President Bush is literally getting away with mass murder. The Commander-in-Chief “decider” is committing the “signature” war crimes of the 21st century. In broad daylight. Before America and the world. Camouflaged in a neatly tailored conservative suit, white shirt, and dark red tie-with an American flag pinned to his lapel. Initiated and justified by blatant and repeated lies about Saddam Hussein’s “mushroom cloud”-threatening weapons of mass destruction and ties to Al Qaeda and the horrific 9/11/2001 attacks against America. War crimes and crimes against humanity, the enormity of which demands redefinition dressed in predictable denial and projection, and laced with palatable patriotic and democratic and religious motives for American public consumption. Monstrous crimes in which many in US politics and mainstream media and religion are complicit. Offenses so hideous and immoral that they require widespread avoidance of the C word.
The obvious criminality is made oblivious. The violation of Iraq’s national sovereignty by the Bush administration’s deliberate falsely-based pre-emptive war and occupation is called “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” The principal American base near Baghdad is named “Camp Victory.” The extensive deaths of Iraqi people and destruction of their life-sustaining infrastructure are paved over with fear-mongering about “protecting Americans from terrorists” and with platitudes about “advancing democracy” and “peace” in the name of “the Author of liberty.” And a recent reversal of reality is the Bush administration calling its present “surge” in Baghdad, to quell the intensifying resistance of Iraqis to its violent illegal invasion and brutal occupation, “Operation Enforcing the Law.” [italics added]
The war crimes committed in Iraq by the Bush administration, in our name, are hidden by catch phrases and platitudes and code words. President Bush would have us believe that his administration’s war of choice against and occupation of non-threatening and sanctions-weakened Iraq are about protecting us from 9/11-like “radicals” and “extremists” and “terrorists,” driven by “blind hatred,” who want to “kill Americans.” (State of the Union Address,” Tape Jan. 23, 2007) Thus the Commander-in-Chief “decider’s” war crimes are made to disappear and recast with catch phrases like “Victory in Iraq is achievable. . . . Retreat would embolden radicals. . . . The American people . . . want to see success. And our objective is to put a plan in place that achieves that success. [italics added] (“Press Conference by the President,” The White House, Dec. 20,2006)
In January, President Bush put his war crimes disappearing act to the members of Congress in a similar way: “America must not fail in Iraq, because you understand that the consequences of failure would be grievous and far reaching. . . . extremists on all sides. . . . Ladies and gentlemen,” he continued, “we went into this largely united in our assumptions and in our convictions. And whatever you voted for, you did not vote for failure.” [italics added] (State of the Union Address, Jan. 23, 2007)
President Bush has repeated “staying the course” and “accomplishing the mission: so often that “staying the course” apparently is “the mission”-and for good reason. Failure in Iraq threatens to expose criminality in Washington! That is believed to be a primary reason why Bush told Republicans at a leadership retreat regarding his planned “surge”: “Failure is not an option” in Iraq. (“Bush: Iraq failure ‘not an option,'” UPI, 26 Jan. 2007)
Thus President Bush is “carrying out a new strategy in Iraq: a plan that . . . gives our forces in Iraq the reinforcements they need to complete their mission.” He then states their mission in such glaring self-contradictory terms: “a democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law, respects the rights of its people, provides them security and is an ally in the war on terror (Ibid) . . . A functioning democracy that . . . answers to its people.” [italics added] (“President’s Address to the Nation,” The White House, Jan. 10, 2007)
“A democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law?” Former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan condemned the Bush administration’s pre-emptive war against Iraq as “illegal,” a violation of international law because it lacked UN Security Council approval. Annan said about President Bush’s “Operation Iraqi Freedom,” “Those who seek to bestow legitimacy must themselves embody it, and those who invoke international law must themselves submit to it.” (The New York Times, Sept. 22, 2004)
President Bush and Vice President Cheney and officials of their administration have committed Crimes against Peace and War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity as defined in Article 6 of the Nuremburg War Crimes Tribunal. (Sheldon Drobny, “Bush War Crimes: The Nuremburg Precedent,” The Huffington Post, Sept. 9, 2006). They have also violated various articles of the Geneva Conventions.
The Bush administration’s Crimes against Peace began in 2000 with its plans to attack non-threatening Iraq when President Bush took office, and the 9/11/2001 attacks against America provided the pretext and fear-mongering lies on which the invasion was based. The war crimes are so obvious: “Operation Iraqi Freedom” with its violent “shock and awe” campaign and occupation, and the reported deaths now of over 650,000 Iraqi men, women and children civilians. (“Study Claims Iraq’s ‘Excess’ Death Toll Has Reached 655,000” by David Brown, The Washington Post, Oct. 22, 2006) The destruction of Iraq’s life-sustaining infrastructure and the devastating affect on the livability and health of the Iraqi people. The war profiteering of carpet-bagging American corporations like Bush administration-connected Halliburton, which have failed greatly in reconstructing what the Bush administration’s “march of democracy” in Iraq has destroyed. The US-led invasion and occupation triggering a deadly massive sectarian civil war. The flight rather than “freedom” of a United Nations-estimated 2 million people from Iraq and another 1.8 million displaced inside their country. (“Bush agrees to help Iraqi refugees: A new opportunity in US for 7,000” [italics added], The Boston Globe, Feb. 15, 2007)
“A democratic Iraq that upholds the rule of law?” The right of due process denied to detainees, held for four years now in the US prison in Guantanamo Bay, pierces the heart of our Constitution’s rule of law. The torture of inmates in Abu Ghraib prison. The secret “extraordinary rendition” program of outsourcing torture to countries for whom torture in “the rule of law.” The US military’s brutal 2004 assault on the citizens of Fallujah. The unconstitutional spying on American citizens.
President Bush says about those Iraqis resisting his administration’s invasion and occupation of Iraq: “These are people that will kill innocent men, women and children to achieve their objective, which is to discourage the Iraqi people, foment sectarian violence and to, frankly, discourage us from helping this government do its job.” (“Press Conference by the President,” The White House, Feb. 14, 2007) Here is classic projection, which more Americans need to join much of the world in seeing through. The “decider” used the barrel of a gun to bring “democracy” to Iraq, killing hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqi men, women and children to achieve his administration’s imperialistic objective: the overthrow of a sovereign government and creation of a “young [puppet] democracy” to carry out America’s political and corporate will, namely
that of feeding the US’s military-industrial complex, controlling Iraq’s vast oil reserves, and using its land for military bases to facilitate the “untamed fire of freedom . . . reach[ing] the darkest corners of our world,” in Bush’s words, i.e., “bringing democracy to the Arab world.” (The New York Times, Jan. 21, 2005; The Boston Globe, Jan. 31, 2005)
Iraq is not about “liberation” but about lies. It is not about “victory” but about victims. Not about “success” but about suffering. Not about “peace” but about war profiteering. It is not about “the ways of Providence,” as President Bush would have us believe, but about the workings of power in the hands of arrogance and entitlement.
Iraq is about the continuing avoidance of the C word by people professing to know “the ways of Providence.” People guided more by profits and power than by prophets speaking truth to power. People who also see “the ways of Providence” as evangelical far more than ethical.
For example, United Methodism’s Southern Methodist University is in the process of selling its soul (and possibly that of United Methodism’s) in its president’s and Board of Regents’ eager negotiations to have the university selected as the site to “enshrine” the presidential papers of United Methodist, and international war criminal, George W. Bush. The negotiations are supported by the South Central Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church, which recently voted 10-4 to approve leasing a site on campus “for George W. Bush’s presidential library, complete with a partisan think tank.” (“Methodist Panel Backs Bush Library,” By Angela K. Brown, washingtonpost.com, Mar. 14, 2007). And the College of Bishops of the South Central Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church adopted a resolution blessing the negotiations. (“Methodist Bishops’ Resolution on the Bush Presidential Library,” (SMUdallas, Feb. 5, 2007). With Bush and Vice President Cheney both members of the United Methodist Church, one might assume that United Methodists especially would be in the forefront of confronting, rather than avoiding the C word. Some are. But many are not. The papers of this most secretive president should be made public for all Americans to see, and not just those papers suitable for students and tourists and scholars and researchers with a particular ideological bent.
The issue of our time is not about “the Battle for Iraq” nor “the Struggle for Iraq” as certain mainstream media bill it, but about the crime against Iraq. Nor is it about “restorative” editorials, such as the following in The New York Times: “It’s bad enough that the soldiers are being asked to risk their lives without President Bush demanding that Iraq’s leaders take any political risks that might give the military mission at least an outside chance of success.” (Feb. 15, 2007). Neither is it about the caption of New York Times columnist Nicholas D. Kristof’s piece, “Let’s Start a War, One We Can Win,” (Feb. 20, 2007) The war Kristof advocates is a virtuous one against blindness-creating diseases in Ethiopia, but the caption’s implication is that war is about winning, and therein the criminal context for the war in Iraq is made to disappear.
Iraq is not about the “mistakes” of a “misguided policy,” morally evasive political leaders tell us, but about the machinations of criminally-guided policy-makers. It is not about a “foreign endeavor,” as Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain has called the war crimes. (The Boston Globe, Feb. 18, 2007) Nor are these crimes of our time found in the words of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney: “We have major problems in Iraq because of the way we’ve mismanaged the war there.” (WBZ AM radio Feb. 18, 2007) Nor is Iraq just about President Bush “misus[ing] the authority we gave him and making “mistakes” and “mislead[ing] this country and this Congress,” as responsibility-avoiding Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton says. (The New York Times, Feb. 18, 2007)
Iraq is about using love of “God and country” as pretexts for sacrificing American lives and wasting national resources to serve corporate profits, domestic political control and world domination. It is about gung-ho “supporting the troops” on the battlefields far more than the wounded veterans at home. It is about glaring “high crimes and misdemeanors” that still wait for Congress to end the war crimes and impeach President Bush and Vice President Cheney, and also bring to justice their criminal co-conspirators. Congress needs to stop Bush and Cheney before their killing spree spreads to Iran. Iraq is about all of us confronting the C word for the sake of America and Iraq. For the sake of our children and grandchildren everywhere.
Rev. WILLIAM E. ALBERTS, Ph.D. is a hospital chaplain, and a diplomate in the College of Pastoral Supervision and Psychotherapy. Both a Unitarian Universalist and a United Methodist minister, he has written research reports, essays and articles on racism, war, politics and religion. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.