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Better to strike back than strike first

There are plenty of madmen in the world wanting and willing to strike at the soft underbelly of the United States. Saddam Hussein is one of many. He poses no bigger threat than he did 10 years ago.

It is no mystery why George W. Bush and Richard Cheney want to start a war now against Iraq. Our economy is sinking and a war will divert our attention away from unemployment and collapsing retirement accounts. The corporate friends of Bush and Cheney are being exposed and indicted. Iraq has the second-largest oil reserves in the world. Bush and Cheney’s oil buddies want it to feed the American thirst for petroleum. A new war will make us forget that Bush has failed to kill or capture Osama bin Laden and Bush has failed to solve the anthrax crimes.

Bush is using the attack of 9/11 to justify a pre-emptive strike against Iraq. He claims simplistically that 9/11 happened because terrorists hate freedom and terrorists are evil; if we remove Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein, the world will miraculously be safe from mass destruction. It is always difficult to reflect inward to understand one’s own contribution to a conflict. People hate us not because we love freedom but because we consume 70 percent of the world’s resources. People hate us because our corporations use sweat labor so we can go to Wal-Mart and buy cheap consumer goods. People hate us because U.S. troops are stationed in Saudi Arabia, the location of the hliest Islamic sites, to protect American corporate oil interests. People hate us because our government condemns Palestinian suicide bombings while remaining silent about atrocities committed by Israel and funded by the United States. And people hate us because in the name of counterterrorism, the United States has engaged in wholesale terror ism of its own.



The United States sponsored a coup against democracy in Guatemala in 1954, resulting in the deaths of over 120,000 peasants. The United States overthrew the government of the Dominican Republic in 1965 and helped murder 3,000 people. In 1973, the United States sponsored a coup in Chile against the democratic government of Salvador Allende and helped to murder another 30,000 people. In 1965, the United States sponsored a coup in Indonesia, resulting in the deaths of 800,000 people, and again in 1975 in East Timor with 250,000 deaths. In 1984, the World Court declared the U.S. government a war criminal for its terrorist contra war against Nicaragua which resulted in the deaths of over 30,000 innocent people, people who the U.S. government referred to as “soft targets.” The list go on and on to include El Salvador, Angola, Panama, Iran, Vietnam, Libya, Grenada, Somalia, Haiti, Afghanistan, Sudan, Brazil, Argentina, and Yugoslavia.

And let us not forget the single-most horrific act of terror against innocent people in the history of the world. The United States dropped an atom bomb on the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing tens of thousands of non-combatants. I have no doubt that if the proposed war against Iraq goes badly for the United States, Bush will authorize the use of tactical nuclear weapons and justify the use as necessary to save American lives and to secure an everlasting peace.



Bush is telling us that to have peace we must wipe Saddam Hussein off the face of the earth. To get one man we must murder many. To secure peace we must have war. And we are the ones who need to start that war. Nietzche said, “Whoever fights monsters should see to it that in the process they do not become monsters themselves. If you stare long enough into the abyss, the abyss will stare back into you.”

We live in a complex world of grinding poverty for millions, of nations loaded with nuclear armament, of religious and ethnic clashes and of corporate globalization. There is no quick fix answer to preventing another terrorist attack. We, as citizens not just of the United States but also of the world, can start by reducing our consumption of oil and by ceasing terrorist activity in the name of counterterrorism.

Peace activists are labeled as appeasers. Some politicians, including Scott McInnis, argue that we appeased Hitler. The rest of the world, however, is protesting that their governments are appeasing the United States if they support a war against Iraq. To much of the rest of the world, the United States is the aggressor. When I was in college in the late 1960s, the United States often talked about and was paranoid about the Yellow Peril, referring to Communist China and the threat of hordes of Chinese expanding beyond their historical borders. The professor in my International Relations class pointed out that if you were Chinese you would look at the history of the United States and worry about American Manifest Destiny.

The English landed on Plymouth Rock and proceeded to colonize 13 states. From there, we expanded through various wars and purchases to colonize Texas, Alaska, California, and Hawaii. After World War II, if you lived in China you would look around and see an American presence in South Korea, Japan and Vietnam – a semicircle of United States’ military surrounding your country. So, argued the professor, who had a right to be more paranoid about expanding beyond their borders?

Is the world appeasing Saddam Hussein or is the world appeasing George W. Bush and corporate America? There is no difference between a lot of people being killed by weapons of mass destruction and a lot of people being killed by the most sophisticated and technologically advanced weapons proposed to be unleashed by the United States.

George W. Bush, Richard Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld do not speak for me when they rant about protecting the homeland through expanding the war on terrorism. There is no way to predict whether Saddam Hussein or anyone else will attack us in the future. For me, it does not matter. I will take that risk. I would rather strike back than strike first. All the collateral damage and soft targets killed by American soldiers are creating the children and grandchildren of the dead who will hate us so much that they will become the next generation of terrorists.

Numerous organizations are planning a protest on Oct. 26 in Washington D. C. and San Francisco. The Roaring Fork Peace Coalition will be in front of Scott McInnis’ office in Glenwood Springs on Oct. 26 with signatures on petitions urging that the United States not start a war. I hope all those who share my abhorrence for a pre-emptive strike will attend one of these protests.

Calvin Lee is a local attorney and member of the Roaring Fork Peace Coalition.


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