Atelier N°11, article 17
James A. Stevenson
On Violence I
In this essay and a companion essay (On Violence
II), I want to challenge what seems to be a widely held belief that the
use of massive violence is an effective means of either solving deep-seated
socio-economic and political problems or of gaining some substantial material
advantage which benefits all of the "victorious" people equally.
While the first essay will mostly concentrate on the issue of the long-term
efficacy of violence in our contemporary period, the second essay will
tackle the related issue of the winners, losers and costs of the preeminent
acts of violence in the 20th century — World War I and II. After
all, if we consider the objectives sought, the people served, the victories
achieved, and the cost paid in those two most violent events of the 20th
century, we might be led to question the long-range efficacy of today's
violence much more skeptically. Besides, since those two wars were
the most costly in human history, and, especially, because the second of
the two is considered by many people to be the "good war," I want to advance
the hypothesis that the "victories" gained by such violence as was unleashed
in each of them were not worth the human cost or were, at least, highly
problematical. In fact, as it turns out, the violence of World War
II may well not only have produced a Pyrrhic victory for the Soviet Union
but, despite appearances, for the U.S. as well. Yet, before I argue
the controversial proposition, in my second essay, that the violence unleashed
in World War II was avoidable, I want to examine where the contemporary
use of violence has taken us.
According to ABC News on July 31, 2002, there have been
"at least 1,471 Palestinians and 573 Israelis" killed since the second
intifada of the Palestinians began in September 2000. Even
with Palestinians being killed at the current rate and ratio of 2.57 (rounded)
to every Israeli, it is extremely unlikely that the Palestinian population
will not reach the projected figure of 12 million people living in the
West Bank and Gaza by the year 2050. At that time, the Israeli population
will be an estimated 10 million strong. So, it is unlikely
that, unless the policy makers within the Israeli state either undertake
to dramatically escalate the pace and numbers of Palestinians that are
being killed and/or to deport millions of them from Israel and the occupied
territories in such a gigantic program of ethnic cleansing that some people
would certainly compared it to the deportations of subjugated peoples carried
out in Nazi-occupied Europe, there is no way that the on-going violence
will resolve the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Indeed, it is the recognition
of these demographic and strategic facts that may have led Amram Mitzna
(former Israeli general and current Haifa mayor) to recently announce his
bid for the leadership of Israel’s Labor Party with the promise to take
"Labor out of Sharon’s government immediately" because the "'government
led by Sharon is leading us nowhere'"
And, yet, despite this political dead-end identified
by people like Mitzna, the purveyors of violence seem virtually mesmerized
by it. For them, violence seems almost a fetish, and they apparently
cannot disenthrall themselves from it. In their view, it is the only
possible means of solving the problems that not only seem intractable,
but it may serve their personalities and interests. So, given the
recent history, institutional interests, and many of the personalities
of those in state and economic power in Israel, the Palestinian territories,
the Middle Eastern countries, the U.S., and, well, just about everywhere
on earth, it is highly unlikely that peace is about to break out anytime
soon. In fact, I would wager on the continuing success of that group
of so-called U.S. "chickenhawks" and their hard-right allies in ultra-conservative
think tanks, television studios, and publishing firms who have been extraordinarily
busy creating the justifications or pretexts for a U.S. war on Iraq while
they have been simultaneously "engineering" U.S. public consent for their
policies. This latter action, of course, seems to be rather easy
to do when the messages of "evil," fear, war, and uncritical patriotism
are all conveyed by a largely uncritical, nationalistic, and increasingly
oligopolistic mass media.
After all, as of January 7, 2002, just ten multinational
corporate conglomerates — AOL, Time Warner, Disney, General Electric, News
Corporation, Viacom, Vivendi, Sony, Bertelsmann, AT&T, and Liberty
Media — were co-directing virtually all the U.S. nation’s media.
Considering only the major T.V. news outlets, CBS is owned by Viacom, NBC
by General Electric, ABC by Walt Disney, CNN by AOL/Time Warner, and Fox
News Channel is owned by Rupert Murdock’s News Corporation.
Meanwhile, the elite and upper class bias of ABC World News Tonight, CBS
Evening News, and NBC Nightly News (not to mention Fox News) in favor of
"the most powerful political and economic actors, while giving limited
access to those voices . . . most likely to challenge them" was clearly
revealed by a recent year-long study by the German-based, non-partisan
media analysts from Media Tenor Ltd. In the time period between January
1- December 31, 2001, the Media Tenor researchers coded the news "topic,
time period, location, protagonists and detailed source information (including
partisan affiliation, gender, and race or nationality, when determinable)."
The data included 14,632 sources in 18,765 individual reports, and it proved
that in 2001, "the voices of Washington’s elite politicians [75 percent
Republican sources, 24 percent Democrat sources, and only 1 percent third-party
sources] were the dominant sources of opinion on the network evening news
[making up 25% of all sources]." It also proved that "source selection
favored the elite interests that the corporate owners of these [news] shows
depend on for advertising revenue, regulatory support, and access to information."
It summarized the findings by noting that "[b]ased on the criterion of
who got to speak, the broadcast networks functioned much more as venues
for the claims and opinions of the powerful than as democratic forums for
public discussion or education." Thus, corporate representatives
made up 7% of all sources while academics and economists ("generally" coming
"from major investment banks such as Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley"
or "conservative think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation or . . . elite
business schools such as those at Princeton and Stanford") made up another
7%. On the other hand, organized labor representatives made up less
than "0.2 percent" of the "sources on the evening news." Still, in
order to off-set this apparently inordinate influence of labor's view on
the public mind, company representatives [were] 35 times more likely to
Directly dealing with what this U.S. media concentration
and bias mean for the U.S. public's perception of the world since the tragedy
of 9/11, Canadian journalist Linda McQuaig argues that the major mainstream
media attention that was given to the anniversary of 9/11 helped the Bush
Administration war hawks switch the U.S. public focus from tracking down
the elusive Osama bin Laden to a "regime change" in Iraq. And this
"turn in plot," she claims, was done "without a question" being raised
about "Saddam's use of chemical weapons against his own Kurdish population
. . . when Saddam was still a [de facto] U.S. ally." More importantly,
she adds, "the [mainstream] U.S. media have filtered out anything that
could lead viewers to question why so many people around the world feel
such bitterness toward Washington." So, she explains, "even
after a full year of media 'analysis' of 9/11, Americans still have little
knowledge of brutal U.S. foreign interventions . . . or the enormous power
and wealth imbalances in the world. Instead, the media pretty much
accepted Bush's explanation that those who hate the U.S. are simply jealous
of its freedoms. [And the] media, following the White House script,
consistently presents U.S. actions abroad as well-meaning . . . rather
than [as many may see it] aggressive attempts to advance U.S. economic
and political power." So, she continues, "as far as the public
knows, everything started with 9/11. Out of the blue, people came
to hate the U.S. for its freedoms," and the mainstream U.S. media
does little to disabuse people of that notion. "Crimes, of course,"
McQuaig concludes, "should be punished, no matter what their causes; the
perpetrators of 9/11 must be hunted down and brought to justice.
But if we really want to understand why things happen — and how to protect
ourselves in the future — it [is] counterproductive to block out all the
information that might be helpful."
So, given the filters provided by the U.S. media conglomerates,
elite-serving propagandists, and, indeed, the whole pro-business U.S. market
culture, is it any wonder that Americans are urged to look for Churchillian
heroes among their leadership? At any rate, it is taken as a sign
of praiseworthy machismo rather than the mark of bad acting when U.S. Secretary
of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld, strides about the press corps and lets it
be known that he admires Theodore Roosevelt or is heard to favorably
quote the words of that other great American, Al Capone: "'You’ll
get more with a kind word and a gun than a kind word alone.'"
Now, as one who may imagine himself to be as tough as "Scarface" Al Capone,
I doubt that Rumsfeld would ever want to visualize himself as killing —
albeit indirectly — more innocent people than Capone. So, could Rumsfeld,
like myself, when I once quoted those same words in the childish days of
my youth, be simply a wiseacrer? Still, wouldn’t it be interesting
if such a tough leader as Rumsfeld would undertake such a sacrifice for
the public good that he would challenge a real crazy-tough, psychopath
such as Saddam Hussein to a bare-knuckle brawl to the death? That
alternative to the usual decision makers' practice of sending others off
to kill and die would probably save thousand of innocent people who otherwise
may be sacrificed by some Machiavellian policy makers on the altar of hubris,
stupidity, power, and greed. And is it possible, if that contest
turns out to be a money-maker, that we could hire a sharp Las Vegas promoter
to locate Osama bin Laden and arrange for another gladiatorial bout between
bin Laden and another of our most powerful White House policy makers?
Then, is it possible that we could have another exciting slugfest between
someone like a U.S. vice president and Yasser Arafat or Ariel Sharon and
But, as it stands now, we can probably expect more self-aggrandizement
than self-sacrifice from our neoconservative policy makers and war-urging
pundits. Meanwhile, the Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed is resuming
after a momentary lull. And I am more and more questioning
the value of using violence to settle disputes or to solve problems.
In fact, I wonder if social analyst Noam Chomsky’s observation that "violence
usually works" is exactly accurate in the long run. I know
for certain that, since he has fought against violence his whole life,
he probably would agree with me about its doubtful "long-run" efficacy.
At any rate, when we consider those who do not question either its use
or its efficacy, we need to think very deeply about their contentions.
For example, many in the Bush II Administration and the
mainstream U.S. media have been exalting about the tremendous victory that
the U.S. military juggernaut has achieved over the Taliban’s mighty force
of around 16 broken down aircraft and their last-of-the-art artillery/armor
weaponry. Yet, despite this unsurprising triumph of U.S. arms, it
is startling to discover that "by mid-December  1,000 or more [Al]
Qaeda operatives, including most of the chief planners and almost certainly
Osama bin Laden himself, had managed to escape" under the "indispensable"
superpower’s relentless air bombardment. Given the choice of two
trails, the U.S. military command apparently ordered the bombing of the
wrong trail when they were attempting to prevent the retreating Taliban
and Al Qaeda fighters from escaping. In fact, it not only appears
that those men "slipped away" from U.S. dumb and smart bombs, but so did
Taliban leader Mullah Omar and "several senior Taliban officials, including
Mulvi Abdul Qabir, Mullah Omar’s deputy; Mulvi Sadar Azam, the governor
of Nangahar province, and Mulvi Taj Mir, Nangahar’s intelligence director."
And, now, it seems both pro-Taliban and Al Qaeda forces are infiltrating
back into Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, inside the country, reports Newsweek, "they
still plot and sometimes mount hit-and-run raids against U.S. and allied
Afghan forces." In fact, there have already been two attempted
assassinations of the U.S. installed, Afghan head of state Hamid Karzai.
And he — an apparently brave man — is now protected by U.S. Special Forces
as if to acknowledge that his own countrymen cannot be trusted to guard
his life. As one apparently disgusted Afghan commando asked:
"'Whose president will he be if he is not guarded by Afghan soldiers?'"
In fact, even with American backing, Karzai appears to have very little
authority in much of Afghanistan outside of the capital. But, as
non-promising as is that situation, even worse is the fact that "[some]
European and Arab intelligence experts now believe, in fact, that Al Qaeda
has mutated into a form that is no less deadly and even more difficult
to combat." As one "top European counterterrorist investigator"
told Newsweek, "'We are confronted with cells that are all over the place
. . . [so that] the threat is a lot greater than it was in December.
This is to say, the worst is ahead of us, not behind us.'"
We must hope that he is wrong.
Wishful thinking, however, does not often change reality.
And, now, still from Newsweek, we learn that memorials and markers to Al
Qaeda and Taliban "martyrs" in the fight with Americans are popping up
in various places in Afghanistan. In fact, legends are starting to
be created about the defenders of Tora Bora and Afghanistan. In short,
it is beginning to look as though official U.S. pronouncements about
any lasting victory in Afghanistan may be quite premature. After
all, at the deepest level, the Taliban, Al Qaeda, and many other Middle
Eastern political/religious groups represent broader social forces and
movements. Those movements and the religious and political ideologies
that are spawned by people serving such causes can never be killed with
bombs. Indeed, under bombing and repression, such ideas and movements
sometimes flourish. They often feed off of the abuse and oppression
which they endure and may gradually, surreptitiously, grow stronger.
For those possessing the mental power to extrapolate
from the main message of the largely ridiculous but once popular U.S. film/video
"Red Dawn," it is clear that the longer and larger a U.S. military presence
remains in Afghanistan (or Iraq or any place of uncertain welcome) the
more that presence will appear to some Afghans as an unwanted foreign occupation.
Historian Thomas J. McCormick made precisely that point when he warned
that Western imperialists in pre-1949 China had woefully "ignored one of
history’s few absolutes: the extension of power (however informal)
of stronger nations over weaker ones inevitably effects changes in the
weaker societies — in cultural attitudes . . . in class and social structure,
in political institutions and behavior, in technology and economics, in
education and the like. Moreover, such changes . . . can and often
do cause violent reaction against the intruding, alien powers."
So, now, as a few U.S. neoconservative warhawks drive
us to attack the long-suffering Iraqi people, we should heed the words
of Indian writer and activist, Arundhati Roy: "For every ‘terrorist’
or his ‘supporter’ that is killed, hundreds of innocent people are . .
. killed too. And for every hundred innocent people killed, there
is a good chance that several future terrorists will be created."
Yet, as the Independent journalist Robert Fisk points out, "Mr. Bush goes
on to do exactly what his enemies want; to provoke Muslims and Arabs, to
praise their enemies and demonize their countries, to bomb and starve Iraq
and give uncritical support to Israel and maintain his support for the
dictators of the Middle East. . . . There is a firestorm coming.
And . . . we are provoking it." And, from the other end of
the political spectrum than Roy and Fish occupy, Patrick J. Buchanan seems
to have put the historical situation in a nutshell when he predicted the
future and condemned U.S. imperial interventionism: "And, to be candid,
if suicide warriors of Islam are willing to die in great numbers
to drive us out of the Islamic world, we are one day going to be driven
out, as the British and French were. . . . And the sooner all imperial
powers go home — including Americans — the sooner the anti-colonial wars,
and the terror that goes with them, comes to an end."
In short, exactly what part of the U.S. military victory
in Afghanistan or its impending attack on Iraq should we cheer about?
Is it the fact that Al Qaeda has morphed and spread into a harder-to-detect
form? Or is it the fact that the U.S. victory in Afghanistan is a
likely chimera? Or is it that U.S. policy maker frustration at their
failure to accomplish the original mission in Afghanistan now may be obliging
them to send troops marching into Baghdad and, so, may result in a doomed
Saddam Hussein "flushing" his suspected biological and chemical weapons
of mass destruction (WMDs) into the hands of fanatical terrorists?
Or is it the fact that U.S. citizens may find huge amounts of their resources
and taxes drained to pay for a presence of U.S. forces in parts of the
Middle East for many years to come?
So "War," as the old rock lyrics go, "what is it good
for?" Well, really, "Absolutely nothing" if you are below the status
of the elite in the military-industrial complex or their compatriots in
the upper most reaches of what could be termed the global corpocracy.
Stating it forcefully in the words for which he was sentenced to ten years
imprisonment for violation of the 1917, U.S.A. Espionage Act, Eugene Debs
once said, "The master class has always declared the wars, the subject
class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all
to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to
gain and all to lose — especially their lives." In words as
relevant now as they were in 1918, Debs described the "masters" as "the
gentry who are today wrapped up in the American flag, who shout their claim
from the housetops that they are the only patriots." "No wonder,"
he scornfully continues, "Sam Johnson declared that ‘patriotism is the
last refuge of the scoundrel,’ [for] in every age it has been the tyrant,
the oppressor and exploiter who has wrapped himself in the cloak of patriotism,
or religion, or both to deceive and overawe the people." But, he
added, "You [workers] need…to know that you are fit for something better
than slavery and cannon fodder. You need to know that you were not
created to work and produce and impoverish yourself to enrich an idle exploiter.
You need to know that you have a mind to improve, a soul to develop, and
a manhood to sustain. . . . You need to know that you belong to the
great majority of mankind. You need to know that as long as you are
ignorant, as long as you are indifferent, as long as you are apathetic,
unorganized and content, you will remain exactly where you are. You
will be exploited; you will be degraded, and you will . . . be looked down
upon with scorn and contempt by the very parasites that live and luxuriate
out of your sweat and unpaid labor."
From that class perspective, it is easy to understand
why the ones who suffer the most in most wars are lower class people and
not the elites. After all, while the nobility of the Middle Ages
were being ransomed and returned to their estates, the serfs in their defeated
armies were being hacked to pieces. More recently, the vast majority
of those killed by 20th century wars were civilians — 66% in the Second
World War and "80% to 90% of those affected by war today are civilians."
Indeed, virtually all of the 3,056 people killed in the U.S. on 9/11 were
innocent civilians, and, at the most conservative estimate, around 3,125
innocent Afghan civilians have been killed by the military retaliation
launched by U.S. policy makers. Those are the innocent people
— on both sides — who are the victims of the violence spawned by policy
makers. And it is on those innocent victims — past and future — that
we must keep the focus if we are ever going to prevent non-state and state
violence from killing, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of more people.
Yet, in the real world, can anyone but a saint actually
believe that state violence can or should be eliminated? Besides,
isn’t violence as an act of self-defense justifiable? After all,
at some point both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King acknowledged the
moral right to use violence in self-defense. Indeed, Jesus Christ
— more revered than followed — is practically the only one who absolutely
rejected the use of violence, even in self-defense. According to
Matthew 5:39, he admonishes those who would follow his path: "But
I say unto you. That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite
thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also." But, apparently,
abiding by Christ’s related teaching in Matthew 5:44 is even more difficult
for most of those who have the gall to call themselves Christians.
As Jesus commands: "But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless
them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which
despitefully use you, and persecute you;" More to the point
for those concerned with avoiding religious hypocrisy, Jesus demonstrated
that he practiced what he preached. When the soldiers came to arrest
him and one of his defenders sliced off the ear of one of the soldiers,
Jesus said, "unto him, put up again thy sword . . . for all they that take
the sword shall perish with the sword." Pretty strong stuff!
However, it seems that particular moral outlook and practice
is beyond the ken of the vast majority of Christians as well as non-Christians.
And, in the case of the former, their shortcoming is outrageously hypocritical.
Others may well be hypocrites but not on that score. So, for those
who are neither policy makers nor pure pacifists, the use of organized
violence can be evaluated and opposed on the grounds of who is most frequently
and numerically hurt. It also can be evaluated and opposed on the
base of its long-range or historical efficacy. And on those bases
— some of which I have already explored — I find, with one important caveat,
less and less justification for being anything but a pacifist with every
passing year. Yet, we should be mindful of the point made by European
Union parliamentarian Luisa Morgantini who points out, for example, that
asking the oppressed Palestinians to be perfectly non-violent is mindlessly
arrogant when nothing of the sort is being asked of the oppressor.
Thus, "Morgantini observes that while "outside activists may prefer nonviolent
methods," a certain "humility in activism is important." As
she puts it: "'Everyone in the world asks of the Palestinians who
are the most oppressed to be perfect. I don't ask that.'"
Still, because of the huge numbers of helpless and totally innocent people
who get killed and injured once only a few war-urging policy makers decide
that their own particular interests dictate that there should be war, I
strongly tilt toward denouncing the use of virtually all state and non-state
At this time, it is still possible to see a need and
a right for people to use violence as an act of personal self-defense,
but since even that right can by construed as fairly elastic by some, we
need to be cautious about asserting it. For example, as the neoconservatives
in Washington begin to accelerate their demonization of Saddam Hussein,
they are contending that they have the right to undertake preemptive warfare
against any state or non-state group that they — and they alone — declare
is a threat. In the imperious phraseology of the official 2002
National Security Strategy of the United States: "We will disrupt
and destroy . . . any terrorist or state sponsor of terrorism . . . by
identifying and destroying the threat before it reaches our borders . .
. [and] we will not hesitate to act alone . . . by acting preemptively
against such terrorists . . . and compelling states to accept their sovereign
responsibilities." As for the immediate case of Saddam Hussein,
it is incredibly easy to stipulate that Hussein is still the same murderous
despot that he was when U.S. policy makers in the Ronald Reagan and George
Bush I Administrations backed him "with military intelligence, economic
aid, and covert supplies of munitions." And the fact that the
doctrine of preemptive war is currently being aimed at Hussein raises
the question that, if he were not reckless enough to employ his biological
and chemical WMDs against the U.S. in the 1991 Gulf War, why would he do
so after Iraq's military strength has been reduced by a third or more?
Moreover, to accept the idea that the doctrine of preemptive attack is
justified merely because certain U.S. policy makers say that Hussein, or
someone else, is a menace to our personal safety is to naively ignore the
entire world’s history of self-serving policy makers.
Now, of course, since our neoconservative policy makers
are always thinking only of our general welfare and never pay any heed
to oil/energy companies profits or to profits for U.S. arms merchants,
the claim to the right of self-defense through preemptive war will probably
fly well with Congress and U.S. population. On the other hand, John
F. Kennedy advisor and renowned U.S. historian Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.
has demonstrated that neither the doctrine of preemptive attack nor those
who advocate it should be taken at face value. As Schlesinger points
out, "the advocates of preventive war were dismissed as a crowd of loonies"
when they first emerged during the Cold War and called for striking at
the Soviet Union or its allies rather than pursuing the ultimately successful
strategy of "containment plus deterrence." "Today, alas," he
goes on, "they [i.e., the "loonies"] appear to be in power in the United
States." And, although they have "rebaptized preventive was as preemptive
war," it "doesn’t change its character." Then, hitting especially
hard where it counts the most, Schlesinger flatly declares: "Unilateral
preventive war [by any means] is neither legitimate nor moral. It
is illegitimate and immoral" And, he adds, in considerably
more passion than accuracy, "For more than 200 years we have not been that
kind of country."
Based on that critical understanding of the meaning of
preemptive warfare, Schlesinger sarcastically observes that the "Bush Administration
hawks [such as] Vice President Dick Cheney and Secretary of Defense Donald
Rumsfeld evidently see themselves as Steven Spielberg’s ‘precogs’ in [the
film] ‘Minority Report’ who are psychically equipped to avert crimes that
are about to be committed." Yet, we may ask, how is it that,
given this amazing gift of clairvoyance, the "loonies/precogs" — formally
called soothsayers — never predicted the catastrophe of 9/11? And
despite, as Schlesinger says, the evidence that a strategy of containment
plus deterrence "has kept Saddam Hussein behind his own frontiers [militarily
impotent, away from supporting Al Qaeda terrorists, and hypothetically
off-balance with air strikes] for the last decade," the administration
"precogs" are demanding a violent march on Baghdad and a "regime change"
in Iraq. Perhaps, given their power to divine future intentions,
in a way that surpasses the skeptics in U.S. intelligence agencies like
the CIA, the precogs/soothsayers know something that they are not sharing
with the rest of us. But, points out a doubting Schlesinger, Hussein
"is mortal" and "is sure to be gone one of these days." So,
he asks, where is the "direct and immediate threat" that justifies
igniting a potential huge loss of life to remove him? Do the clairvoyant
Bush II Administration policy makers have proof that this man who is said
to sleep in a different place every night for fear of being killed, has
become suddenly suicidal or that he is preparing to use his alleged WMD
against Israel, or the U.S., or some other country? And would this
man, who has shown absolutely no suicidal tendencies to date, dare to provoke
the current U.S. policy makers into pulverizing him and his country by
aggressing against his neighbors? So, Schlesinger asks, "What is
so vital about getting rid of him next week or next month?"
Indeed, the very act of a U.S. preemptive strike for Hussein’s removal
and death, could well lead him to use whatever "ghastly weapons"
that he may have in his final deadly spasm for revenge.
Obviously, this U.S. doctrine of unilateral preemptive
attack means that if U.S. policy makers can claim precog/soothsaying powers
to launch it, so can the policy makers of other states and groups, including
terrorist organizations. And when that happens, it means that the
principle of clairvoyance-leading-to-preemptive-attack has replaced the
principles of international law that have been painstakingly developed
and established in the U.N. Charter, U.N. resolutions, and decisions rendered
by the World Court. So, after that stage is reached, only the law
of the jungle and naked force will rule in international law. Astutely
summarizing the meaning of this "Bush Doctrine" of preemption — now fully
incorporated in the 2002 national security strategy of the U.S. — scholar
Richard Falk writes that the "Bush Doctrine" of "pre-emption . . . validates
striking first . . . on the basis of a shadowy intentions, alleged potential
links to terrorist groups, supposed plans and projects to acquire weapons
of mass destruction, and anticipations of possible future dangers.
It is a doctrine without limits, without accountability to the U.N. or
international law, without any dependence on a collective judgment of responsible
governments and, what it worse, without any convincing demonstration of
practical necessity." And, so we find that U.S. Secretary of
Defense Rumsfeld can declare that the U.S. may go to war with Iraq because
the "'absence of evidence' of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq should
not be considered 'evidence of absence.'" In the words of investigative
journalist Robert Scheer, this is "the guilty-no-matter-what doctrine."
But for those of us who identify the causes of the 9/11
attacks on the U.S. as something more substantial than they "they don’t
like our freedoms" or "they hate our way of life," the application of the
doctrine of preemption and the guilty-no-matter-what assertion is highly
likely to produce only much more unnecessary "blowback" and risks/disasters
for the U.S. people. After all, according to the U.S. Defense Department's
own official finding in "The Defense Science Board 1997 Summer Study Task
Force on DoD Responses to Transnational Threats, "Historical data show
a strong correlation between US involvement in international situations
and an increase in terrorist attacks against the United States."
At any rate, no one doubts that the U.S. military can
wipe out the totally outgunned Iraqi conscript army and the much overrated
Republican Guards. But killing those people and possibly thousands
of civilians is simply unnecessary and immoral. After all, according
to many knowledgeable observers, the vast majority of people in Iraq would
like to see Hussein gone. Indeed, if U.S. policy makers were to offer
a reward for Hussein's removal of about half of the annual cost of the
U.S. Defense budget (roughly $250 billion), someone would probably remove
him in a matter of weeks or months. Or, alternatively, what would
happen if the same amount of money and a safe haven in the Bahamas or Switzerland
were to be offered to Hussein himself? Is it at all conceivable that
he and similar personality types among any of the world’s elite governing
circles would choose to die rather than to escape into a domain of self-preservation
and self-enrichment? In other words, rather than invoking the holocaust
of war, a bit of old-fashioned bribery might save the lives of thousands
of innocent men, women and children. The moral choice in such circumstances
is clear to all but those with the most twisted and convoluted reasoning.
Yet, despite the fact that previous U.S. policy makers have condoned or
provided safe-havens and luxurious exile locations for the corrupt or despotic
leaders of foreign regimes, such a solution is probably out of the question
for Hussein. After all, current U.S. policy makers have demonized
him too much to retreat to such a payoff. Besides, the likelihood
is that U.S. policy makers are not so much interested in simply ousting
Hussein as in gaining more influence over Iraq and the Middle East as a
whole. And, sadly, for those hapless thousands who are likely to
be injured or killed, that objective is obtained through war and conquest,
not bribery. So, once again, it appears that the masters of war are
mobilized as usual. It's up to the rest of us to try to create peace.
Notes to On Violence I
Dan Williams, "Bombing at Israeli University,
at Least Seven Dead," ABCNews.com, 31 July 2002, 2, wysiwyg://36/http://printerfriendly.abcn…etchFromGLUESService=
"One History, Two Views," Newsweek, 1 April, 2002,
Dan Ephron and Joshua Hammer, "'Sharon’s Government
is Leading Us Nowhere': Amram Mitzna has his sights on a former nemesis,"
Newsweek, 2 September, 2002, 38.
Michael Hersh, "Hawks, Doves And Dubya," Newsweek,
2 September 2002, 27.
Mark Crispen Miller, "What’s Wrong With This Picture,"
The Nation 7, January 2002, 1-2, HYPERLINK "http://www.thenation.com/docPrint.mhtml?i=20020107+s=miller"
www.thenation.com/docPrint.mhtml?i=20020107&s=miller ; see also the
associated graphic figures on this topic entitled, "The Big Ten."
Ina Howard, "Power Sources," Extra, May/June 2002,
1-2, 5-6; email forward. Ina Howard is U.S. Research Director of
Media Tenor International, email at HYPERLINK "mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org"
email@example.com . This citation covers all the data and quoted
information since the previous citation.
Linda McQuaig, "Media frenzy feeds U.S. delusions
over attack," Toronto Star, thestar.com, 15 September 2002, 1-2,
It is revealing that Rumsfeld’s is described as
greatly admiring Theodore Roosevelt. According to one of Roosevelt’s
finest biographers, Henry Pringle, Roosevelt was so perpetually adolescent
that one of his closest confidants and advisors, Cecil Spring Rice, once
explained that Roosevelt "was the most adolescent of men" with these words,
"'You must always remember that the President is about six [years old].'"
See Henry Pringle, Theodore Roosevelt: A Biography, New York: Harvest Books,
Evan Thomas, "Rumsfeld’s War," Newsweek,
16 September 2002, 22.
I must confess that years ago — when I was in
my teenage years — I was as fascistic minded, militaristic, and hawkish
as any of the current so-called "chickenhawks" in the top echelon of the
George W. Bush Administration. And, certainly, at the time when I
joined the U.S. Marine Corps for a four year hitch at the age of 17 and
until the age of 22, no one could accuse me of favoring non-violence.
Anyway, before I began to study events, people and institutions skeptically
and critically, I was as warlike as the most hard right neoconservatives
who surround and support the Bush II Administration. In fact, I suspect
that people like Richard Cheney, Richard Pearl, Elliot Abrams, Paul Wolfowitz,
John Ashcroft, Tom DeLay, Trent Lott, William Kristol, Charles Kauthammer,
and numbers of others are going to have to put forth a bit more effort
to match my youthful dedication to war-loving stupidity. Like me
in my youth, these guys (along with Ann Coulter apparently) may have watched
too many John Wayne movies.
As of this date, following six weeks of relative
calm, and in the aftermath of two Palestinian suicide bombings (September
18 and 19, 2001) that have killed up to six Israelis, the Israeli government
of Ariel Sharon has launched military operations that have killed at least
five Palestinian civilians, and Sharon’s government has begun a military
bombardment and siege of Yasser Arafat and his aides in their headquarters
in Ramalla. The Israelis are demanding that Arafat turn over to them
some 20 to 50 people whom the Israelis claim are either responsible for
the two suicide bombings or did not act to stop them. Arafat and
the Palestinian Authority, meanwhile, have issued a statement that calls
for an end to the killing of civilians on either side and pleas for an
end to suicide bombings of civilians as counter productive. According
to BBC World News on September 18, 2002, the Hamas and Hizbullah organizations
rejected Arafat’s earlier call for an end to suicide bombings inside Israel.
Meanwhile, Israeli settlers and troops still occupy Palestinian territories
as if such an occupation and colonization is the solution rather than the
problem. See BBC World News, 6:00 pm, EST, September 18 and 20, 2002;
ABC News report at 11:00 pm, EST September 20, 2002.
Noam Chomsky, "The New War Against Terror," 18
October 2001, Znet, 6, HYPERLINK "http://www.Ibbs.org/GlobalWatch/chomskymit.htm"
www.1bbs.org/GlobalWatch/ chomskymit.htm .
Rod Nordland, Sami Yousafzai, and Babak Dehghanpisheh,
"How Al Qaeda Slipped Away," Newsweek, 19 August 2002, 35, 37.
"Perspectives," Newsweek, 5 August 2002, 17.
Rod Nordland, Sami Yousafzai, and Babak Dehghanpisheh,
"How Al Qaeda Slipped Away," Newsweek, 19 August 2002, 36.
Thomas McCormick, The China Market: America's
Quest for Informal Empire, 1893-1901, Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1990,
155. My Emphasis.
Arundhati Roy, "Brutality smeared in peanut butter:
Why Americans must stop the war now," Guardian Unlimited, 22 October 2002,
HYPERLINK "http://www.guardian.co.uk" www.guardian.co.uk .
Robert Fisk, "There is a firestorm coming, and
it is being provoked by Mr. Bush," The Independent, Independent.co.uk,
22 May 2002, HYPERLINK http://argument.independent.co.uk/commentators/story.jsp?story=298681
Patrick J. Buchanan, "Losing the home front,"
WorldNetDaily, 31 July, 2002, 3, HYPERLINK http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=28462
www.wnd.com/news/article.asp? ARTICLE_ID=28462 .
Newsweek reports that intelligence experts "have
warned" that "Saddam may be 'flushing' his small, easy-to-conceal biological
agents, trying to get them out of the country" and he could, "like a cornered
dog," lash out by "handing out his bioweapons to terrorists." See
Christopher Dickey and Evan Thomas, "How Saddam Happened," Newsweek:
23 September 2002, 41.
Eugene V. Debs, "The Canton, Ohio Anti-War Speech,"
June 16, 1918, Eugene V. Debs Internet Archive, HYPERLINK "http://www.marxists.org/archive/debs/works/1918/canton.htm"
www.marxists.org/archive/debs/works/ 1918/canton.htm .
Eric Hobsbawn, "War and Peace," The Guardian,
23 February 2002, 2, HYPERLINK "http://www.guardian.co.uk/Print//0,3858.4361441.00.html"
Marc Herold, "Counting the dead," GuardianUnlimited,
8 August 2002, 3, HYPERLINK http://www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/0,4273,4477606,00.html
www.guardian.co.uk/Archive/Article/ 0,4273,4477606,00.html .
While analyst Herold conservatively places the number of Afghan civilians
killed between 3,125 and 3,602 for the period between October 7, 2001 and
July 31, 2002, other analysts place the figure of Afghan civilian deaths
at between 4,000 and 8,000. See Ibid; John Cherian, "War and Resistance,"
Frontline, vol. 19, March 30-April 12, 2002, I, HYPERLINK http://www.hinduonnet.com/fline/fl1907/19070460.htm
www.hinduonnet.com/ fline/fl1907/19070460.htm (forward in email received
4/6/02); John Pilger, "The Colder War," Mirror, 29 January 2002, 1,
Walden Bello, "The American Way of War," Center for Research on Globalization,
6 January 2002, 1, www.globalresearch.ca/articles/BEL 201A.html .
The Holy Bible (Scofield Reference Bible), St.
Matthews, 5:39, 5:44, New York, Oxford UP,  1945.
Ibid., Matthew, 25: 51-52.
Charmaine Seitz, "Internationals on the Front
Lines," The Nation, 7 April 2002, 2, HYPERLINK http://www.thenation.com/docPrint.mhtml?i=special&s=seitz20020407
www.thenation.com/docPrint.mhtml?i=special &s=seitz20020407 .
Investigative journalist Robert Scheer recently
noted that it was "embarrassing" to hear "Bush in his [September 2002]
speech to the United Nation . . . trotting out examples of Iraq's war crimes
from the days when Saddam was a de facto ally of the United State."
And, he noted, "It's so inconvenient that Iraq did not appear to use any
chemical or biological weapons during the Gulf War or in the decade since
but definitely did back when Saddam was our partner in the war against
Iran's Islamic revolution." But "worse," Scheer points out, is the
fact that "U.S. companies, with the permission of the Reagan and elder
Bush administrations, supplied Saddam with the ingredients for making such
savage weapons." Still, with CIA reports that "Iraq was using mustard
gas against Iran as early as 1983 and nerve gas against Iranian troops
[in 1984] . . . the Reagan administration removed Iraq from its list of
terrorist nations." In fact, the "United States," says Scheer, "gave
this man we now casually call a Hitler $1.5 billion in weapons and technology
in the five years before the  Gulf War." See Robert Scheer,
"Iraq: The Phantom menace," Salon.con, 19 September 2002, 2,
www.salon.com/n.../scheer/2002/ 09/19/irq/print.html . Cited as Scheer,
"Iraq." Elsewhere Scheer notes that "the Taliban's members and its
Arab supporters in Al Qaeda are veterans of the moujahedeen, who were once
hailed by the Reagan administration as anti-Soviet 'freedom fighters.'"
Indeed, Scheer points out, the Taliban government was not only "congratulated
by U.S. officials only weeks before Sept. 11  for having dramatically
eliminated Afghanistan's huge opium harvest," but it was rewarded with
increased U.S. economic aid through the U.N." Now, of course, "with
the Taliban gone, Afghanistan is again the major supplier to the world
heroin market," but "conveniently" the Afghanistan drug war "is now ignored"
by U.S. policy makers. See Robert Scheer, "Simplistic Hunt for Evil
in a Complex World," Los Angeles Times, latimes.com, 20 August 2002, 2,
. Journalist John Pilger, points out these results and practices
are simply part of the ages old "great imperial game of swapping 'bad'
terrorists for 'good' terrorists, while untold numbers of innocent people
have paid with their lives." See John Pilger, "The War of Lies Goes
On," The Mirror, 16 February 2002, 1, HYPERLINK http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/falloftaliban/talibanfall/page.cfm?objectid=11427&method=full
"The National Security Strategy of the United
States of America," Washington, D.C., September 2002, 6.
Ibid. My emphasis.
Dickey and Thomas, Newsweek, 23 September 2002,
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. "Unilateral Preventive
War: Illegitimate and Immoral," Tom Paine.common Sense:
A Public Interest Journal, (First Published in Los Angeles Times, 21 August
2002), 16 September 2002, 1, HYPERLINK "http://www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/6391/view/print"
www.tompaine.com/feature.cfm/ID/6391 /view/print .
Richard Falk, "The New Bush Doctrine," The Nation,
July 15, 2002, 1-2, HYPERLINK "http://www.thenation.com/docPrint.mhtml?i=20020715ts=falk"
www.thenation.com/docPrint.mhtml? i=20020715&s=falk . Actually,
the "Bush Doctrine" of preemption and ongoing U.S. unilateral military
actions are merely an acceleration of the rapid erosion of U.S. policy
makers’ doctrinal regard for the system of international law. After
all, since the Bill Clinton Administration, U.S. policy makers have advanced
the claim the Article 51 of the U.N. Charter does not actually mean what
it explicitly states about the right of states to use force only against
an "armed attack" or when authorized to use force by the U.N. Security
Council. The Bush doctrine of preemption simply pushes that contention
to its logical doctrinal conclusion and claims that Article 51 actually
authorizes self-defense against the possibility of a future attack, as
determined solely by U.S. policy makers.
Robert Scheer, "Iraq," 2. Unsurprisingly,
the Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul D. Wolfowitz shares his boss's view
on incrimination by lack of evidence. As he described his theory
in an interview, Wolfowitz said: "'There's an awful lot we don't
know, an awful lot that we may never know, and we've got to think differently
about standards of proof here.'" See Bill Keller, "The Sunshine Warrior,"
New York Times, nytimes.com, 22 September 2002, HYPERLINK http://www.nytimes.com...0292&pagewanted=print&position=top
www.nytimes.com...0292&pagewanted =print&position=top .
"'In fact,'" he continues, "'there's no way you can prove that something's
going to happen three years from now or six years from now.'" Thus,
he declares that "'proof beyond a reasonable doubt is the way you think
about law enforcement'" but not about going to war. That act, apparently,
should be left to unelected policy makers like himself because he asserts
that he and others like him can best understand what others "'intentions
are.'" See Ibid.
Robert Scheer, "Iraq," 2.
Department of Defense, Under Secretary of Defense
for Acquisition & Technology, "The Defense Science Board 1997 Summer
Study Task Force on DoD Responses to Transnational Threats, Vol. I, Final
Report, Washington, D.C., October 1997,