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Lew Rockwell: "Why Did Bush Bomb"

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Why Did Bush Bomb?

by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

The Clinton administration helped train us to never believe the official
rationale for a bombing of a foreign country, particularly an impoverished
one. In the 1990s, foreign policy had more to do with domestic woes than
with actual international threats, no matter what Clinton or his spokesmen
said. But when it comes to providing something believable in place of the
truth, the Bush administration seems even less competent than its
predecessor. All the Bush White House could come up with for why it is
bombing and killing people in Iraq was "self defense." 

Look: Americans know what self defense is. It's when you shoot the guy
who has broken into your home to attack you. It's when you blast the
fellow who's trying to mug you or steal your car. It's a violent action
taken to prevent an aggression against your person or property. Transfer
the idea of "self defense" to national policy: it is something a nation
undertakes when its borders are attacked or its embassies blown up. 

The US military was not defending itself when it dropped bombs outside
Baghdad, even if you believe that Iraq was bolstering its anti-aircraft
capacities. When you are standing on Iraqi soil and look up to see US
fighters zooming around your airspace, and you look around and see that
the country has been beaten to a pulp by ten years of cruel sanctions, and
you notice that these planes drop bombs on a regular basis to correspond
with US political priorities, you too might consider bolstering your

Let's call the US bombing what it was, not defense but aggression, an
extension of a decade of aggression that has taken both economic and
military forms. There is no moral code, no religious tenet, no traditional
accepted rule of international law under which such a policy can be seen
as anything but immoral. What's more, it has undermined US credibility
yet again, just at the time much of the world was willing to give Bush the
benefit of the doubt. 

What is it about the office of the US presidency that leads men who would
never kill anyone in their capacity as individuals to believe that doing
so is fine so long as you use a weapon of mass destruction funded by the
taxpayer? What does George W. Bush think when he sees pictures of dead
Iraqi civilians and wounded women and children? Is he really (like
Madeline Albright) prepared to say it is "worth the price"? Under what
system of ethics, what rule of law? 

We know W. as a man of compassion, someone who reaches across the aisle to
befriend even sworn enemies. He's turned the other cheek many times, in
the election and since becoming president. He likes to put the past behind

What then are we to make of his behavior toward Saddam, which seems
designed to make a lifetime enemy at a time when relations were moving
toward normalization? He wouldn't lift a finger to punish Clinton's gang
for trashing the White House, but let Iraq try to protect itself from
armed American warplanes and Bush starts shooting and bombing people he's
never met. 

Listening to the pundits, reading discussion boards, scanning opinion
columns, you can take your pick of what you think is the REAL reason he
gave the go ahead. The number one theory says that Bush is settling old
family business, continuing a war begun by his father. In this scenario,
both the president and the vice president are simply pursuing a vendetta
against Saddam Hussein. But it's a heck of a way to do it, since every
bomb that falls on Iraq only strengthens Saddam's political standing in
Iraq and the entire Arab world. 

Other explanations are more creative. The Bush administration is in hock
to the oil interests who want to keep Iraq crippled in its producing
capacity, and thereby keep prices high and give monopoly profits to their
friends in Texas. This theory notes that Iraq has dramatically increased
its oil production in the last quarter -- possibly becoming a competitive
threat to American oil interests. 

Another theory has partisans of Israel within the administration
attempting to take the focus off the investigation of the Marc Rich
pardon. Or maybe Bush just wanted to bomb someone to show everyone in the
world, including our allies, who is boss. There are other stories of
splits within the administration, of conspiracies left and right. 

Whatever the case, the official rationale is not believed, either at home
or abroad. The stock market, hurting from very bad inflation reports,
tanked the day of the bombing. The question everyone is asking is: do we
have another warmonger in the White House? How tragic when Americans can
understand the meaning behind a cartoon that appeared this week, showing
Bush dropping bombs and saying "now I feel like a real president."

Bush has shown himself willing to learn from the mistakes of his father's
administration. He should remember most of all that his dad's war glory
was short lived. It brought him 90 percent approval ratings that lasted
only as long as the bombs fell. Later, he lost his reelection bid. 

The greatest legacy that his son could leave is different, one even
greater than cutting taxes: peace. It's not too late to reverse this very
bad first step. Stop the bombs. Pull the troops out. Start friendly
trading relations. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. 

February 19, 2001

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., is president of the Ludwig von Mises Institute
in Auburn, Alabama. He also edits a daily news site,

Copyright İİ 2001 

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