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[casi] Voice of the people: "let the Iraqi people live"

Dear All,

Every Sunday, Canadian state radio (CBC) has a 2-hour
phone-in on a current issue. People may also express their
opinions on the CBC website.

Last Sunday the program was split between the air shuttle
disaster and Iraq. The question on Iraq was based on the
Christian Just War Ethic (JWE). "Can a pre-emptive war be
considered just"? That is, "when can a war be considered just"?

An "expert", a university professor, listed the five principles
of the JWE. Even by these principles, this would not be a
'just' war, he said. A political analyst also said this war
would not be justifyable.

Then came the voice of the people: 80 percent of the callers
and 85 percent of the website respondents opted against war
on Iraq. They scoffed the idea of Saddam Hussein posing a
thread. Again and again, they cited the deaths and the
suffering accomplished in the silent sanctions war.

(Under the US Air Force Doctrine, if not the JWE, civilian
morale is a legitimate target. And the sanctions have certainly
undermined the living Iraqis' morale - the dead suffer no more.)

Here are some of the responses:

"A 'just war?' How can you call what is about to happen a
war? The question should be: Is this a just massacre? The
UN estimates 300,000 casualties in Iraq in the initial phase
and up to 1 million in the year after. Almost all of these
will be civilians."

"I am a Christian" said a caller, "but I reject the Just War
Ethic. All war is evil."

"I am an Irani and know the region", said another. So I don't
buy the claim that Saddam Hussein is a threat. And as someone
who has "lost family and my best friend in the Iraq/Iran war,
I am against this war. I say let the Iraqi people live".

Several respondents drew parallels between the space shuttle
disaster and the impending attack on Iraq:

     "The world was saddened by that terrible loss [air shuttle].
     But, just a little thought, if we felt that sad for the
     death of the seven astronauts, how about the disaster of
     losing thousands, and probably hundreds of thousands of
     innocent Iraqi people."

     "Seven innocent persons were lost in the Columbia and the
     continent grieves; we face the loss of thousands of Iraq
     citizens in the upcoming war and where is the grief for
     them? Are we saying here that North American lives are
     worth more than those of others?"

Questioning the reasons/motives:

     "Why didn't the US attack the Soviet Union which was a
     much greater threat to the US as the US would have
     everyone believe at that time, using the logic of
     pre-emption? Wasn't it because they couldn't do this
     without suffering heavy casualties? In the case of Iraq,
     they know that they do not have to fear any casualties
     and hence can attack it with impunity. Hence, what does
     this leave us with in terms of US intentions? Isn't it
     just to control the resources of the region for the benefit
     of the US and its multinational corporations?"

And a scathing indictment on the world's indifference:

     "Keep your mind focused ... on Saddam Hussein. Do not permit
     it to stray toward the thousands of Iraqi people, including
     ordinary Iraqi soldiers, whom we must unfortunately kill in
     order to disarm Saddam. Don't think about them. Think only
     about how wonderful and glorious it will be to see Saddam
     dead or put into the dock at an international war-crimes
     tribunal or paraded through the streets.

     "This war is about liberation. Yes, it's true that the
     thousands of Iraqis we must kill in order to finally get
     to Saddam will not experience the joys of that liberation.
     They will be dead. But think about the Iraqis who will
     live to experience them. Even those who are maimed, blinded,
     and paralyzed will sing our praises...

     "But just don't think about the deaths and injuries that
     we must inflict on the Iraqi people in order to disarm
     Saddam. Keep your mind focused only on him, and you'll do fine.

     "After all, think about how you have handled our economic
     blockade against Iraq, which has now been in effect for
     more than 10 years, a blockade that has contributed to
     the deaths of an estimated 500,000 to 1,000,000 Iraqi
     children, who also unfortunately will be unable to experience
     the joys of our war of liberation.

     "Have those deaths bothered you? Probably not. And the
     reason they haven't is that you haven't thought about them.
     Right? You've just kept your mind focused on how evil
     Saddam Hussein is and on the importance of a regime change
     in Iraq. Right? Well, it's important that you do the same
     thing once we begin our invasion.

     "Much has been said about the three high UN officials who
     resigned their posts because of the deaths of the Iraqi
     children that our blockade helped to cause. Pay them no mind.
     Once the UN voted to establish that blockade, those officials
     had no moral right to resign their positions just because
     they were suffering a crisis of conscience. That's not what
     loyalty and patriotism are all about.

     "After all, did you see Janet Reno resign her post after we
     gassed our own people at Waco, including the Branch Davidian
     children? Of course not. Because, unlike those UN officials
     who resigned their positions because of a crisis of conscience,
     Reno, a true American, loyally and patriotically stayed at
     her post."

     "Anyway, it's not really our blockade that has killed those

In this mood wrote and spoke the people of Canada - a country
proud of its democratic principles. Date: February 2, 2003.

And should we be unable to stop this massacre, just think how
handy the JWE will be to justify the casualties and the destruction.

Lt. Col. Kenneth Rizer of the U.S. Air Force admits that by
the internalist argument of the JWE, even the Holocaust can
been justified:

     "The internalist argument is fairly controversial as it can
     justify every sort of grotesque conduct so long as the end
     is just. Additionally, the historical record of this mode
     of thinking is poor, as it has been used to justify such
     things as the Crusades, Sherman's march to the sea, the
     Holocaust, and the dropping of the atomic bomb. While one
     can always debate the legitimacy of the causes for these
     acts, the fact remains that the internalist argument has
     been manipulated to condone some of the most indiscriminate
     and inhumane acts in world history."
     (internalist vs externalist)

And logic compels Col. Rizer to asks critical questions about
the (infamous) "intent". It is a "rhetorical sleight-of-hand",
he asserts:

     "According to one RAF source, RAF tactics 'did not
     necessarily entail killing large numbers of people. It
     did entail depriving them of homes, heat, light, water,
     urban transportation, and perhaps food.'50 This rhetorical
     sleight-of-hand failed to explain how one attacks every
     aspect of civilian existence, including their homes, but
     avoids killing 'large numbers of people.'"
     (This refers to WWII.)

Col. Rizer also challenges current US doctrine on 'intent'
on the same grounds (deception):

     "One other point is worth noting. Air Force doctrine
     since the 1930s has included civilian morale as a
     legitimate target, although direct attacks on civilians
     have always been forbidden (except for during WWII).
     This raises the question, how does the Air Force intend
     to undermine civilian morale without having an intent
     to injure, kill, or destroy civilian lives?"

"Bombing Dual-Use Targets: Legal, Ethical, and Doctrinal
Perspectives" by Kenneth R. Rizer

So why is the CBC (and the media in general) now trying to
sell us the "just war" excuse. But, as this phone-in shows,
people are not buying the argument.

And justifying the genocide inflicted on the Iraqi people
by any principles would be tantamount to holocaust denial.

Would you want to inflict more pain on the victims by denying
this genocide? Think of the pain that's already buried in
their hearts.

Inflicting pain - is this the price you are willing to pay?
Just so the 'civilized' West looks squeaky-clean? And where
does this leave us - as human beings? Sorry, compadres, I
don't think the price is worth it.

Elga Sutter

P.S. I've come to respect Lt. Col. Kenneth Rizer of the U.S.
Air Force. A week ago I didn't even know he existed.

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