The following is an archived copy of a message sent to a Discussion List run by the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

Views expressed in this archived message are those of the author, not of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.

[Main archive index/search] [List information] [Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]

[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[casi] War Guilt in Iraq - Let justice be done

War Guilt in Iraq

by Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.

With tens, hundreds, of billions squandered, American men and women being
killed by the day, not to speak of Iraqis, a country smashed and in ruins,
an Islamic revolution threatening, and no end in sight to the unrelenting
fiasco, the question becomes: just who is responsible for the disaster of
the Iraq War?

I don't mean which individuals. We know the answer to that question. As for
Bush himself, he is so deluded about this war that he seems incapable of
expressing anything resembling a truth about it. He is like a person who
caused a 100-car pile up on a highway standing around claiming all is well.
One doesn't know whether to take the person to jail or the psychiatric ward.

War guilt addresses a broader question that historians and sometimes jurists
like to ask: which government? Since war is generally considered an awful
thing, it becomes crucially important to decide which country is finally
responsible for its occurrence. It is a matter of justice, and important for
trying to achieve peace on earth, that everyone understand which government
is responsible.

We know the answer here too, but the war party is constantly trying to muddy
the waters. The war party says that Saddam was uncooperative before the war,
that he harbored WMDs, that he was itching for a war, and even George Bush
said before the invasion that it was in Saddam's power to stop a war if only
he would comply with US demands. But was it really? Even if you believe that
the US is granted some divine right to tell other countries what to do,
could US ultimatums be taken seriously?

We've already seen how the WMD claim didn't hold up. It is tough for
Americans to admit it, but Saddam was telling the truth, and US leaders were
not. It turns out that there is much more to the story. It seems that the
Iraqi government did everything it could to avert a war, even aside from
revealing all known details about its weapons' programs in its accurate
12,000-page weapons declaration to the UN. It tried old-fashioned backdoor
diplomatic maneuvers as well, further establishing that the issue of war
guilt firmly lands on the US.

As has been widely reported, last March, as US troops gathered on Iraqi
borders, Saddam sent a message to the Bush administration through Imad Hage,
a Lebanese-American businessman, who had met with Saddam. It had first
reached the office of the under secretary for planning and defense, in
February. The message: Iraq has no WMDs, Saddam would permit US troops and
experts to do a search of the country, and Saddam would even permit free
elections - anything to avert a war. The same message was delivered in
London a month later to Pentagon adviser Richard Perle.

In addition, the Iraqis were prepared to hand over a man being held in
Baghdad on suspicion of involvement in the 1993 bombing of the World Trade
Center. They were ready to sign up in the US-led global war on terrorism.
They were ready to offer "full support for any U.S. plan" in the
Arab-Israeli peace process. It gets more astounding. Iraq was prepared to
offer US companies "first priority as it relates to Iraq oil, mining

Maybe Iraq would not have followed through with all these promises, but the
offer alone shows that Iraq wanted to make a deal, that it wanted to avert
war. That is the crucial thing.

The list alone reveals another interesting component so far uncommented
upon. As you go through the list of concessions - all now in the hands of
Senate investigators - it seems that government leaders in Iraq, including
Saddam himself, were as confused as anyone else was about the real reason
the US was threatening war. Was it about terrorism? Ok, we'll fight
terrorism. Dictatorship? Ok, we'll hold free elections. Iraqi support of the
Palestinian cause? Ok, we'll switch sides. WMDs? We would gladly dismantle
them if we had them. Oil? You can have it.

The communications hit all the bases, just in case one of these reasons was
the real reason for war. What we have here is a regime desperate to avert a
war, ready to do anything and everything to stop destruction, invasion, mass
death, and occupation. Moreover, members of the Iraqi regime must have been
scratching their heads to figure out precisely what was really driving the
Bush administration, and figured it was worth the effort to go all out for

Was the communication credible? Mr. Hage was well connected and his method
was consistent with old-time diplomatic standards in the Arab world. Those
he contacted took it seriously. Those who have attempted to discredit Hage
draw attention to the fact that he once tried to board an airline with a gun
in his carry on. So what? This is a common occurrence in the South where
people carry weapons all the time and sometimes forget to remove them before

Moreover, this turns out to be the final try made after a long line of
attempts to communicate the anti-war message, after it became clear that
Washington had every intention to go to war. The US response was mixed.
There were signs of listening but also signs that such outreach was

Indeed it was. It was well known in the White House that Bush entered office
with the purpose of getting Saddam, either because of a personal vendetta or
because he believed he was called by God to dislodge Saddam from power, or
both. Those who had a nose for subterfuge knew all along that the claims
about Iraq and its compliance with UN mandates were nothing more than

Many efforts will be made to discredit the flurry of stories that have
belatedly covered these diplomatic overtures. The debate will involve every
manner of partisanship and parsing. And yet, it was also increasingly clear
to many of us during 2002 that nothing Iraq could do or would do was capable
of averting the killing. It was a done deal.

Think of this. The US intended to go to war regardless of what the opposing
country would or would not do. There is precedent of course - the US
government has a long history of maneuvering itself into avoidable wars -
but rarely has the hunger for war been more open or more voracious, more
public and more aggressive.

Americans elected Bush because they thought he would cut government and
pursue a humble foreign policy. When you read about the history of the war,
in light of all these revelations, three points stand out. First, Bush is
not the man people thought they were electing. Two, the Bush administration
intended war all along and lied about it, and hence the war guilt rests with
the US. Three, these are impeachable offenses by any constitutional

Don't tell me: I'm against aggressive war - the first crime in the
indictment at Nuremberg - but this war was necessary. It was not necessary.
If you are against aggressive war, you are against the Bush administration.
What this suggests about the future is ominous. Something must be done to
disarm the US, to bring the US state in compliance with widely accepted
norms of conduct in international relations. It also means that no regime
installed by the US in Iraq can ever have credibility.

Bush and the state he administers caused this pileup. Let justice be done.

November 10, 2003

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr. [send him mail] is president of the Ludwig von
Mises Institute in Auburn, Alabama, and editor of

Sent via the discussion list of the Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq.
To unsubscribe, visit
To contact the list manager, email
All postings are archived on CASI's website:

[Campaign Against Sanctions on Iraq Homepage]