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Analysis Last Updated: Dec 18th, 2009 - 01:00:33

War is peace and where to put the Nobel Prize
By Nick Egnatz
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Dec 18, 2009, 00:27

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With his Afghanistan escalation and his Nobel acceptance speeches Barack Obama has defined himself as an enthusiastic advocate of American Empire and the Bush Doctrine of Preventive War.

�War, in one form or another, appeared with the first man. At the dawn of history, its morality was not questioned; it was simply a fact, like drought or disease . . . The concept of a �just war� emerged, suggesting that war is justified only when it meets certain preconditions: if it is waged as a last resort or in self-defense; if the forced used is proportional; and if, whenever possible, civilians are spared from violence . . . Evil does exist in the world.� [Nobel Acceptance Speech]

Is it Christianity that leads Obama to the conclusion that war is man�s natural state and evil exists? Just as many Christian sects teach there is no salvation without acceptance of Jesus Christ as savior to absolve us of our original sin (evil), U.S. Empire claims man is naturally evil and salvation on earth is only accorded to those that bow down and accept the hegemony (complete domination) of the U.S. Empire. Years ago, this line of reasoning was used to justify the divine right of kings and control of the masses as serfs and peasants. More recently, it has been used in our country to keep power from the people and bestow the reins on the elite class. An actual participatory democracy, as Lincoln defined it �government of the people, by the people and for the people,� has never been more than a pipedream in the U.S. and Obama�s choice of empire over democracy should come as no surprise to any serious student of U.S. history.

Empire ignores the fact that many of the Native American people lived in relative peace with their neighbors as did other aboriginal peoples around the world. Of course, the European invasion of the New World did awaken them to the Christian concept of evil, an anti-democratic approach that leads to the hypothesis that empires are necessary to protect the people from themselves and their neighbors. The Bush/Obama Doctrine of preventative war being necessary to provide for our security is the natural extension of this belief. Obama promoting the George Orwell �1984� doctrine that �war is peace� is similar to Christians, past and present, championing wars based on some twisted interpretation of Jesus Christ whose every word and action was devoted to peace and nonviolence.

The Afghan and Iraq Wars are not �just wars.� They were not �waged as a last resort or in self-defense.� Diplomacy was abandoned in both cases and since neither country attacked us, the self-defense claim rings hollow. What are the deaths of more than a million Iraqi civilians and the displacement of four million �proportional� to? Certainly not Iraq�s noninvolvement with the 9/11 attacks nor the WMD programs which no longer existed when we invaded in 2003, but certainly did exist in the 1980s when we assisted Iraq in acquiring them.

While there was certainly justification for going after the perpetrators of the 9/11 attacks, UN S.C. Resolution 1368 �Calls on all States to work together urgently to bring to justice the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these terrorist attacks and stresses that those responsible for aiding, supporting or harbouring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these acts will be held accountable;� Congress also authorized the use of force at the president�s determination of who was responsible for the attacks and those who harbored them. But the Congress�s authorization could not be done outside existing law (Constitution and UN Charter) that would require a specific UN Security Council authorization to invade Afghanistan. UN S.C. Resolution 1368 authorized bringing those responsible for the terrorists� attacks to justice. Going after al Qaeda and Osama bin Laden with a UN police action would require a UN indictment that there was sufficient evidence that al Qaeda and bin Laden were the responsible parties. Certainly, the invasion of Afghanistan to overthrow the Taliban government was never authorized by the UN Security Council.

Assume bin Laden and al Qaeda were responsible, although such culpability has neither been conclusively claimed nor proven. How does the Obama Doctrine of a �just war� square the invasion of Afghanistan and the subsequent eight years of death, destruction and suffering the Afghan people have endured with the proportionality of a handful of Taliban leaders allowing al Qaeda to camp out in the remote hinterlands of their country?

While Bush set a record for presidential dishonesty, Obama has told some whoppers himself.

�Under the banner of this domestic unity and international legitimacy -- and only after the Taliban refused to turn over Osama bin Laden -- we sent our troops into Afghanistan.� [Escalation Speech]

Two United Kingdom newspaper accounts tell a different story: �Returning to the White House after a weekend at Camp David, the president [Bush] said the bombing would not stop, unless the ruling Taliban �turn [bin Laden] over, turn his cohorts over, turn any hostages they hold over.� He added, �There�s no need to discuss innocence or guilt. We know he�s guilty.� In Jalalabad, Deputy Prime Minister Haji Abdul Kabir -- the third most powerful figure in the ruling Taliban regime -- told reporters that the Taliban would require evidence that Bin Laden was behind the September 11 terrorist attacks in the US, but added: �we would be ready to hand him over to a third country.�� [Guardian U.K., October 14, 2001]

�But as American warplanes entered the second week of the bombing campaign, Washington rejected the Taliban offer out of hand. �When I said no negotiations I meant no negotiations,� Mr Bush said. �We know he�s guilty. Turn him over. There�s no need to discuss innocence or guilt.�� [The Independent U.K., October 15, 2001]

The Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution makes treaties such as the UN Charter the �Supreme Law of the land.� The UN Charter, Chapter VI, Article 33 states, �The parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, shall, first of all, seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.�

Bush refused to negotiate making the subsequent invasion of Afghanistan an illegal �war of aggression� and as defined by the Hague Tribunal �the supreme international crime.� Even had the Bush administration first made a sincere attempt to negotiate, an invasion could not have been done without adhering to UN Charter, Chapter VI, Article 37 and receiving a specific Security Council resolution authorizing it.

Obama claims UN authorization:

United Nations Security Council endorsed the use of all necessary steps to respond to the 9/11 attacks. America, our allies and the world were acting as one to destroy al Qaeda�s terrorist network, and to protect our common security.� [Escalation Speech]

But the �necessary steps� were to determine guilt with an international indictment, utilize all diplomatic means available to nonviolently bring those accused to justice for an international trial and only if this fails, go after those indicted with force. Don�t overthrow the government of the country in which they reside without a specific UN resolution and then do so only if there is assurance that the resulting government will be better for the people of that country. Of course, we did none of these and eight years of subsequent war in Afghanistan have proven that we have not served the Afghan people any better than we have observed international law.

�We must begin by acknowledging the hard truth that we will not eradicate violent conflict in our lifetimes. There will be times when nations -- acting individually or in concert -- will find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified.� Acceptance Speech

He�s speaking about the U.S. Empire, our �Coalition of the Willing� that Bush bullied into marching into Baghdad and our non enthusiastic NATO allies in Afghanistan. What he fails to mention here is that we are bound by law (Constitution and UN Charter) to only use force within the framework of U.S. and international law. That means specific authorization from the UN Security Council for all wars. If the U.S. Empire can�t live with that requirement, the honorable course would be to resign from the UN and repudiate its Charter. Then we would only be guilty of wars of aggression and not hypocrisy.

�The United States of America has helped underwrite global security for more than six decades with the blood of our citizens and the strength of our arms.� [Nobel Acceptance Speech]

Here he justifies U.S. Empire and the wars of aggression in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as the CIA coups and black ops around the globe in Nicaragua, Cuba, Chile, Iran, Afghanistan, Greece, Guatemala, Haiti and too many others known (and unknown) to mention.

�To begin with, I believe that all nations -- strong and weak alike -- must adhere to standards that govern the use of force. I, like any head of state, reserve the right to act unilaterally if necessary to defend my nation. Nevertheless, I am convinced that adhering to standards strengthens those who do, and isolates -- and weakens -- those who don�t.� [Nobel Acceptance Speech]

Yet the actions he justifies were not in self-defense, but offensive actions against nations which had not attacked us and did not have the remotest capability to do so. Whatever standards Obama is talking about adhering to, certainly have nothing to do with U.S. or international law.

Obama has the gall to mention the Geneva Conventions and that �I prohibited torture.� He fails to mention that his refusal to investigate the preponderance of evidence (including admissions) that the Bush administration authorized torture makes him complicit in their crimes.

�Our overarching goal remains the same: to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to prevent its capacity to threaten America and our allies in the future.

To meet that goal, we will pursue the following objectives within Afghanistan. We must deny al Qaeda a safe-haven. We must reverse the Taliban�s momentum and deny it the ability to overthrow the government. And we must strengthen the capacity of Afghanistan�s Security Forces and government, so that they can take lead responsibility for Afghanistan�s future.� [Escalation Speech]

On December 4, three days after Obama�s escalation speech, the Taliban made an offer that they had �no agenda of meddling in the internal affairs of other countries and is ready to give legal guarantees if foreign forces withdraw from Afghanistan.� While the translation leaves much to be desired, it is obvious that this is meant as an offer by the Taliban to guarantee that they will not allow al Qaeda to operate from Afghanistan if we leave Afghanistan. How can a Nobel Peace Prize winner refuse to enter into negotiations with a foe that has offered to insure that our stated cause for war will not exist if we leave?

The selection of Obama as this year�s Nobel Peace Prize laureate is just an indication of how American Empire and the cancerous neo-liberal globalization (free markets, free trade, no regulations, tax cuts for the wealthy) it spawned have affected even moderately socialist Western countries. Transnational elite capital is not bound by geography or lines on a map and, evidently, globalization has its disciples in Norway too.

In 1997, the Nobel Peace Prize winner was the International Commission to Ban Landmines. In an ironic macabre twist just two weeks before his acceptance of the prize, the Obama administration refused to join 150 other countries who have signed the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty. Landmines are the military�s gift that keeps on giving years after conflicts have stopped. In 2006, UNICEF estimated that 20 percent of the 15,000-20,000 killed or disabled each year are children and that 80 countries have residual land mines.

Obama justifies the Afghanistan war:

 � . . . it is important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. .On September 11, 2001, nineteen men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people.� [Escalation Speech]

It is unfortunate that our gifted president did not choose to use his oratorical skills to enlighten an American populace that has been kept in the dark by the government and corporate media propaganda machine. His predecessor, George W. Bush, told us that al Qaeda had attacked because they hated us for our freedom. While President Obama didn�t use that line, he invoked the 9/11 attacks in much the same manner as Bush, without giving bin Laden�s stated reasons for jihad declared against the U.S. during Clinton�s presidency.

In 1996 bin Laden declared his jihad against the U.S. based on the following three points:

  1. The U.S.�s lockstep support of Israel in denying the Palestinian people an independent state and reparations for al Nakba (The Great Catastrophe) when an estimated 700,000 were forced to flee their homes as Israeli fighters claimed their lands for the present state of Israel.

  2. The U.N. estimated 500,000 Iraqi children under the age of five who died as a direct result of the U.S. led economic sanctions against Iraq during the Clinton years.

  3. The permanent garrisoning of U.S. troops in the Muslim holy-land of Saudi Arabia.

If al Qaeda attacked us on 9/11, it was for the above reasons and the American people certainly should know the truth. In no way do I condone terrorist attacks, whether committed by Muslim sects or my own government. But we are a self-proclaimed democracy, how can �we the people� direct our elected representatives to the right course of action if they refuse to tell us what�s really going on?

Is it possible that an informed American populace might actually want to change the way our government conducts its foreign policy? Is it possible that justice for the Palestinian people and the lives of Iraqi children would be causes that the American people would champion if fully informed? Is it possible that placing our troops in another culture�s holy land is not as important to our people as it is to our oil companies? Is it possible that an informed American populace might actually tell our president what he can do with his Nobel Peace Prize?

Nick Egnatz is a Vietnam veteran and member of Veterans For Peace. He has been actively protesting our government�s crimes of empire in both person and print for some years now and was named �Citizen of the Year� for Northwest Indiana in 2006 for his peace activism by the National Association of Social Workers.

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