Do The Freakin Math

Liberals and conservatives alike frequently rely on limited evidence, personal experience, religious beliefs or gut emotions to determine solutions for complex problems. From immigration to global warming - taxes to terrorism - or health care to free trade - analytical study is rare. Science based policy making isn’t the way of Washington. And the consequences are catastrophic. Change is urgently needed. Just do the freakin’ math.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Haditha and the Law of War (printed Jan 5, 08)

Article published Jan 5, 2008
Letters to the editor

January 5, 2008

Haditha and the law of war

Diana West's assertion that the U.S. Marines accused of murdering 24 Iraqis in Haditha are actually innocent victims themselves may be correct, but as she also notes, it is hard to swallow. Only those men who survived that day really know what crimes may have been committed in Haditha.

However, Miss West is far off the mark if she believes false accusations are the "defining atrocity" of Iraq. The war itself is the defining atrocity, and, I will add, a war crime worthy of investigation and punishment.

It is an atrocity for us not to know how many innocent Iraqis have been killed and not to know within 100,000 deaths what the real number may be. Estimates range from 60,000 to many more than 600,000 deaths.

It is an atrocity for an even greater number to be wounded and 2 million more to be displaced from their homes because of the false accusations of the Bush administration and others (including myself) who assumed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) at the time of our invasion.

It would have been an atrocity if we had invaded and Saddam, in retaliation, had released WMD in the form of weaponized smallpox. Such retaliation would have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of people, including millions of Americans.

It is an atrocity that although everyone insists the war in Iraq can't be won militarily and that helping the Iraqi people find jobs, clean water, reliable electricity and a safe place to live should be front and center, 95 percent of our expenditures in Iraq have been devoted to kinetic force instead of benevolent kindness.

The real atrocity is believing there is a "law of war."

War by definition is lawlessness and ensures the mass murder of innocent people even when significant efforts are made to avoid the loss of innocent life. Law implies enforceability. There is no means of enforcing against global violations of war ... except by more lawlessness in which innocent people die as a result of war or sanctions.

The U.S. Marines who were "doing their job" in Haditha may not be guilty, but our president and those who elected him (and then re-elected him) are not innocent bystanders. Someone should be held accountable for the massive loss of innocent life, liberty and property. And I don't mean in the next election.

Impeachment should not be off the table. War crimes are crimes, no matter who commits them. What we need is the global rule of law, in which evidence is considered and differences settled in a courtroom, instead of the fog of war.




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