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CAUT Bulletin Archives

September 2003

Defence of War is Defenceless

Morton Weinfeld says he wishes he had Victor Catano's certainty in opposing the attack on Iraq but then states "there was no other option but military force." I am astonished at his casual dismissal of "legality" as "not the ultimate criterion for moral or prudent conduct."

He laments the horrors of Saddam Hussein's regime but neglects to mention that Hussein's most brutal crimes were carried out during the period when he received the greatest military and diplomatic support from the U.S. and Great Britain. Indeed, in 1983, Donald Rumsfeld paid a visit to Saddam to enhance the relationship between the two countries. This visit took place one month after the U.S. Secretary of State was handed a document detailing Hussein's almost daily use of chemical weapons as well as other human rights abuses.

What this makes clear, of course, is that many of the atrocities that trouble Weinfeld may have been prevented if the U.S. had chosen to exercise its influence over this regime.

Weinfeld also claims that "most of the dire predictions about repercussions of the war have so far not come about." In fact, the opposite is true. Many of the consequences which opponents of an attack warned against have indeed been realized - more (not less) terrorism, lawlessness, material deprivation, social and political disorder and inflamed regional tensions. On the latter, his crediting the "war" with having "revived the previously stalled Israeli/ Palestinian peace process" seems like a cruel joke today.

Weinfeld concedes that "accidents and tragedies happen during war," and that the "Americans should have done more to forestall the looting of Iraqi museums, universities and hospitals." He makes no mention, however, of the thousands of dead civilians or the thousands more maimed.

This was not a war. This was an obscene act of imperial aggression, a fact any honest analysis would easily reveal.

Ross MacKay
English, Malaspina University-College