Saturday, March 22, 2003

Ear Ticklers #3

Moment of truth on Iraq?


The below clippings are presented as an alternative to the nearly monolithic perspective presented in the local and regional media on the current Iraq crisis. While we may not wish to agree with all or even much of what is clipped below, it seems to me that it is at least worth the investment of time to broaden our perspectives. (A longer form with the complete clippings exists, as research notes.)

Context: Romans 13:1 - 7

In light of a disturbing conversation I recently had with some sincere Christians who evinced ignorance on the biblical principles of biblical morality relating to civil government and the use of force, I first include an excerpt from Rom 13:1 – 7, and comment briefly on it:

Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgement on themselves. For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and he will commend you.

For he is God’s servant to do you good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the the sword for nothing. He is God’s servant, an agent of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer. Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also because of conscience.

This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God’s servants, who give their full time to governing. Give everyone what you owe him: If you owe taxes, then pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honour, then honour.

I have highlighted the critical portion of Paul’s remarks. We see where, though his primary focus is on the duties of citizenship, in addressing this, as usual Paul highlights the corresponding duties of civil authorities:

• Being God’s servant to do the citizen good – i.e. looking after the general and particular welfare of the citizens, especially through maintaining justice and sound government
• Doing good to the citizens, commending the right and restraining wrongdoers through the deterrence of the sword, or if that fails, punishing wrongdoers
• Governing: that is, properly administering the affairs of the state in the interests of the public and even the individual citizen, with high competence backed up by undivided loyalty and attention – the basis for reasonable (as opposed to confiscatory – “Thou shalt not steal”) taxing power

Clearly, the principal qualification, objective – and test -- of the civil authority is justice. However, the power of the sword, administrative control and taxation are inevitably great temptations, leading to two principal problems, corruption and tyranny. Compounding this is simple incompetence, due to a gap between holding power and having wisdom to use it well.

Thus, we come to the issues envisioned in the US Declaration of Independence of 1776, namely the rights of reformation and if necessary revolution.

The Right of Reformation – and if necessary, Revolution

This sounds peculiarly strange to Christian ears, but let us first see what the US DOI says:
We hold these truths to be self-evident:
That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that, to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shown that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same object, evinces a design to reduce them under absolute despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such government, and to provide new guards for their future security. [cf. for a direct precursor]

Indeed, we can see the roots of this political philosophy in the biblical history of Israel, where there were several revolutions in the face of the tyranny of Kings warned of by Samuel in 1 Sam 8:1 – 20.

Moreover, we have the words of the apostles in Acts 5:27 – 39, esp. v. 29, when the authorities in Jerusalem wished to silence the leaders of the early church:

“We gave you strict orders not to teach in his name . . . Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

“We must obey God rather than men! The God of our Fathers raised Jesus from the dead – whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree . . .”

This case is especially revealing, as it shows how the authorities plainly intended to use the power of the sword to cover up an earlier injustice on their part – the judicial murder of Jesus [cf. Mt. 27:1 – 26] – by silencing those who spoke the truth. So, ever since, the cross has loomed on the skyline of cities and their magistrates, as they contemplate their duty of justice.

Plainly, there is a limit to the just power of governing authorities. One that, should they persistently overstep, people have a right to protest and seek reformation, flee or -- in the extreme case -- to appoint representatives who, using their new status of legitimate power, seek to change the government, by peace if possible, by force if necessary to protect life and prevent further injustice. This has been long since discussed in the works such as Duplesis Mornay’s Vindiciae Contra Tyrannos [cf. for its impact on the US Revolution], or Rutherford’s Lex, Rex, or even Francis Schaeffer’s A Christian Manifesto.

But What of National Sovereignty?

In the case in view, we are looking at the international situation. For that context, the right of self-defense in the face of blatant aggression is not in dispute – though propaganda can sometimes lead well-intentioned people to imagine that aggression is not what it is, as has happened with Israel in the face of half a century of declared intent and repeated attempts to destroy it.

(Consider: why is it that lands repeatedly used as stages for wars of declared intent to annihilate “the Jews,” lands that were then captured by that doughty nation in defending itself are demanded back without reasonable resolution of the underlying issue? [Cf. Joan Peters’ From Time Immemorial for an admittedly controversial perspective, but one with detailed and to date un-refuted documentation.])

What is in dispute today, is the new situation, in which the world confronts faceless terrorism to advance the Islamist cause, potentially using so-called weapons of mass destruction, as well as failed states with tyrannical, rogue regimes that seek to acquire WMDs to use and/or to share with their terrorist partners through their intelligence services.

But, what about sovereignty?

The best answer lies in considering the issue of aggressive tyranny that threatens to spill over into wars of aggression. For, as the history of the 1930’s clearly shows, when dictators rise to power and begin to acquire the means of international aggression, prompt action by the great powers could avert the horrors that such dictators are wont to unleash.

For instance, after the First World War, Germany, as the principal aggressor, was subjected to a regime of arms control and inspection. However, the inspections failed (due to the non-compliance and evasion of the Weimar Republic) and Hitler was able to tap the resentment over defeat and the terms of the peace as well as economic instability and rise to power in the early 1930’s.

His first act of aggression was to attempt to re-occupy the Rhineland in 1936, which had long been the forge on which the German sword was made. Under the terms of the 1919 Versailles Treaty, French troops occupied the zone, but there had been an uprising in 1923, leading to several deaths of civilian protesters under questionable circumstances.

The French failed to stand their ground, even though Hitler’s intent was evident to all who would but seriously read his Mein Kampf. This book had been written in 1923, after he had been jailed for an attempted coup – the half-comical, but ever so portentous Munich Beer Hall Putsch.

Had the French and other leaders of the League of Nations simply resisted the German bluff (which was not backed by serious military strength), Hitler would have had to turn tail, and his regime would have collapsed. No wonder Churchill remarked in his The Gathering Storm, that never had there been a war that could so easily have been averted as the Second World War.

A few years later, after forcible incorporation of Austria into the now growing Reich, and after a campaign of agitation based on the bogus claim that the Czechs were oppressing the ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland, Chamberlain and Daladier forced Benes the leader of Czechoslovakia to hand over these lands -- which contained the main Czech defensive fortifications -- to Hitler at the now infamous Munich summit: land for peace.

The picture of Neville Chamberlain returning to Britain and triumphantly waving the agreement, announcing that Appeasement had achieved “peace in our time,” is now deservedly infamous.

In the aftermath of this fiasco, Roosevelt asked Hitler to clarify his non-aggressive intent towards the nations of Europe and the nearby regions. As William Shirer records in his The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, Hitler replied in a clever speech at the port city of Hamburg.

The sum of that speech was this: (1) Mr Roosevelt was a fine one to be raising such questions while standing on the bones of the dead Indians, and (2) he would be best advised to inquire of the British and French, who had carved up the world between them. Six years, a devastated continent and nearly sixty million dead later, the world learned a lesson that one had thought would never be forgotten.

The main lesson can be summarised: failure to stand up to aggression, because one is repelled by the horrors of a limited war, may set the nations down the road to a later war when aggressors have built up their capacity, ending in an unimaginable scale of barbarity, devastation and loss of life.

The second is like unto it: in a mass-media, public-opinion driven democratic age, aggressive tyrants will use the so-called “Turnabout” propaganda stratagem, to create the impression that they are the aggrieved, oppressed party. Echoing a current slogan, one could ever so easily imagine the chant: “Hitler is no angel – but Churchill is no saint!”

But, there is a third lesson: aggressors and tyrants leave behind them a trail of evidence: re-armament in the teeth of treaty obligations, oppression and scapegoating of minorities in their own country, suppression of civil rights, mass murder of their own civilian population (Hitler started on the infamous 1934 “Night of the Long Knives,” in which he slaughtered hundreds of alleged plotters and personal enemies all over Germany).

Thus, it should be possible to identify and restrain such would-be aggressors well in advance, and to hold them accountable before treaty and human rights obligations. Indeed, that is one of the major reasons for the cluster of Human Rights and armaments control agreements that are embedded in the UN system!

The problem is, that there may not be the moral clarity will to stand up in good time. This was why the League of Nations failed, and that is the peril that evidently faces the UN today.

But does Iraq really pose a threat?

Mr Hussein’s tyrannical and aggressive track record is not in doubt.

Over the twenty plus years since he seized power, he has twice launched wars of aggression against his neighbours: Iran, 1979, and Kuwait, 1991. He has lobbed 39 ballistic missiles into Israel’s cities. He has slaughtered upwards of a hundred thousand of his own countrymen, especially the Kurds in the North and the Shiite Muslims of the South. In so doing, he has resorted to gas attacks – thereby violating the longest-standing set of arms limitations obligations -- not only against opposing armies and guerrilla forces, but also against civilian villagers. His torture chambers are notorious, as are the ruthless methods by which he silences dissent, even to the level of personally shooting a Cabinet Minister who dared to differ with him.

Unfortunately, the world has consistently lacked the moral clarity to deal with these tyrannical and aggressive activities. Since Iran was perceived as the greater threat in the 1980’s, Western nations supported Iraq in its war against Iran and winked at his use of poison gases and programme to acquire other WMDs. The Kuwait invasion was triggered by an American Ambassador’s remark that suggested that the US was indifferent to the underlying dispute. When in the aftermath of the resulting war the North and South rose up, only token help was given (resulting for instance in the “No-fly zones”).

Sanctions-busting is notorious, and no effective counter has been made to the diversion of funds from the oil-for-food programme to rearmament and the building of grandiose palaces. (The West of course, is blamed for the resulting starvation and gaps in health services that have led to an estimated 500,000 deaths – never mind the contrasting picture in the Kurd-controlled regions that are under the same sanctions and relief programmes.)

Finally, the inspections and disarmament process have built up a twelve year track record of chicanery as rearmament plainly continues. Tied to this, there is a shadowy penumbra of worrying links to terrorist incidents and organizations.

Credible direct and indirect threats that could easily be deployed in support of the Baathist regime’s agendas therefore include:

• The use of improvised weapons -- such as the utility knives and associated hijacking techniques developed by Iraqi Intelligence services (who may well have trained al Quaida operatives using training camps that are complete with disused 707 jets) -- to convert civil airliners full of fuel and hapless passengers into suicide cruise missiles. Already, 3,000 are dead in one incident.
• Short-range, IR-sensing shoulder-fired missiles capable of bringing down airliners: possibly, TWA 800 is one case, and there was an attempt in Mombassa Kenya
• Ballistic and/or cruise missiles as well as drone aircraft capable of acting as cruise missiles with low-observability (i.e. “stealth”) characteristics. These can deliver WMD warheads at ranges to 100’s or 1,000’s of miles and ultimately inter-continentally. (In the case of the drones, we could wake up any morning to learn that a ship hundreds of miles at sea has delivered such a cruise missile tipped with anthrax or VX or a “dirty” radiological bomb to one or more coastal cities anywhere in the world.)
• Chemical WMD warheads with nerve gases such as Sarin, Tabun, VX or the WWI vintage gases such as Mustard Gas, capable of killing 100’s – 1,000s of people with the equivalent of super-insecticides. (In fact, Sarin and Tabun were discovered by German Chemists seeking to create insecticides in the ‘30’s.) Mr Hussein has already used such weapons against the Kurds and the Iranians, and apparently the mysterious Gulf War Syndrome and a surge in deformities and cancers in Iraq are due to attempts to use these horrors in 1991.
• Radiological bombs. By wrapping explosive warheads with intensely radioactive materials, such as Plutonium (which is also a deadly poison), it is possible to spread huge, toxic clouds across cities and regions. While this would not kill a very large number of people (right away – cancer!) it would spread panic far and wide similar to the Chernobyl accident.
• Biological agents, such as Anthrax or Smallpox or Bubonic Plague, or new germs created in biowar labs. These can be delivered using warheads, or even through the mail. They are capable of killing millions, through triggering epidemics.
• Nuclear warheads. Capable of wiping out entire cities with one blast. Sadly, in the 1960’s, it was demonstrated through an experiment with first degree graduates in Physics with access to only open literature, that within a couple of years, a credible weapons design can be made for a fission bomb similar to those that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Thus, anti-proliferation has to focus on control of access to Plutonium, Highly Enriched Uranium and just possibly Thorium, and on the key electronics components to trigger the blast.
• Also, there are persistent rumours of missing “suitcase nukes” from the arsenal of the former Soviet Union, which were intended as battlefield demolition munitions.

The Parallel to Terrorism: Piracy

It seems to me that the closest parallel to this so-called asymmetric warfare situation is the traditional international problem of piracy, which often depended for its success on sponsor states. Such states, at one time or another, included even Britain.

Clearly, the hands of the major nations, then -- as now -- were not fully clean!

However, when the major nations finally came to a consensus that this age-old horror was a threat to all, and made concerted efforts to wipe it out, it was eventually largely suppressed. (It thrives today in the Philippines and off Malaysia. There is even some still in the Caribbean, linked to the drugs trade!)

But, along the way, that included wars against sponsoring states, most notably against the home states of the Barbary Pirates of North Africa.

The difference is, that while 16th – 18th Century pirates could sack a city or seize a ship, now the threat is on a much larger scale, and it can come out of nowhere, with little or no warning, to strike anywhere, leaving massive devastation and unconscionable loss of life in its wake.

So, the challenge to the leaders of the nations is how to use their power and charge to protect their citizens from evildoers, to counter the new global threats.

Sadly, so far it seems the international community is not doing a very good job.

In Prayer for Justice and true peace,

March 18, 2003



My Grandfather Invented Iraq and he has lessons for us today.

. . . I have a confession to make: It was my grandfather, Winston Churchill, who invented Iraq and laid the foundation for much of the modern Middle East. In 1921, as British colonial secretary, Churchill was responsible for creating Jordan and Iraq and for placing the Hashemite rulers, Abdullah and Faisal, on their respective thrones in Amman and Baghdad. Furthermore, he delineated for the first time the political boundaries of biblical Palestine. Eighty years later, it falls to us to liberate Iraq from the scourge of one of the most ruthless dictators in history. As we stand poised on the brink of war, my grandfather's experience has lessons for us . . .

Moment of truth for the world

A Star Tribune cartoon, as republished Saturday in the Washington Post, has six panels, which surely capture the ethos of our time . . .

Iraqi people can smell freedom

On the eve of the U.S.-led assault on Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq, a New York Times reporter in Baghdad had an epiphany of sorts.
In an interview with PBS, John Burns reported from the Iraqi capital city that Iraqis are now speaking out – not just in hushed tones and whispers – about how they welcome the impending invasion.
They see the military action as their moment of liberation, he said . . .

Saddam's day of reckoning, America's year of discovery

. . . The invasion of Iraq caps a year of high political comedy that, in the final analysis, accomplished little for Saddam Hussein but changed the face of global politics well into the foreseeable future . . .

Has U.S. diplomacy failed in Iraq crisis?

. . . According to many commentators, including some of those who support President George Bush's stance, the answer is yes.
The truth is that we need historical perspective to know the answer . . .

Blame the Jews?

Some Americans apparently believe that we are going to war with Iraq "because of the Jews." Having written a book explaining anti-Semitism ("Why the Jews? The Reason for Antisemitism," Simon & Schuster), all I can do is marvel at the durability of anti-Semitism and the eternality of the charge that the Jews are responsible for everything anti-Semites fear . . .

'Old Europe' and Sudan's jihad
THE LANGUAGE of human rights flows smoothly from the lips of the leaders of France and Germany. But continuing Franco-German hegemony in Europe is bad news for human rights, especially for victims whose oppressors are European Union partners. Take, for example, the victims of the Sudanese government's genocidal jihad. In the words of US Secretary of State Colin Powell, there is ''no greater tragedy on the face of the earth than the tragedy that is unfolding in the Sudan.'' . . .

Why we're going to liberate Iraq
The following is adapted from a speech I gave Saturday at Southern Oregon University to a group largely made up of anti-war students and professional activists . . .
My speech didn't go over too well with that crowd, so I thought I'd try it out on WorldNetDaily's readers.
Since our purpose today is to try to shed some light on America's imminent invasion of Iraq, let's look at the situation together – honestly – and try to separate reality from fantasy and foolishness . . .

Kofi Annan's arrogance
On television screens around the world, Kofi Annan said: "The members of the Security Council now face a great choice. If they fail to agree on a common position, and action is taken without the authority of the Security Council, the legitimacy and support of any such action will be seriously impaired."
Mr. Annan, you're dead wrong.
Military action by the United States is legitimized by the U.S. Congress, not by the U.N. Security Council. On Oct. 16, 2002, Congressional Resolution 114 became Public Law 107-243 . . . .
Not another word is needed.
It is the U.N.'s 12-year failure to enforce 17 of its own resolutions that has allowed Iraq to become a serious threat to the United States. Now that Iraq is a threat which the U.S. must remove, Kofi Annan has the audacity to condemn the actions as "illegitimate." This pronouncement by Kofi Annan will make any action taken by the U.S. subject to the war-crimes provisions of the International Criminal Court, in the eyes of the United Nations . . .

Why Saddam must go
. . . To defeat Islamic terrorism, we must either deter or remove the countries in which terrorism is manufactured. Groups like al-Qaida thrive on state sponsors – countries that provide shelter, funds, and/or the fundamentalist environment that breeds terrorism in the first place. We must somehow motivate these states to abandon the terrorist infrastructure they currently maintain . . . . As long as terrorism serves its purpose, as long as there is more to gain than to lose, Mideast rulers will continue to exploit terrorist strategy . . .


The morality of war
In one last attempt to drum up support for war in Iraq, the White House is wrapping itself in the divine . . . [You may wish to look on the notes on Just War.]

FBI probes fake papers on Iraq Investigation eyes possible role of foreign intelligence service
By Dana Priest and Susan Schmidt

WASHINGTON, March 13 — The FBI is looking into the forgery of a key piece of evidence linking Iraq to a nuclear weapons program, including the possibility that a foreign government is using a deception campaign to foster support for military action against Iraq.

“IT’S SOMETHING we’re just beginning to look at,” a senior law enforcement official said yesterday. Officials are trying to determine whether the documents were forged to try to influence U.S. policy, or whether they may have been created as part of a disinformation campaign directed by a foreign intelligence service . . .

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