Seattle Post – Intelligence, Apr. 20, 2003 (Opinion)
The Bush administration’s doctrine of pre-emptive first strike represents a radical departure from previous U.S. national security doctrine and national values. Non-aggression had been the guiding beacon in the United States’ relations with the rest of the world.
Until George W. Bush, every president since Washington, including Lincoln, Wilson, FDR, Eisenhower and Kennedy, has adhered firmly to the principle of non-aggression and eschewed the temptation to engage in a pre-emptive war.
U.S. HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS
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Apologetics Index deals with cults, sects, and related issues – including religious freedom and other human rights.
America’s goverment frequently accuses countries (including, for example, France and Germany) that protect their citizens against destructive and/or fraudulent cults of violating ‘human rights.’ In addition, the USA even threathens those countries with economic boycotts should they not accept America’s views on these issues.
Ironically, while America chides other countries for alleged human righs violations, Washington consistently and deliberately refuses to address America’s dismal record of human rights violations. The Bible condemns the use of such differing measures.
As Christians, the publishers of Apologetic Index believe that they (and other Christians) should address human rights issues.
The publishers of Apologetics Index agree with those who consider America’s attitude toward international law – including its fight against the International Criminal Court, its use of torture, and its inconsistent application of the Geneva Conventions – presents a serious threat to the international community.
As members of Amnesty International, the publishers of Apologetics Index are outspoken critics of America’s manifold human rights violations. They encourage their fellow Christians to address these issues, keeping in mind the Bible’s two great commandments.
Even during the darkest hours of the Cold War, when the United States was confronted by an enemy of unequaled strength and determination possessing weapons of massive destruction capable of annihilating our country and its people, America held fast to the doctrines of deterrence and no “first use.”
Only once before in American history have Americans fired first, and, on that occasion, the Confederacy’s pre-emptive attack on Fort Sumter ended in disaster for the aggressors, enabling Lincoln to rally the United States behind defense of the Union and the ultimate abolition of slavery
As a practical as well as moral matter, the principles of non- aggression and no first strike provide a bright line rule for when armed force as an instrument of national policy can be justified under international law – when a country is attacked as this nation was on Dec. 7, 1941. Those principles have been codified in international law, as evinced by the U.N. Charter, and were a basis for the prosecution of German leaders at Nuremberg and Japanese leaders in Tokyo after World War II.
Under the doctrine of pre-emptive first strike, however, there is no bright line “trip wire” or trigger to justify military action. President Bush asserts the right to launch pre-emptive war whenever he thinks a county might pose a threat to the United States. The administration’s concept of “might” is not constrained by any need to provide a factual basis for the threat or to show some probability of harm to the United States to justify military action. Thus, the administration does not have to demonstrate that there is “clear and convincing” evidence of threat or probable proof of threat or even some evidence of threat; it reserves the right to launch a pre-emptive strike whenever one can argue that a country poses a hypothetical threat to the United States.
This is not to say that the United States has never intervened in the affairs of other nations. We have, of course, intervened early and often in the Western Hemisphere under the banner of the Monroe Doctrine, usually under the guise of restoring order to a country such as Haiti.
We also have launched military campaigns during the past 50 years under the aegis of the United Nations to confront invaders that, unprovoked, had attacked other nations in violation of the U.N. Charter and international law (Korea 1950, Kuwait 1990); and have intervened in civil wars under the justification of protecting local populations from subversion, violence and terror (Vietnam) or from ethnic cleansing (Yugoslavia 1991).
At no time had the United States launched an unprovoked attack on another sovereign nation that had not done us harm or threatened us with imminent harm. Our actions on March 19, 2003, put us in the company of the some of the most loathsome imperialists, dictators and tyrants of the 20th century.
The president is fond of saying that the attack on Iraq is exemplary of the first war of the 21st century, but it is more exemplary of the first global war of the 20th century. In July 1914, Austria-Hungary, in circumstances eerily similar to the present, used the assassination of Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo as a pretext for a pre-emptive strike against little Serbia, thus igniting the cataclysmic 1914-18 war.
The world paid dearly, as the general conflagration extinguished the old empires and led directly to the rise of communism, fascism and Nazism.
The pre-emptive attack became the modus operandi of 20th-century dictators, especially the charter members of the first Axis of Evil: Mussolini, Hitler and Tojo. Mussolini struck first with the Italian invasion of Ethiopia in 1935. Hitler honed the national security justification further by launching a pre-emptive strike against Poland in 1939 and against the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941. Finally, and ironically, we have embraced Japanese Prime Minister Tojo’s infamous doctrine of pre-emptive attack. Not long ago, the United States would act forcefully to oppose pre-emptive military action by both its Cold War enemies and its allies. The arguments made by the United States and Britain to justify attacking Iraq are markedly similar to those made by Britain and France in 1956 to justify their pre-emptive attack on Egypt and its strongman, Gamal Abdel Nasser.
Nasser, it was said, was a megalomaniac who wanted to control the Suez Canal, dominate the Middle East, destroy Israel, block Western access to Middle East oil and bring the West to its knees. When Britain and France attacked Egypt, President Eisenhower mobilized American policy to oppose the invasion and forced the British to abandon their Suez misadventure. Eisenhower understood, as the Bush administration does not, that a nation cannot simultaneously oppose aggression by other nations while reserving the right to wage pre- emptive war against those whom it believes constitute a threat to its national interests. Now the United States has chosen a different course. When it became clear in March that the United States would lose a vote in the Security Council on a second resolution authorizing an attack on Iraq, the United States and Britain abandoned the United Nations route, along with the rule of law, and attacked Iraq in the face of almost universal condemnation.
In so doing, the president of the United States defied and mocked the United Nations, likening it to the League of Nations in terms of irrelevance. The irony of this comparison is that the league was crippled at its birth by the United States’ refusal to participate in post-World War I efforts at collective security. And now the United States has dealt the league’s successor, the United Nations, a near-mortal blow .
With “shock and awe” felt by the rest of the world, the United States has turned its back on the teachings of Washington, Lincoln and Eisenhower, pulled down the pillars of the international system that Roosevelt and Truman helped build in 1945, substituted the rule of force for the rule of law in international affairs and forfeited its claim to moral authority in the world.
The ultimate question is the final price the American people will have to pay for a foreign policy that in all probability will mobilize the rest of the world in opposition to American power and that will, ultimately, make Americans less secure in their homeland, not more.
As this country veers wildly off the course set by our founders, the United States and the world desperately need new leadership who, like Eisenhower, understand that the United States cannot assert moral leadership in the world if the rest of the world perceives that it has abandoned a foreign policy premised upon respect for the rule of law and established international norms.