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News and views on Israel, Zionism and the war on terrorism.

March 10, 2003

Carter really asked for it this time. Mind you, he always does

E. A. Remler one of our readers, takes on the NYT and Jimmy Carter

Jimmy Carter in the NYT has said the following and my responses follow.
For a war to be just, it must meet several clearly defined criteria.

The war can be waged only as a last resort, with all nonviolent options exhausted. In the case of Iraq, it is obvious that clear alternatives to war exist. These options previously proposed by our own leaders and approved by the United Nations were outlined again by the Security Council on Friday. But now, with our own national security not directly threatened.

The only point at which non-violent options are truly exhausted is reached when we have been already directly attacked or when another country declares war upon us. With modern weapons we cannot wait until we are hit first. Nor can we expect states to declare war on us before striking--even Japan did not, and Iraq certainly will not. We have been hearing from the Arab world for at least 20 years that they hate us and wish to destroy us. It is repeated in Mosques every week with no noticeable counter argument by other Moslems. This must be taken seriously when a state such as Iraq has made every effort to gather the materials to carry out this threat.
[...]and despite the overwhelming opposition of most people and governments in the world, the United States seems determined to carry out military and diplomatic action that is almost unprecedented in the
history of civilized nations.
This opposition is from nations who do not feel themselves under threat. If we do--and we do for good reason--we are under no moral obligation to ignore the threat to us.
The first stage of our widely publicized war plan is to launch 3,000 bombs and missiles on a relatively defenseless Iraqi population within the first few hours of an invasion, with the purpose of so damaging and demoralizing the people.
This ignores the stated policy of the US to avoid civilian casualties as much as possible. Why should we waste bombs on civilians? It is the military we wish to damage and demoralize. Why does Pres. Carter distort our policy when he certainly knows better?
The war's weapons must discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. Extensive aerial bombardment, even with precise accuracy, inevitably results in "collateral damage."
No war can be fought without collateral damage. This criterion for an unjust war makes all war impossible. Did the mass civilian bombing done by the allies in WW2 make that an unjust war?
Its violence must be proportional to the injury we have suffered.
No. Why must we have a dirty bomb explode in our cities before we take preventive action?
The attackers must have legitimate authority sanctioned by the society they profess to represent. The unanimous vote of approval in the Security Council to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction can still be honored, but our announced goals are now to achieve regime change and to establish a Pax Americana in the region, perhaps occupying the ethnically divided country for as long as a decade. For these objectives, we do not have international authority.
What makes a legitimate authority? The US government is a legitimate authority. The UN, on the other hand represents governments who, by and large, have no moral authority, singly or collectively. So why are they a legitimate authority?
The peace it establishes must be a clear improvement over what exists. Although there are visions of peace and democracy in Iraq, it is quite possible that the aftermath of a military invasion will destabilize the region.
Anything is possible, but it is highly improbable that Iraq can be worse off than it is today.
[...]and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home.
And thus we are cowed into not resisting these murderers.
Also, by defying overwhelming world opposition, the United States will undermine the United Nations as a viable institution for world peace.
It seems to me that France and it friends are undermining the UN to defend Saddam and a balance of power--which cannot exist, since they have no power.
What about America's world standing if we don't go to war after such a great deployment of military forces in the region? The heartfelt sympathy and friendship offered to America after the 9/11 attacks, even from formerly antagonistic regimes, has been largely dissipated;
In the face of the anti-Americanism we have been witnessing, how can anyone believe that was heartfelt sympathy and friendship?