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From the Charley Reese archives - 27Feb2002

Odd Way to Fight a War

I don't see how we can fight a war on terrorism without either a declaration of war or a definition of "terrorism."

Look at the recent news. American planes have bombed Afghans who are not members of al-Qaida or the Taliban. They are just Afghans who oppose the central government set up in Kabul. So does participation in a civil war constitute fighting terrorism? Or does it constitute support for a government that probably agreed to allow oil and gas pipelines to run through Afghanistan?

At first, the president said that we were going to hunt down al-Qaida wherever it existed.

Now he is emphasizing changing regimes in Iraq and Iran and possibly in North Korea.

What has that got to do with terrorism? The CIA says Iraq has not been involved in terrorism for the past 10 years. More important, what right does the United States have to decide what governments will or will not exist in other countries? None. We have no moral right, no philosophical justification and no right under international law to decide who will govern people in other sovereign countries.

Oh, the government says that Saddam Hussein is a threat to his neighbors. Well, under Saddam, how many countries has Iraq attacked in the past 22 years? Three. Kuwait, Iran and Israel.

How many countries have we invaded or attacked? Well, let's see. There's Panama and Grenada and Haiti and Lebanon and Libya and Sudan and Somalia and Yugoslavia and Iraq and Afghanistan.

That's 10 to Saddam's three.

And how many of those countries had declared war on us, or attacked us, or had even threatened to attack us? None. In how many countries does Iraq have troops permanently stationed? None. How about us? More than 100. Could it be that we are a greater threat than Iraq?

The president likes to use self-defense as a rationalization. Well, I believe in self-defense, but self-defense does not extend to killing people who some think might be a threat in the future. How do you think you would fare if you killed somebody and told the police: "Well, he wasn't attacking me, but I know he doesn't like me, and so probably some day, he would have attacked me. I just decided to take him out as a precaution"? You'd be charged with murder one.

This so-called war on terrorism is entirely too ambiguous. It amounts to a license for the Bush administration to attack anybody it decides to attack, and it gives a green light to every repressive government on Earth to kill off its opposition under the guise of fighting terrorism.

Am I annoying you? Well, I hope so, because Americans need to understand that a lot of nasty things are being done in their name. Americans need to realize that they've been excluded from the debate on foreign policy. If you question the president, you're unpatriotic. But don't you think presidents who deliberately ignore the Constitution are unpatriotic?

It seems that when our leaders get drunk on power, a lot of Americans get drunk, too. "We're the most powerful nation on Earth," some guy says. Well, how many B-52s or F-16s do you have parked in your back yard? What is this "we" nonsense? You and I aren't powerful. People who control power are using us as pawns. The only things in my back yard are a hammock, a birdbath and a miniature windmill.

We need to rebel. We need to send a message to Washington that without a formal declaration of war by Congress, we aren't serving in the armed forces. We need to teach our children that one takes a precious human life only in defense of other human life or our liberty but never just to achieve a political or corporate objective that has nothing to do with the defense of our country or our liberty.

Are we living in a democratic republic, or are we living under a system of corporate fascism?

Is our government honest, or does it deceive us and withhold information? I hope you realize that it wasn't just the Taliban the government denied a look at the evidence of al-Qaida's involvement in Sept. 11. The government denied us an opportunity to see the evidence, too. It showed us the bin Laden tape well after the war had started.

Former Orlando Sentinel columnist Charley Reese writes for King Features Syndicate.
Reese @ King Features Syndicate

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