Tuesday, April 04, 2006

VIA CURSOR.ORG, AP'S VANESSA ARRINGTON reports that 13 U.S. soldiers have died in Iraq since April 1, including the nine who died today -- and April 1 was only three days ago. But as usual, it's much worse for Iraqis.

Although U.S. casualties have been on the decline, deaths among Iraqis have increased because of rising tensions between Shiite and Sunni Muslims. At least 1,038 Iraqi civilians died last month in war-related violence, according to an Associated Press count.

The AP count showed at least 375 Iraqi civilians killed in December, 608 in January and 741 in February. Most of the increase appeared a result of a sharp rise in the number of civilians found dead throughout Baghdad -- apparent victims of sectarian reprisal killings.

The alarming rise in civilian toll has put new urgency into efforts by Iraqi politicians to form a new national unity government following the December elections. That message was delivered by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw during a two-day visit that ended Monday.

"First and foremost, the purpose of this trip is to encourage and to urge the Iraqis to do what the Iraqis must do because the Iraqi people deserve it," Rice said. "But yes, the American people, the British people ... need to know that everything is being done to keep progress moving."

But progress from whose point of view? If you're an Iraqi living in Baghdad, like Riverbend, progress would be U.S. troops leaving Iraq before 2010 and not leaving permanent military bases behind. If you're Condi Rice or Dick Cheney, though, progress would be success in molding a government in Iraq that serves U.S. interests without looking too blatantly like a colonial outpost. This has been the goal all along, of course; neither nuclear armageddon nor the slaughter of Shiites or the gassing of Kurds ever had anything to do with why the U.S. invaded Iraq. But now Bush administration officials are getting bolder about using geopolitical rationales to justify the Iraq invasion. And Robert Parry at Infoshop News writes that the last time a country claimed a "right" to invade and occupy other countries for strategic reasons, the U.S. led the movement to defeat that country and make sure no other country could wage a purely aggressive war again.

During the three years of carnage in Iraq, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has shifted away from her now-discredited warning about a "mushroom cloud" to assert a strategic rationale for the invasion that puts her squarely in violation of the Nuremberg principle against aggressive war.

On March 31 in remarks to a group of British foreign policy experts, Rice justified the U.S.-led invasion by saying that otherwise Iraqi President Saddam Hussein "wasn't going anywhere" and "you were not going to have a different Middle East with Saddam Hussein at the center of it." [Washington Post, April 1, 2006]

Rice's comments in Blackburn, England, followed similar remarks during a March 26 interview on NBC's "Meet the Press" in which she defended the invasion of Iraq as necessary for the eradication of the "old Middle East" where a supposed culture of hatred indirectly contributed to the terror attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.

"If you really believe that the only thing that happened on 9/11 was people flew airplanes into buildings, I think you have a very narrow view of what we faced on 9/11," Rice said. "We faced the outcome of an ideology of hatred throughout the Middle East that had to be dealt with. Saddam Hussein was a part of that old Middle East. The new Iraq will be a part of the new Middle East, and we will all be safer."

But this doctrine -- that the Bush administration has the right to invade other nations for reasons as vague as social engineering -- represents a repudiation of the Nuremberg Principles and the United Nations Charter's ban on aggressive war, both formulated largely by American leaders six decades ago.

Outlawing aggressive wars was at the center of the Nuremberg Tribunal after World War II, a conflagration that began in 1939 when Germany's Adolf Hitler trumped up an excuse to attack neighboring Poland. Before World War II ended six years later, more than 60 million people were dead.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, who represented the United States at Nuremberg, made clear that the role of Hitler's henchmen in launching the aggressive war against Poland was sufficient to justify their executions -- and that the principle would apply to all nations in the future.

"Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have, however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive warfare is an illegal means for settling those grievances or for altering those conditions," Jackson said.

"Let me make clear that while this law is first applied against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to serve a useful purpose, it must condemn aggression by any other nations, including those which sit here now in judgment," Jackson said.

With the strong support of the United States, this Nuremberg principle was then incorporated into the U.N. Charter, which bars military attacks unless in self-defense or unless authorized by the U.N. Security Council.

This will probably sound weird, but the Bush/Rice/Cheney doctrine is like a twisted version of Harold and the Purple Crayon. The Bushies want to take a walk through the Middle East and draw their own brand-new landscape, using guns, bombs, threats, and political arm-twisting as their tools rather than an oversized purple crayon.

But even young Harold had the sense to think ahead and the flexibility to change the plan when it wasn't working.

"One night, after thinking it over for some time, Harold decided to go for a walk in the moonlight." So begins this gentle story that shows just how far your imagination can take you. Armed only with an oversized purple crayon, young Harold draws himself a landscape full of beauty and excitement. But this is no hare-brained, impulsive flight of fantasy. Cherubic, round-headed Harold conducts his adventure with the utmost prudence, letting his imagination run free, but keeping his wits about him all the while. He takes the necessary purple-crayon precautions: drawing landmarks to ensure he won't get lost; sketching a boat when he finds himself in deep water; and creating a purple pie picnic when he feels the first pangs of hunger.

The 50th Anniversary Edition is only $6.99. Might make a good gift for George's birthday.

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