June 20, 2013
Taking a Stand Against War
Posted on May 11, 2008
By Scott Ritter
“WHEREAS, Iran has not threatened to attack the United States, and no compelling evidence has been presented that Iran poses a real and imminent threat to the security and safety of the United States that would justify an unprovoked unilateral pre-emptive military attack.”
In fact, there is overwhelming evidence that Iran, rather than conspiring against the U.S. in the Middle East, has actively reached out to Washington in an effort to normalize relations. Iran was the first Islamic nation to condemn the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attack on the United States, and Iran coordinated with the U.S. military on certain aspects of the American military response in Afghanistan. Likewise, Iran was supportive of the U.S. drive to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
In May of 2003, Iran made a bold diplomatic approach to the United States which sought to resolve outstanding issues such as the Iranian nuclear program, Iranian support for Hamas and Hezbollah, and Iran’s relationship with Israel. It was the United States which rejected this outreach, not Iran. The fact is that it is the unilateral policy objectives of the Bush administration, which revolve around regime change in Iran, which serve as the principal threat to regional peace and security in the Middle East today. Iran poses a threat to no nation, least of all the United States.
“WHEREAS, We support the people of Iran who are struggling for freedom and democracy, and nothing herein should be construed as supportive of their government, the Islamic Republic of Iran, but a unilateral, pre-emptive U.S. military attack on Iran could well prove counterproductive to the cause of promoting freedom and democracy in that country.”
“WHEREAS, A 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), representing the consensus view [of] all 16 U.S. intelligence agencies, concluded that Iran froze its nuclear weapons program in 2003, and an earlier NIE concluded that Iran’s involvement in Iraq “is not likely to be a major driver of violence there.”
While the United States has been plagued by the increasing politicization of intelligence—prime examples being the October 2002 National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq and the creation within the Pentagon of a special intelligence entity (the Office of Special Programs, under the guidance of Douglas Feith) whose sole purpose was to introduce into the policymaking body data and information which had been rejected by the intelligence community as unfounded—the entire work of the intelligence community cannot be dismissed out of hand, especially when it publishes a major finding which clashes with the position held by an activist administration. The fact that the U.S. intelligence community and the Bush administration do not agree on the specifics of how Iran constitutes a threat to America in and of itself begs intervention in the form of congressional oversight. It is not unpatriotic for Congress to hold hearings for the purpose of discerning the facts surrounding a given policy. When such policies involve war or the threat of war, the need is even more imperative, and the failure of Congress to act accordingly represents a dereliction of duty which must not be ignored by the American people, whom Congress purports to represent.
“WHEREAS, an attack on Iran is likely to cause untold thousands of American and Iranian casualties, lead to major economic dislocations, and threaten a much wider and more disastrous war in the Middle East.”
While it is currently in vogue for ideologues and proponents of neoconservative ideology to promote a “limited airstrike” against Iran, anyone with any military experience will point out that no plan survives initial contact with the enemy. The Iranian government will have a say in how it will choose to respond in case of an unprovoked American military strike, however limited it might be. Any Iranian retaliation might prompt an American counter-retaliation, and one might find a limited strike quickly spiraling out of control and threatening full-scale conflagration. The American economy has been bankrupted by the war in Iraq, and the American military, especially the Army and Marines, is stretched to its breaking point. While an argument can be made that any limited strike would rely primarily on the resources of the Air Force and Navy, if the conflict escalates, this will no longer be the case. Given the fact that any attack on Iran would represent an elective war rather than a war of national security, there is no compelling reasoning which cites the so-called national interest for the United States to consider any military action against Iran, either now or in the future.
“WHEREAS, a pre-emptive U.S. military attack on Iran would violate international law and our commitments under the U.N. Charter and further isolate the U.S. from the rest of the world.”
Most Americans remain ignorant of the laws which govern our nation, and the document which serves as the foundation of these laws. The United States Constitution, in Article 6, declares that international treaties and agreements ratified by a two-thirds vote in the Senate become the supreme law of the land. The United States is a signatory to the charter of the United Nations, and the charter has been ratified by the U.S. Senate. As such, the United States is bound by international law and its own Constitution to not only reject pre-emptive warfare (a notion cited by the Nuremburg tribunals as the greatest of all war crimes, since it is from pre-emptive war of aggression that all other war crimes are born), but note that the United States can justify going to war only as a result of legitimate self-defense (i.e., in response to an attack), per Article 51 of the U.N. charter, or as a result of a Chapter VII resolution of the United Nations Security Council authorizing the use of military force.
The Bush administration violated every legal principle the United States claims to represent, internationally and domestically, when it pre-emptively invaded Iraq in 2003, without provocation and void of any Chapter VII authorization. Two wrongs do not make a right, and it is imperative that the Congress take action to make sure that the administration is not permitted to embark on a similarly illegal and illegitimate course of action regarding Iran.
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