By Michel Chossudovsky
Some of America’s wars are condemned outright, while others are heralded as “humanitarian interventions”. A significant segment of the US antiwar movement condemns the war but endorses the campaign against international terrorism, which constitutes the backbone of US military doctrine.
The “Just War” theory has served to camouflage the nature of US foreign policy, while providing a human face to the invaders. In both its classical and contemporary versions, the Just War theory upholds war as a “humanitarian operation”. It calls for military intervention on ethical and moral grounds against “insurgents”, “terrorists”, “failed” or “rogue states”.
Taught in US military academies, a modern-day version of the “Just War” theory has been embodied into US military doctrine. The “war on terrorism” and the notion of “pre-emption” are predicated on the right to “self defense.” They define “when it is permissible to wage war”: jus ad bellum.
Jus ad bellum has served to build a consensus within the Armed Forces command structures. It has also served to convince the troops that they are fighting for a “just cause”. More generally, the Just War theory in its modern day version is an integral part of war propaganda and media disinformation, applied to gain public support for a war agenda. Under Obama as Nobel Peace Laureate, the Just War becomes universally accepted, upheld by the so-called international community.
The ultimate objective is to subdue the citizens, totally depoliticize social life in America, prevent people from thinking and conceptualizing, from analyzing facts and challenging the legitimacy of the US NATO led war.
War becomes peace, a worthwhile “humanitarian undertaking”. Peaceful dissent becomes heresy.
The outbreak of the war on Yugoslavia in March 1999 was in many regards a watershed, a breaking point in the development of the “Just War” fought on “humanitarian” grounds. Many sectors of the Left both in North America and Western Europe embraced the “Just War” concept. Many “progressive” organizations upheld what they perceived as “a humanitarian war” to protect the rights of Kosovar Albanians. The war was described as a civil war rather than a US-NATO led bombing and invasion.
At the height of the NATO bombings, several “progressive” writers described the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), as a bona fide nationalist liberation army, committed to supporting the civil rights of Kosovar Albanians. The KLA was a terrorist organization supported by the CIA with links to organized crime. Without evidence, the Yugoslav government was presented as being responsible for triggering a humanitarian crisis in Kosovo. In the words of Professor Richard Falk:
“The Kosovo War was a just war because it was undertaken to avoid a likely instance of ‘ethnic cleansing’ undertaken by the Serb leadership of former Yugoslavia, and it succeeded in giving the people of Kosovo an opportunity for a peaceful and democratic future. It was a just war despite being illegally undertaken without authorization by the United Nations, and despite being waged in a manner that unduly caused Kosovar and Serbian civilian casualties, while minimizing the risk of death or injury on the NATO side.” Waging Peace, Falk Interview, 1 Aug 2003.
How can a war be “just despite it being illegally undertaken”, resulting in the deaths of men, women and children?
An illegal war, which constitutes a criminal act is upheld as a humanitarian endeavor.
Several progressive media joined the bandwagon, condemning the “Milosevic regime” without evidence, while at the same time condoning the NATO led war and expressing mitigated support for the KLA. In the words of Stephen Shalom, in a ZNet article:
“I am sympathetic to the argument that says that if people [the KLA] want to fight for their rights, if they are not asking others to do it for them, then they ought to be provided with the weapons to help them succeed. Such an argument seemed to me persuasive with respect to Bosnia.” (quoted in Michael Karadjis, Bosnia, Kosova & the West, Resistance Books, 2000, p. 170).
Human Rights Watch (HRW), which is known to support US foreign policy “urged regime-change for Yugoslavia, either through President Slobodan Milosevic’s indictment or a U.S. war to affect the same outcome.” (Edward S. Herman, David Peterson and George Szamuely, Yugoslavia: Human Rights Watch in Service to the War Party, Global Research, March 9, 2007). According to HRW Fred Abrahams, published in the New York Herald Tribune:
“[T]he international community’s failure to punish Milosevic for crimes in Croatia and Bosnia sent the message that he would be allowed to get away with such crimes again. It is now obvious that the man who started these conflicts cannot be trusted to stop them.” (Fred Abrahams, “The West Winks at Serbian Atrocities in Kosovo,” International Herald Tribune, August 5, 1998. quoted in Edward S. Herman et al. op cit)
Punishing a head of State by waging war on his country?
In 1999, Milosevic was portrayed by the “progressive” British weekly, The Observer, as the “Butcher of Belgrade”. (See Peter Beaumont and Ed Vulliamy, Ten years on, the end of the line, The Observer, 24 June 2001)
The same reasoning was put forth in relation to Saddam Hussein, in the months leading up to the March 2003 bombing and invasion of Iraq. Saddam Hussein was described by the same author of the London Observer as the “Butcher of Baghdad”:
“Saddam’s lonely childhood, bloody path to power and final, deadly miscalculation of his foreign enemies are charted by Peter Beaumont, foreign affairs editor” (See Peter Beaumont. The death of Saddam Hussein, The Observer, Sunday, December 31, 2006.)
Meanwhile, the names of the “butchers of Washington, London and Brussels”, who waged a “Just War” on the people of Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Palestine and Iraq are rarely mentioned.
Fake Anti-war Activism: Heralding Iran as a Nuclear Threat
Many people in the antiwar movement, while condemning the US administration, also condemn the government of President Ahmadinejad for its bellicose stance with regard to Israel. The Jus ad Bellum reasoning used as a pretext to bomb Yugoslavia on humanitarian grounds is now being applied to Iran.
President Ahmadinejad allegedly wants Israel to be “wiped off the Map” as first reported by the New York Times in October 2005:
“Iran’s conservative new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, said Wednesday that Israel must be ‘wiped off the map’ and that attacks by Palestinians would destroy it, the ISNA press agency reported.”
“Ahmadinejad was speaking to an audience of about 4,000 students at a program called ‘The World Without Zionism’ …. His tone was reminiscent of that of the early days of Iran’s Islamic revolution in 1979. Iran and Israel have been bitter enemies since then, and anti-Israel slogans have been common at rallies.” (See Nazila Fathi, Wipe Israel ‘off the map’ Iranian says, The New York Times, 27 October 2005)
The alleged “wiped off the map” statement by Iran’s president was never made. The rumor was fabricated by the American media with a view to discrediting Iran’s head of state and providing a justification for waging an all out war on Iran:
“On October 25th, 2005 …. the newly elected Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad delivered a speech at a program, titled ‘The World Without Zionism’….
“Before we get to the infamous remark, it’s important to note that the ‘quote’ in question was itself a quote— they are the words of the late Ayatollah Khomeini, the father of the Islamic Revolution. Although he quoted Khomeini to affirm his own position on Zionism, the actual words belong to Khomeini and not Ahmadinejad. Thus, Ahmadinejad has essentially been credited (or blamed) for a quote that is not only unoriginal, but represents a viewpoint already in place well before he ever took office.
“THE ACTUAL QUOTE:
“So what did Ahmadinejad actually say? To quote his exact words in farsi:
“‘Imam ghoft een rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods bayad az safheh-ye ruzgar mahv shavad.’
“That passage will mean nothing to most people, but one word might ring a bell: rezhim-e. It is the word ‘Regime’, pronounced just like the English word with an extra ‘eh’ sound at the end. Ahmadinejad did not refer to Israel the country or Israel the land mass, but the Israeli regime. This is a vastly significant distinction, as one cannot wipe a regime off the map. Ahmadinejad does not even refer to Israel by name, he instead uses the specific phrase ‘rezhim-e ishghalgar-e qods’ (regime occupying Jerusalem).
“So this raises the question.. what exactly did he want ‘wiped from the map’? The answer is: nothing. That’s because the word ‘map’ was never used. The Persian word for map, ‘nagsheh’, is not contained anywhere in his original farsi quote, or, for that matter, anywhere in his entire speech. Nor was the western phrase ‘wipe out’ ever said. Yet we are led to believe that Iran’s President threatened to ‘wipe Israel off the map’, despite never having uttered the words ‘map’, ‘wipe out’ or even ‘Israel’.
“The full quote translated directly to English:
“‘The Imam said this regime occupying Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time’.
“Word by word translation:
“Imam (Khomeini) ghoft (said) een (this) rezhim-e (regime) ishghalgar-e (occupying) qods (Jerusalem) bayad (must) az safheh-ye ruzgar (from page of time) mahv shavad (vanish from).
“Here is the full transcript of the speech in farsi, archived on Ahmadinejad’s web site: http://www.president.ir/farsi/ahmadinejad/speeches/1384/aban-84/840804sahyonizm.htm.”
(See the detailed article by Arash Norouzi, Israel: “Wiped off The Map”. The Rumor of the Century, Fabricated by the US Media to Justify An All out War on Iran, Global Research February 20, 2007)
What President Ahmadinjad was essentially calling for in his statement was “regime change” in Tel Aviv. (Compare Ahmadinejad’s bland statement on regime change in Israel with that of former Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, who called for “Ending states that sponsor terrorism”.
This alleged “Wiped off the Map” statement has served not only to justify a pre-emptive attack against Iran but also to subdue and tame the antiwar movement.
While the danger of an all out war on Iran is a matter of concern, it is by no means a priority for the US, Canadian and European antiwar movements. In the US, there are very few antiwar events focussing on US-Israeli threats directed against Iran (See Main US antiwar collective: United for Peace & Justice: Index, United for Peace & Justice: Events.)
On the other hand, there is an ongoing campaign led by United Against Nuclear Iran” (UANI), calling on President Obama and the US Congress to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons. (See UANI home page). The UANI collective, founded by Obama appointees Richard Holbrooke and Gary Samore, claims to be integrated by “human rights and humanitarian groups, the labor movement, political advocacy and grassroots organizations” (Coalition | UANI)
Notwithstanding Arash Norouzi’s disproval, many in the antiwar movement, while condemning the US, continue to believe that Iran constitutes a threat and that the solution is “regime change”. The funding of NGOs (which are constituent members of major antiwar collectives) by tax exempt charities and corporate foundations, has also contributed to weakening antiwar activism in relation to Iran. Iran is viewed by many within the antiwar movement as a potential aggressor. Its non-existent nuclear weapons are considered, a threat to global security.
A pre-emptive war using US made tactical nuclear weapons against Iran has been on the Pentagon’s drawing board since mid 2003. Both president Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have stated that “all options are on the table” including the use of nuclear weapons against Iran, without realizing that the use of nuclear weapons could lead humanity into a global nuclear war as outlined by Fidel Castro in a recent speech:
“Today there is an imminent risk of war with the use of that kind of weapon and I don’t harbour the least doubt that an attack by the United States and Israel against the Islamic Republic of Iran would inevitably evolve towards a global nuclear conflict. (Fidel Castro Ruz, VIDEO: Fidel’s Message against Nuclear War: “In a Nuclear War the ‘Collateral Damage’ would be the Life of All Humanity“, Global Research, October 21, 2010)
War and the Economy
The war economy is presented as a means to generating employment. At the height of an economic crisis, trade unions are called upon not only pay lip service to job creation in the defence industry but also to soften their antiwar stance. In a twisted irony, according to the Washington Post, a war on Iran would have the added advantage of resolving the economic crisis and triggering a “war recovery”:
“What else might affect the economy? The answer is obvious, but its implications are frightening. War and peace influence the economy.
“Look back at FDR and the Great Depression. What finally resolved that economic crisis? World War II.
“Here is where Obama is likely to prevail. With strong Republican support in Congress for challenging Iran’s ambition to become a nuclear power, he can spend much of 2011 and 2012 orchestrating a showdown with the mullahs. This will help him politically because the opposition party will be urging him on. And as tensions rise and we accelerate preparations for war, the economy will improve.
“I am not suggesting, of course, that the president incite a war to get re-elected. But the nation will rally around Obama because Iran is the greatest threat to the world in the young century. If he can confront this threat and contain Iran’s nuclear ambitions, he will have made the world safer and may be regarded as one of the most successful presidents in history.” (David Broder, The War Recovery, Washington Post, October 31, 2010)