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Bush's Routine Barbarism in Iraq
Published on Saturday, February 17, 2001 in The Progressive
Bush's Routine Barbarism in Iraq
by Matthew Rothschild
George W. Bush bombed Baghdad on Friday, February 16, and justified it by saying it was just a "routine mission to enforce the no-fly zone."

But bombing a city of more than three million people can hardly be called routine.

How would we like it if Saddam Hussein bombed Chicago?

And bombing another country's capital city can hardly be called routine.

How would we like it if Saddam Hussein bombed Washington, D.C.?

This was not some routine mission, but an act of barbarism, an act of war, on George W. Bush's part.

It was unconstitutional, and against international law.

Unconstitutional, because only Congress has the right to declare war under Article 1, Section 8. And Congress did not declare war against Iraq in the last few days, or maybe I missed something.

Against international law because one country can legally attack another one only after it's been attacked or is about to be attacked. Saddam Hussein did not, and cannot, attack the United States. Nor was he about to try.

Still, Marine Lieutenant General Gregory Newbold laughably described the bombing as "essentially a self-defense mission." Oh, how I love fudge words like "essentially."

There's no way this could be construed as "self-defense" by the United States.

And what's more, the United States has no right under international law even to set up the no-fly zone that this bombing was ostensibly designed to protect. The United Nations has not designated these no-fly zones. The United States and its junior partner, Britain, have done so on their own.

So, here we are, ten years after the Gulf War, and the United States is still bombing Baghdad. In the last couple of years, the Clinton Administration bombed Iraq almost every third day, though it didn't bomb Baghdad in the last two years.

True to form, Clinton's national security adviser, Sandy Berger, applauded the latest bombing. "This is a completely appropriate action," he said, and no doubt many other Democrats will applaud.

There's no domestic downside to bombing Iraq; every President since W.'s daddy has realized that.

And the injured Iraqi civilians don't matter at all to the decision-makers in Washington.

So maybe George W. Bush was on to something, after all, when he called this bombing "routine."

The violation of the U.S. Constitution and the violation of international law have become routine matters for U.S. Presidents, who arrogate to themselves the regal right to dispatch troops and conduct war whenever they feel like it.

The callousness to the innocent victims has become routine.

The approval of the Democratic Party has become routine.

And the indifference of much of the citizenry to this imperial exercise of power has also, I'm afraid, become routine.

Somehow, if we want to be a democratic nation, and if we want to be a moral force--and not just a military one--in the world, we're going to have to get out of this routine.

And the sooner the better.

Copyright 2001 The Progressive, Madison WI


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