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War Dictatorship

by Wolfram Adolphi Thursday, Jul. 10, 2003 at 2:51 AM

"The US attacked Iraq. The US dictated this war to the whole world. They showed they considered nothing but their national security and their national interests.. This war dictatorship is the dictatorship of arbitrariness and unpredictability."

War Dictatorship

By Wolfram Adolphi

[This article originally published in: Utopie kreativ, May 2003 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web, Wolfram Adolphi, b. 1951, is a member of the Utopie kreativ editorial staff who has published articles on themes of international relations.]

The reasons for the 2003 Iraq war went through more sudden changes than for past wars. These reasons were shifted and fabricated to veil the true goals.

Since these lines were printed, an unknown number of war victims are remembered, Iraqi women and men, children and the elderly, soldiers and militia men. American and British soldiers of different complexions mostly from the ranks of the poor and the poorest in their countries are now marching against even poorer ones in Iraq.

Journalists all over the world

Whether we will ever learn the real numbers of the killed and wounded is unclear. The numbers of the 1991 Gulf war are still vague today. Exact statistics are withheld from us. Even ten years after the battle, one can still die where enriched uranium weapons appear as happens massively in Iraq. The “enriched uranium” still emits radioactive radiation even after the explosion. In Basra, cancer sicknesses dramatically increased after 1991. In the US, tens of thousands of suffering soldiers were left alone with their fate after 1991. In Iraq hundreds of thousands of children died of hunger or through contaminated water. They are all war victims. Many new victims will be added.

Will it help if we know the numbers? Those who want wars essentially build on historical forgetfulness and numbers without faces.

The language of war veils, lies and leads astray. Regret for the death of civilians in direct fighting who are always “innocent civilians” suggests there is nothing to regret in invaded Iraq? Who are the soldiers? If the dictator is so unfathomably dangerous that he could only be neutralized by war, then the soldiers of the country were not volunteer but were forced into the army by this Saddam Hussein and had no chance of escaping this fate. Now they are dead, killed on their own earth and only because of the accidental place of their birth. Those who willingly served the dictator are blamed for resistance, not involvement in an offensive war. Is there no compassion and nothing to regret?

This war is the war of the US and Great Britain against Iraq that began on March 20, 2003 though publically announced and prepared for over a year. This is a war of aggression, an offensive war, an attack. International law prohibits this war and the threat of war.

On April 9 the television stations proclaimed that the Iraqi capital Baghdad was almost entirely in the hands of US troops. The relief is general, even among the European opponents of this war. Who would want a continuation of unending bombardment, a continuation of battles of ground troops or an even greater number of victims? Who wasn’t relieved by Saddam Hussein’s overthrow?

The media commentators fell to the temptation of a later justification. Didn’t this rapid victory give a meaning to the deaths of many? Even if this wasn’t as fast and “surgically precise” as announced, wasn’t it much faster than expected? Don’t the pictures of jubilant persons speak of hope and opportunities? The preparation for the next war lies in the justification of this war.

When the television stations entered into a grotesque competition over the most graphic, most truthful and most uninterrupted “presence”, the private broadcast station “Vox” made a strange single-handed effort in its most broadcast time. It showe4d the feature film, a Hollywood film with the title “Dave”, a cheerful, sensuous, socially-engaged US president turned to the things of life and talking very normally with people about work, social projects, culture and love. The film mocked the real representatives who have fallen into a coma. What a utopian picture, a US administration simply concerned with its own country, the 250 million people there who are aware that they don’t represent all humanity or even half, a tenth or a twentieth but a twenty-fifty, a people unthreatene3d from the outside.

The main lie of this war is that the country is somehow threatened from the outside. This lie doesn’t become truer through constant repetition. In 1980 Ronald Reagan may have had a plausible reason for his rearmament program in the confrontation of the blocks. This kind of threat collapsed once and for all with the implosion of the superpower. Another threat has not arisen. The door stood wide open for a world of disarmament and peaceful exchange. Combating the real threats of humanity was finally possible with the wealth in worldwide knowledge, ability and money: hunger and thirst, poverty, old, new and unknown sicknesses, destruction of the environment, destruction of energy-, water- and food resources. The US has slammed the door shut.

Isn’t television one of these threats? Terrorism is a threat for all humanity, not only for the US. This terrorism cannot be combated through war but only by a whole bundle of coordinated non-belligerent measures. A democratic system of international relations in which equality and mutual respect of different civilizations are self-evident is one of those measures along with worldwide coordinated instruments of police and judicial criminal prosecution including all states. What was September 11, 2001? Wasn’t it a threat of the US from outside? Too many questions remain open to answer this question. The US still has not presented any convincing evidence for its thesis since the hour of the attacks that responsibility lies with Al-Qaida or some other Arab organization. The fact-finding investigation is still in the same state as on the day after the attacks. The investigations have had no results. This is a very dubious process in itself given the dimension and complexity of the terrorist acts and the many unanswered questions. (1) The incisions in civil rights of freedom in the US substantiated with these terrorist attacks, the war against Afghanistan contrary to international law and the breach of human rights in treating prisoners in Guantanamo accessible to no one have not advanced the discovery of truth.

While the events of September 11 are unexplained, the events of this day were instrumentalized single-mindedly and prepared for a long time. “Whoever wants to write with arguments from pyrology misunderstands political history”, Golo Mann wrote in 1958 referring to the Reichstag fire. The fire was used politically and surrounded by a witch’s circle of political lies before it was extinguished.” (2)

By not tearing away the veil lying over September 11, the US maintains the events of this day as a general substantiation of war and strategy in which other erratic and incalculable reasons can be inserted never examined any more as to results. The war against Afghanistan was proclaimed and waged as a war against terrorism and for Osama bin Laden’s arrest although the evidence for a connection between the Taliban and September 11 is still very thin. If one thinks further in the logic of war justification, one must conclude after the “victory” of the US – that the US declared without apprehending Osama bin Laden – that the danger of terrorism is now reduced. However this is not the case. US president Bush announced that the threat has increased.

If a war intensifies a threat instead of diminishing it, what reason supports new wars? To avoid such questions, the US constantly formulates new goals in the Afghanistan war. The war dictatorship in opinion formation is anxious today in preventing questioning after reaching these goals. Who questions after the development of democratic structures and the liberation of women? Who questions after the economic rebuilding? The only news of the mega-news agencies in the last weeks focused on attacks of B52 bombers on settlements of anti-government groups in the south of the country. Who was targeted? Groups like Osama bin Laden’s followers that were mobilized with open and concealed US assistance for the struggle against the Soviet occupying power.

The reasons for the 2003 Iraq war went through more sudden changes than the reasons for the Afghanistan war. There were hidden chemical-, biological or nuclear weapons without a plausible explanation on how Iraq could have successfully manufactured these weapons since its devastating military defeat of 1991 and give3n the subsequent sanctions, no fly zones and inspections. Then the refusal of inspections begun by Saddam Hussein in 1998 was a reason for war and then a lack of cooperation with the inspecto4rs in 2002 when they were in the country. Finally when no weapons of mass destruction were found, the 100 rockets with a range of 25 kilometers sufficed as a reason or war. Now since the US is the “victor”, they were not more successful in the slightest in the alleged main war question of chemical-, biological or nuclear weapons. They found nothing.

What should be said at the end of all these reasons for war? These reasons were shifted and fabricated and have a double function: veiling the true goals of the US and preventing the search for alternatives.

The clearest alternatives are expressed in numbers. Bush asked for billion during the war for its payment. No one knows what percentage of the actual war costs were included. However all children of this world could be provided with adequate food, basic medical care, elementary school and clean water for three years with 0 billion. The whole budget of the UN including peacekeeping and special organizations for 13 years could have been paid or 540 years of the work of the OSZE, the European Security and Development agency. (3)

The US attacked Iraq. The US dictated this war to the whole world. They showed they considered nothing but their “national security” and their “national interests”. Threatening worldwide economic breakdowns, cultures and life forms, international law and basic principles of democracy do not interest them in this connection. This war dictatorship is the dictatorship of arbitrariness and unpredictability. Reasons for war are cited at pleasure, potential war enemies are named at pleasure and war timetables and war scenarios are developed at will. “The ambivalence”, Dietmar Ostermann commented in Frankfurter Rundschau, June 2002, “has a method. Washington wants to be incalculable. This is the new foundation of deterrence (4).

If the US was really intent on removing the dictatorship in Iraq, the US would have occupied all of Iraq in 1991 and overthrown Saddam Hussein. Iraq would have been spared 12 years of dictatorship and the world – if one follows the Bush-logic – would have been spared 12 years of threat. Why did the US decide differently? H. Norman Schwarzkopf, commander-in-chief of the US armed forces at that time answers: “If the United States and Great Britain resolved to occupy Baghdad, we would have been regarded as occupying powers. We would have borne all the costs caused by a restoration of an Iraqi government and other services for the population. From my experiences in the short time when we remained in occupied Iraq after the war, I became convinced that we could not simply abandon the country after occupying all Iraq and that we and not the United Nations would have to bear the occupation costs. I was convinced that strained American taxpayers would not have accepted this burden.” (5)

At that time the war was a war with a UN mandate. Today the US is in no way better economically than at that time. Is this a single-handed effort? Will the post-war order be dictated single-handedly? This doesn’t follow any logic – with one exception: world domination hubris, world domination arrogance or presumption. (6)

The worldwide protest against the war shows how the US action is seen as war dictatorship. This protest has many different forms. (7) In the US a strengthened peace movement was heard at demonstrations, signature campaigns and public declarations of intellectuals and artists. Some of the sharpest and clearest analysis occurred there. The pope saw himself challenged to the most determined opposition. The massive protests in the Arab and Muslim world partly accompanied by acts of violence reveal the extent of humiliation inflicted on these two civilizations by the US. The gulf arising in the different interests on this side and on the other side of the Atlantic was manifest since France, Germany and many other European states refused to follow the US. Russia, Japan and China saw themselves forced by the US to forge temporary alliances. Nevertheless all this could not prevent the Iraq war.

The war dictatorship made the UN its victim. Un intervention as peacemakers in other burning conflicts like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict or festering conflicts like the Indian-Pakistani conflict now seems infinitely harder than at the end of the nineties,

Still there is hope in this deep crisis. The courting of the US for votes for a second resolution in the UN Security Council giving a blessing to its war from usually unnoticed African countries was a sign of its conscious danger of complete isolation. The hope of the world economy for a short war after months of threatened war is a sign that this world economy is much too global and interwoven for wars to be won. “No country in the 20th century has successfully expanded its power through war or through “military buildup”. (7)

Can the US be moved to a change? If Europe should make the mistake of expanding its military power to stand up to the US – which is entirely inconceivable given the American superiority -, more respect will not be commanded or useful helpers made available in a new “war against terror”. No, what is necessary for Europe is actually a very different strategy: definitive orientation to peaceful conflict resolution. Allies can be found all over the world for this orientation. Money and power are available for this perspective. “Let us dare to be strong by rejecting militarism and concentrating on the internal economic problems of our societies”, Todd said in this connection. (8)

Let us dare to be strong. Let us not be afraid of clearly naming things by name. On the assumption of seeing itself exposed to a threatening Islamism, the Bush administration developed “Americanism”. In fact, we face an “imperial Americanism”, as Michael Brie recently declared in Freitag, an “imperial Americanism” that relies on direct force and unilateral action under suspension of internatonal law.” (9)

Anti-Americanism is the defense against this war dictatorship. This has nothing to do with a hostility against the population of the US as is conjured again and again or with a denial of culture, a malevolent rejection of a way of life or contempt of historical accomplishment.

1 A detailed investigation of the events around September 11 can be found in: Mathias Brockers, Conspiracies, Conspiracy Theories and the Mysteries of 9/11, Zweitausendeens publishers, Frankfurt 2002.

2 Golo Mann, German History of the 19th and 20th centuries, Frankfurt 1958, 20th edition 1989. – Golo Mann wrote this on the Reichstag fire: “If the Fuhrer had not accepted this swindle manifest to every child (according to which the communists set fire to the Reichstag), if the true arsonists Hitler and his people would have been strongly and clearly named, the president, the army and conservatives would have cancelled the decision of January 30.. When conversely the nobility and bourgeoisie put up with the atrocity and pretended to believe the fire magic, then they had to swallow the far more incredible things commanded them and lost their political property, parliamentarism, parties, rights of the territories, rights of the civil service, legal security generally, intellectual freedom and freedom of action. They accepted this.”

3 For the statistic, see These calculations and statistics are based on the US Congressional Budget Office (CBO) 9/02 and statements of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) 12/02 and Prof. William D. Nordhuas, Yale University 12/02.

4 Dietmar Ostemann: Unpredictable US, in: Frankfurter Rundschau, June 17, 2002. In this commentary, we read: “Two new terms appear in the new Bush doctrine. The old pillars deterrence and containment should be supplemented with `prevention’ and `defensive intervention’… Washington obviously believes that a mandate for first strikes isn’t necessary. Its own constitution gives the government enough authority because `defensive interventions’ protect its own population… The new Bush doctrine is being tested in practice in Iraq… What if other states claim the right to `defensive intervention’ for themselves? Who qualifies everything as a future threat? Who is threatened and who is not threatened? Must China see itself as the `strategic rival’ and most likely adversary of the US in a hypothetical Cold War of the 21st century?”

5 H. Norman Schwarzkopf, A Hero Isn’t Necessary, autobiography, Munich 1992. Schwarzkopf says on Saddam Hussein’s military strength after the war of 1991: Saddam was “forced to withdraw behind the borders of his country. His facilities for producing nuclear, biological and chemical weapons are destroyed. This will continue if we prevent him gaining these weapons as in the past with the help of unscrupulous western and eastern firms more interested in material profit than world peace. Saddam’s armed forces have accepted a crushing defeat and represent no threat any more for any nation.”

6 I found the term “world empire hubris” in a commentary by Karl Grobe in Frankfurter Rundschau on March 14, 2002. Under the title “Panic and Bomb Plans”, Grobe declared: “There is a prehistory that reveals the development of a world strategy.. The first phase was the call to arrest the authors of the crimes of September 11, dead or alive, which in the past came to nothing. The second phase was the destruction of the Taliban regime including collateral damages while the stability goal for Afghanistan was missed in the past. The third phase is justified with numbers one and two and involves establishing military bases from Yemen to Uzbeckistan, from the Philippines to Georgia. The fourth is the invention of the `axis of evil’ including war preparation against Iraq. The fifth stage declares nuclear war as feasible. This involves connecting oil- and pipeline interests with the struggle against terrorism.. The world imperial hubris is its strongest element.”

7 The spontaneous student demonstrations reflect the general feeling of threat produced by the war dictatorship. Tens of thousands who grieved with the US on September 11, 2001 are incensed at how politics has developed out of and with this event.

8 Emmanuel Todd, Weltmacht USA, 2003.

9 Ibid.

10 “Whoever appeals to freedom, human rights, democracy and free markets”, Brie argues, “and then acts concretely in subordination under the US to violate all legal norms and accept monopolistic access to all global resources falls inevitably into a legitimation crisis.” (Michael Brie, “Amerikanismus. Funf Thesen, Freitag, Nr. 14, March 28, 2003.

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