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Make War, Not Love by Eduardo Galeano

by Eduardo Galeano Thursday, Oct. 02, 2003 at 4:45 PM

"President Bush cannot patent preemptive war. It was invented well before him..`War is being imposed upon us," Hitler used to say as he pushed ahead with his vast criminal project. A majority of Germans believed him and went right along.." from The Progressive

Make War, Not Love

Eduardo Galeano/ The Upside-Down World

[This essay was published in The Progressive, September 2003. Eduardo Galeano, a Uruguayian journalist, is the auhor of “The Open Veins of Latin America,” “Memory of Fire.” And “Soccer in Sun and Shadow.”]

Of all forms of professional murder, war pays the best. And of all forms of war, preemjptive war provides the best alibis. Like “zero tolerance,” it punishes the defenseless not for what they have done or are doing but for what they might have done or could do.

President Bush cannot patent preemptive war, though. It was invented well before him. Other practitioners can be found in not-so-distant history. Al Capone sent many people from Chicago to the afterworld because he knew that it is better to prevent than to cure, Stalin imposed his purges on the basis of suspicion, Hitler invaded Poland proclaiming that Poland could invade Germany, and the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor because they could have been attacked from there.

“War is being imposed upon us,” Hitler used to say, as he pushed ahead with his vast criminal project. A majority of Germans believed him and went right along, just as a huge chunk of Americans believed that Saddam Hussein was a co-author of September 11 and an imminent threat. The language of warring powers hasn’t changed.

They all repeat the same phrase: Evil is forcing us to defend ourselves. In reality, Iraq was no threat to world peace, but in the speeches of Bush, Blair, and Aznar it was. The real weapons of mass destruction are the words that brought them into existence.


Donald Runsfeld defined Iraq as “a laboratory of future wars.” Bush, while he crosses the globe preachiing sexual abstinence, is busy minting new threats of war. Make war, not love.

Like nine Presidents before him, Bush sees red when it comes to Cuba. Referring to Cuba, he said not long ago, “The best way to make America more secure is to find the enemy before the enemy comes to you and that’s what we will do.”

The President, a specialist in involuntary plagiarism, was repeating one of Stalin’s phrases: “We must eliminate our enemies before they eliminate us.” The concept was Al Capone’s: “Kill before they kill you.”

The proof of Cuba’s dangerousness is in plain view in cinemas around the worled. In his most recent film, Die Another Day, James Bond, pursued as ever by bombs and bikinis, infiltrated Havanna and discovered there a secret high-tech cell for the recycling of terrorism.

But there is other, equally irrefutable proof against additional countries, and the list of candidates is long.

Which will be the next victim of mass murder cloaked as humanitarian action? North Korea, Syria, Iran?

There is one factor, one temptation, that tilts the scales toward Iran: The country is sitting atop the world’s second largest natural gas reserves, which gives the situation a certain urgency.

Like Iraq’s oil, this gas will never be mentioned by the invaders if Iran turns out to be the chosen target.


It turns out the president of the planet, like James Bond, has a license to kill. And with higher-level authorization: He incarnates Good by divine command. And Good cannot be judged.

The International Criminal Court should busy itself with the war crimes of Milosevic, and Saddam Hussein, but the instruments of God are untouchable.

Like all criminals, these armored archangels need impunity to work without troublesome intrusions spoiling their lives.

To guarantee impunity for preemptive war, nothing works better than a preemptive law. Bush signed it on August 2 last year, after it was approved by the House and Senate.

It’s called the Service-Members Protection Act.

It is the official response to the threateing creation of the International Criminal Court.

The law prevents the arrest, trial, or imprisonment of American military and allied personnel, “especially when they are stationed or deployed around the world to protect the vital national interests of the United States.”

It authorizes the President “to use all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the[ir] release.”

It authorizes the President “to use all means necessary and appropriate to bring about the[ir] release.”

It sets no limit on the use of these means.

Given the experience of history and present reality, this would allow for the invasion of Holland. If the judges of the International Criminal Court behave badly, it would be legally possible for the United Srtates to send troops to The Hague to liberate other soldiers who had fallen into their hands.


A couplet from Calvin Trillin:

“We think that God has never made / A country we should not invade.”

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