Thursday, August 31, 2006

Accountability for the crimes against Iraq and the Constitution

It becomes more clear daily that war crimes have been and are still being committed against the people of Iraq, and that the Administration is conducting a illegal war and by illegal means. In Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere, especially in its treatment of captured people, members of the armed forces of the United States have been given orders that violate the Geneva Conventions and have been thus, placed by the chain of command at risk of potential war crimes charges.

The high officials of the Bush Administration bear the heaviest responsibility for these actions. They must be held accountable. The war in Iraq is the greatest military and political and strategic blunder made by the US in decades. It has has damaged our military, our international standing, and our overall safety. And it has brought Iraq, a nation that languished under a dictatorship before, out of its relative authoritarian calm, to the very gates of hell -- a society in chaos, disintegrating, where the lives of men, women and children are wasted daily.

It has been a political, military, diplomatic and most importantly, a moral disaster.

And as I have said, the high officials of the Bush Administration: Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, Rove, Libby, Addison, Hadley and others bear the major burden of responsibility.

But they did not act alone. Just as in the case of other criminal actions of the state, many people share responsibility:

  • Members of the armed forces, who had the information necessary to see what was legal and what was not.
  • Members of Congress, members of the Executive agencies, Judges who have the duty to investigate and oversee executive branch actions.
  • Operatives of the political machine that kept the war criminals in power when challenged in the electoral system.
  • The press and media which did not investigate, but turned away from this story.
  • Citizens who voted for the war criminals, and the advocates who agitated for the war.

It is frightening, and sobering, and sickening to consider how many people in the United States contributed to, or enabled,this war.

I believe that each citizen of the United States is morally obligated to make a self-assessment, to take a moral inventory, and come to understand precisely how they enabled these crimes to be committed.

It will not do to argue that it is all Bush's fault. Nor will it do to say that "we are all responsible" in some vague and undifferientated way.

For us who are citizens and amateur advocates, who do not have the power of government in our hands, or who do not speak to the masses, it is incumbent on us to analyze our thinking and our speaking during this war. What arguments were persuasive to us, and which were not? What arguments did we spread from our little node in the network of private communications that are how most people are informed and persuaded?

All of this matters greatly. Some people are arguing already that the threat of an Iran armed with nuclear weapons is sufficient to require military force to prevent. We may end up in the debate against the next war without having summarized our roles in the last one.

As Jefferson said, "When I consider that God is just, I tremble for my country."

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I couldn't agree with you more and your observations about plans to go into Iran are frighteningly true. The phrase you spotted, "Islamofacism", is the attempt to frame all these current and future wars as struggles against "facists" and those of us who oppose them as 21st century Chamberlains. It is frightening to note how few in the media are challenging the current "Iran is gonna get the bomb" drumbeat --- when experts tell us that they are a decade away from having that capability.

Kate R.

Bill Baar said...

A UU Navy Chaplain served at Gitmo.