Ron Forthofer: No More War Crimes in Our Name

By Ron Forthofer

In one of his most powerful speeches, that at Riverside Church in New York City on April 4, 1967, Dr. King spoke out strongly against the US aggression in Vietnam and about the need to change our values. Here are two key sentences.

"I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government."

"A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death."

Unfortunately, the speech is still relevant today. The ill-conceived and misguided U.S. war on terrorism clearly makes the American government the greatest purveyor of violence and terror today. The U.S. and its allies have devastated Iraq and Afghanistan and now just bombed Somalia, killing scores of innocents. Iraqis are facing a living hell and the lives of Afghanis are not much better.

Lost in all this U.S. terrorism is the fact that the attack on Iraq was illegal and a major war crime. Robert Jackson, the chief U.S. prosecutor at Nuremberg, said: "To initiate a war of aggression, therefore, is not only an international crime; it is the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole." Justice Jackson also said: "If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes they are crimes whether the United States does them or whether Germany does them, and we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."

The U.S. attack on Iraq was clearly a war of aggression. Iraq was not a threat to its neighbors or to the U.S. The stated reasons for the attack were known at the time to be questionable at best and outright lies at worst by those familiar with the reports from the UN weapons inspectors and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

Yet here we are again. The Bush administration and the neo-cons are trying to create a pretext for attacking Iran. They are using the same nuclear weapons fear-mongering campaign that they did with Iraq. This current campaign also flies in the face of reality. There is no evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program, and Iran’s leaders have continually denied wanting these weapons. Nuclear weapons experts estimate that if Iran were to pursue nuclear weapons, it is at least five years and more likely ten years from having nuclear weapons. This provides time for negotiation to ensure that Iran pursues a peaceful nuclear energy program, one that the U.S. strongly supported when the Shah ruled Iran.

Bush is not relying solely on the fear of weapons of mass destruction. In his recent ‘surge’ speech, Bush said:

"Succeeding in Iraq also requires defending its territorial integrity – and stabilizing the region in the face of the extremist challenge. This begins with addressing Iran and Syria. These two regimes are allowing terrorists and insurgents to use their territory to move in and out of Iraq. Iran is providing material support for attacks on American troops. We will disrupt the attacks on our forces. We will interrupt the flow of support from Iran and Syria. And we will seek out and destroy the networks providing advanced weaponry and training to our enemies in Iraq."

This claim of Iranian support to the Iraqi resistance would be laughable if it did not have such potentially disastrous consequences. The major resistance to U.S. forces in Iraq has come from the Sunnis and Shi’ite Iran is not about to arm them. Re the possible consequences, Republican Senator Chuck Hagel told Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice during a Foreign Relations Committee hearing on January 11th that he considered Bush’s strategy, particularly his new threats against Syria and Iran, to be "the most dangerous foreign policy blunder in this country since Vietnam – if it’s carried out."

What is the motivation for attacking Iran? Perhaps it is tied to Iranian humiliation of the U.S. during the hostage crisis in 1979/80. Or it could be tied to oil in some way. Scott Ritter, the U.S. marine and former weapons inspector in Iraq, has a different take. Ritter writes:

"Let there be no doubt: If there is an American war with Iran, it is a war that was made in Israel." Ritter adds: "The Bush administration, with the able help of the Israeli government and the pro-Israel Lobby, has succeeded," Ritter writes, "in exploiting the ignorance of the American people about nuclear technology and nuclear weapons so as to engender enough fear that the American public has more or less been pre-programmed to accept the notion of the need to militarily confront a nuclear armed Iran."

Israel has certainly made its desire for an attack known. For example, in the April 13, 2003 isssue of the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, Aluf Benn reported on an upcoming visit to the U.S. by officials in the Sharon regime: "Israel will suggest that the United States also take care of Iran and Syria because of their support for terror and pursuit of weapons of mass destruction." And according to a recent column by Charley Reese on, on Jan. 2nd, Israeli Brig.Gen. Oded Tira (retired) called for  an all-out effort by Israel and its lobby to push a U.S. attack on Iran. Is  Ritter’s above statement correct? I don’t know. It is hard to know all the factors that drive Bush’s decision, but pressure from Israel is likely to play a role.

Regardless of the reason, we must not swallow the lies from the same groups that pushed the attack on Iraq — the mainstream media, the neo-cons and their supporters, and the Bush administration itself. They have zero credibility. If we love our country, we will stand up for its interests. We will support international law. We will loudly say no to another unnecessary and illegal attack. We will demand that there are no more war crimes committed in our name. It is up to us to stop this insanity of unwarranted
aggression with Iran as the next target.

-Ron Forthofer ran for Colorado 2nd  Congressional District in the Nov 2000 election.

(The Palestine Chronicle is a registered 501(c)3 organization, thus, all donations are tax deductible.)
Our Vision For Liberation: Engaged Palestinian Leaders & Intellectuals Speak Out