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Just War

John Simkin

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All the world over, people got to be free.

This phrase is meaningless. I don’t think it is a good idea to base your political philosophy on the words of a pop song.

Did the allied forces encourage the participation of all factions and religious groups in the election; and did the allied forces encourage groups that had been fighting each other for years to form a coalition government (granted it remains to be seen whether it wll work); did the allied forces encourage and do their best to maintain a fair election?

As you probably know, the vast majority of people in Iraq voted for candidates who are demanding the immediate withdrawal of US troops. However, the Iraqi government do not have the freedom to do that. It is not a democracy when the government can only take decisions that are approved by the occupation forces.

You still have not explained why Bush is so selective about the countries he decides to invade and introduce “democracy”. Why does he pour financial aid into Uzbekistan rather than remove a dictator who tortures and kills his political opponents? You might want to fool yourself that Bush is on some moral crusade to introduce democracy but no one outside of America believes it (although a few corrupt political leaders in Europe are willing to pretend that they do).

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According to the Today Program this morning they are preparing to privatise Iraq's Oil industry so clearly a just war to make Iraq safe for democracy ....and Shell and Esso.

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The chart published in the June 3, 2005 New York Times (see link below) shows both the increasing number of insurgent attacks and casualties in Iraq, but also the growing improvements in Iraq. I will list some of the progress below.


Percentage of public believing country is headed in right direction:

May 2003 65

June 2004 50

May 2005 65

Independent Newspapers and Magazines

May 2003 8

June 2004 150

May 2005 170

Trained Iraqui Judges

May 2003 0

June 2004 175

May 2005 351

Trained Iraqui Securiry Forces

May 2003 0

June 2004 0

May 2005 50,000

Telephone Users

May 2003 800,000

June 2004 1,200,000

May 2005 3,300,000

Internet Subscribers

May 2003 1,000

June 2004 59,000

May 2005 160,000

John and Andy in particular should like the last statistic. Much progress needs to be made here, however. I assume in most industrialized nations the percentage of internet use to telephone users is higher than 4%. John or Andy do you have any statistics re this?

The generalization to be made is that definite verifiable progress is being toward liberal democracy (eg independent papers) and civilization but the insurgents are also on the increase. Obviously the objective of the insurgents is to defeat the democrats. All members of this Forum ought to be rooting for the democrats!

Edited by Tim Gratz
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The number of independent newspapers and magazines is not 170, that figure is an exaggeration. The actual figure is 0. By law news outlets in Iraq are instructed on what they can and cannot say about the Iraqi resistance by the Higher Media Commission. In fact they are forbidden to use the word "resistance". The restrictions on press freedom are among the greatest in the world. It makes you wonder about the rest of the statistics

Ibrahim Janabi, a former Iraqi intelligence agenc and longtime Allawi ally, is the head of the Higher Media Commission. He has never worked as a journalist. The media committee which, for example banned news outlets from repeating criticisms of Iayd Allawi is located in the same building that housed Iraq's old information ministry which controlled media outlets under Saddam Hussein.

Independent Newspapers and Magazines

    May 2003    8

    June 2004  150

    May 2005    170

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From Sunday's New York Times:

June 19, 2005

Iraqis Found in Torture House Tell of Brutality of Insurgents


KARABILA, Iraq, Sunday, June 19 - Marines on an operation to eliminate insurgents that began Friday broke through the outside wall of a building in this small rural village to find a torture center equipped with electric wires, a noose, handcuffs, a 574-page jihad manual - and four beaten and shackled Iraqis.

The American military has found torture houses after invading towns heavily populated by insurgents - like Falluja, where the anti-insurgent assault last fall uncovered almost 20 such sites. But rarely have they come across victims who have lived to tell the tale.

The men said they told the marines, from Company K, Third Marines, Second Division, that they had been tortured with shocks and flogged with a strip of rubber for more than two weeks, unseen behind the windows of black glass. One of them, Ahmed Isa Fathil, 19, a former member of the new Iraqi Army, said he had been held and tortured there for 22 days. All the while, he said, his face was almost entirely taped over and his hands were cuffed.

In an interview with an embedded reporter just hours after he was freed, he said he had never seen the faces of his captors, who occasionally whispered at him, "We will kill you." He said they did not question him, and he did not know what they wanted. Nor did he ever expect to be released.

"They kill somebody every day," said Mr. Fathil, whose hands were so swollen he could not open a can of Coke offered to him by a marine. "They've killed a lot of people."

From the house on Saturday, there could be heard sounds of fighting from the large-scale offensive to eliminate strongholds of insurgents, many of whom stream across Iraq's porous border with Syria. [Page 10.]

As the marines walked through the house - a squat one-story building of sand-colored brick - the broken black window glass crunched under their boots. Light poured in, revealing walls and ceiling shredded by shrapnel from the blast they had set off to break in through a wall. Latex gloves were strewn on the floor. A kerosene lantern lay on its side, shattered.

The manual recovered - a fat, well-thumbed Arabic paperback - listed itself as the 2005 First Edition of "The Principles of Jihadist Philosophy," by Abdel Rahman al-Ali. Its chapters included "How to Select the Best Hostage," and "The Legitimacy of Cutting the Infidels' Heads."

Also recovered were several fake passports, a black hood, the painkiller Percoset, handcuffs and an explosives how-to-guide. Three cars loaded with explosives were parked in a garage outside the house. The marines blew them up.

This is Mr. Fathil's account of his ordeal.

He was having a lunch of lettuce and cucumbers in the kitchen of his home in the small desert village of Rabot with his mother and brother. An Opel sedan pulled up. Two men in masks carrying machine guns got out, seized him, and, leaving his mother sobbing, put him in the trunk of their car.

The drove to the house here. They taped his face, put cotton in his ears, and began to beat him.

The only possible explanation for the seizure he could think of was his time in the new Iraqi Army. Unemployed and illiterate, Mr. Fathil signed up after the American occupation began.

But nine months ago, when continuing working meant risking the wrath of the Jihadists, he quit. In all, 10 friends from his unit have been killed, he said. So have his uncle and his uncle's son, though neither ever worked as soldiers.

The men tended to talk in whispers, he said, telling him five times a day, in low voices in his ear, to pray, and offering him sand, instead of water, to wash himself. Just once, he asked if he could see his mother, and one of them said to him, "You won't leave until you are dead."

Mr. Fathil did not know there were other hostages. He found out only after the captors left and he was able to remove the tape from his eyes.

The routine in the house was regular. Because of the windows, it was always dark inside. Mr. Fathil said he was fed once a day, and allowed to use a bathroom as necessary in the back of the house.

When marines burst in, one of the captives was lying under a stairwell, badly beaten. At first, they thought he was dead.

The others were emaciated and battered. Mr. Fathil had fared the best. The other three were taken by medical helicopter to Balad, a base near Baghdad with a hospital.

But he still had been hurt badly. Marks from beatings criss-crossed his back, and deep pocks, apparently from electric shock burns, were gouged in his skin.

The shocks, he said, felt "like my soul is being ripped out of my body." But when he would start to scream, and his body would pull up from the shock, they would begin to beat him, he said.

Mr. Fathil has been at the Marine base south of Qaim since his release, on Saturday around noon. His mother still does not know he is alive.

When she was mentioned, he bowed and lowered his head, and began to cry softly, wiping his face with the jumpsuit given him by the marines.

He asked a reporter for help to move to another town, because it was too dangerous for his family to remain in their house. He begged not to have a photograph taken, even of the scars on his back. The captors took pictures of that, he said.

His town has always been a good place, he said, but the militants have made it hell.

"These few are destroying it," he said, his face streaked with tears. "Everybody they take, they kill. It's on a daily basis pretty much."

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First, your stated policy concerning using military force if necessary to disarm Saddam Hussein and his weapons of mass destruction is a just cause. In just war theory only defensive war is defensible; and if military force is used against Saddam Hussein it will be because he has attacked his neighbors, used weapons of mass destruction against his own people, and harbored terrorists from the Al Qaeda terrorist network that attacked our nation so viciously and violently on September 11, 2001.

Nope. The WMD threat was a potential threat that was contained. Had a real intelligence assessment been launched, meticulously and carefully, this should have been revealed or at least strongly intimated.

This is too much of a stretch to make a case for defensive war. Saddam Hussein was a brutal dictator who opposed instead of support religious fundamentalism. Saddam Hussein clung to his bluster to impress his people with his power. His goal was to die the dictator of Iraq. Launching any attacks against the United States would have only guaranteed his removal from power.

Second, just war must have just intent. Our nation does not intend to destroy, conquer, or exploit Iraq.

I agree that our nation largely did not intend to destroy and conquer Iraq. I further partially agree that our privatized civilian occupiers did not intend to exploit Iraq too much beyond expecting to receive high prfits from the war. Unfortunately the capitalist zeal for profits for American companies did not place enough emphasis on

Third, just war may only be commenced as a last resort.

Here is something I agree with entirely. Also, when one considers what a last resort is and truly thinks about it, the United States had a truckload of "resorts" left in March 2003. So this was not a just war based on this criteria.

Fourth, just war requires authorization by legitimate authority. We believe it was wise and prudent for you to go before the U.N. General Assembly and ask the U.N. Security Council to enforce its own resolutions.

I disagree with this. If a war is just it is just. That is its own legitimate authority. Additionally, the UN vote was not the same thing as a UN declaration of war. We failed to piece together any meanignful coalition a la the Gulf War and we have paid the price for it.

Fifth, just war requires limited goals and the resort to armed force must have a reasonable expectation of success.

Um, do you mean trying to bring not just peace but democracy to the Middle East not inspired by liberal reform but imposed through imperial-style diplomtic-military pressure. Is this what is meant by a negative example of limited means and a reasonable expectation of success?

Sixth, just war theory requires noncombatant immunity.

Okay. But shouldn't some type of due process be introduced to those detained by the US military to determine whether there is harassment of non-combatants are legal detention of combatants?

Seventh, just war theory requires the question of proportionality be addressed. Will the human cost of the armed conflict to both sides be proportionate to the stated objectives and goals?

How much is enough. Great Britain lost 2K lives the first time around in this quagmire, will that be the US's number or should we count on four thousand?

My biggest concern is that democracy, the new and improved goal of the war, does not have a strong history in nations that are not fully industrialized, and our reconstruction, unlike in Germany and Japan, has not focused on developing an industrial economy.

Sincerely Yours, . . .

Dr. Chuck Colson  :)  :D

Prison Ministries after corrupting the government and now you can accuse Felt of violating his responsibilities. Dr. Colson you have big, amoral, brass ones.

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You know, one of my favorite songs from the Sixties perhaps best illustrates the point.

By "The Young Rascals":

All the world over, people got to be free.

You see, John, I agree with Tom Jefferson, that ALL men, and that includes women, and it includes Iraquis, are endowed by their Creator with certain rights that OUGHT NOT be taken away from them by ANY government or theocracy!

And that's what "The Young Rascals" meant!

Hi Tim

Well that is all very noble isn't it?

Although born in Great Britain, I am now a United States citizen and a concerned voter. I think, Tim, you need to consider the effects of the Iraq war on this nation, and not just consider the long-shot that democracy might be able to be established in Iraq, an eventuality that must, after all, be left to the Iraqis.

Look at the current situation. The United States is stuck in a quagmire in Iraq. American forces are stretched, at the breaking point, not in a position to protect this country or to prevent violence in Iraq and elsewhere in the world. The toll of dead and wounded among American and coalition ground forces in Iraq continues to grow, as it does at a much higher rate among Iraqi civilians.

The insurgency is evil but the US is not able to prevent it, in fact US presence in Iraq is just fueling the insurgency by drawing in foreign fighters and financial support under the pretence of jihad -- if the US withdrew that impetus likely would be weakened.

Meanwhile, the cost of the Iraq venture is $230 billion and climbing. No wonder even Republican senators and representatives are now calling for withdrawal.

Best regards

Chris George

Edited by Christopher T. George
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If so keen on democracy in Iraq, it is hard to explain the US government's support for a military coup against Chavez in Venezuela.

"They've got to be protected

All their rights respected

Till somebody we like can be elected."

(Tom Lehrer - "Send the Marines")

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I would encourage you to consider the opinions represented on this web-site:



Hi Tim

I am sorry if I came across as harsh yesterday. Yes, of course, the promotion of democracy is a noble pursuit and the ideal of democracy is to be cherished. However, as I stated in my last post, can the United States realistically achieve democracy for Iraq? You and I both know it is up to the Iraqis ultimately to do it for themselves. And the URL you posted, "Untold Iraq" eloquently tells of the hopes of Iraqis.

We both know as well that the United States cannot be forever committed to shoring up the present Iraqi government. Unfortunately I don't think past historical precedents look hopeful. I am thinking of Russia with the weak provisional government after the fall of the Tsar and the Weimar republic after WWI, and how both gave way to a strong man.

Iraq looks to either be on that path or on the way, perhaps, to breaking up into sectarian territories perhaps after a civil war... and where then will Mr Bush's noble experiment be after the U.S. lives and resources have been squandered in getting this nation into a situation that leveler heads than Wolfowitz and Rumsfeld might have predicted would deteriorate as it has? And again, Tim, I think we need to look at what Iraq has done to this nation not just at Iraq. We will be paying for this neo-Con adventure for years to come.

Best regards


Edited by Christopher T. George
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This is a tale of one war, two anniversaries, three different demonstrations - and inconsistencies, contradictions and civilian deaths that are too numerous to count.

On April 18 2003, tens of thousands of Sunni and Shia protesters took to the streets of Baghdad to call for the Americans to leave Iraq. "You are the masters today," Ahmed al-Kubeisy, the prayer leader, told the Americans as he addressed the men emerging from Friday prayers. "But I warn you against thinking of staying. Get out before we kick you out."

Two years later, the US is still there. The anti-American protest was hailed in the White House as a vindication for the US strategy of bombing and then occupying the country. "In Iraq, there's discussion, debate, protest - all the hallmarks of liberty," said President George Bush that week. "The path to freedom may not always be neat and orderly, but it is the right of every person and every nation."

On February 22 2005, tens of thousands of Lebanese protesters took to the streets of Beirut to call for the Syrians to leave the country. Within a week the Syrians announced indefinite plans to leave. Front covers of magazines carried pictures of pretty young Lebanese women waving flags (at last, some Arabs editors could fancy) proclaiming a "cedar revolution" and "people power". The protest was hailed in the White House as a vindication for the US strategy of bombing and occupying Iraq. "By now it should be clear that authoritarian rule is not the wave of the future," said Bush. "We want that democracy in Lebanon to succeed, and we know it cannot succeed so long as she is occupied by a foreign power."

On March 8 2005, 500,000 pro-Syrian protesters took to the streets of Beirut to oppose US and European interference. The demonstration was backed by Hizbullah, which the US has branded a terrorist organisation. People carried banners saying "Death to America". It was several times bigger than the first anti-Syrian protest. They too waved Lebanese flags. But editors didn't find them pretty. They did not appear on the front pages of the news magazines. Their protest was not hailed in the White House. In fact, its existence was barely acknowledged.

"The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side," George Orwell once wrote. "He has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."

So it is on the second anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, where the occupying powers are still so desperate to create a moral framework to justify the war that embracing the irrelevant and ignoring the inconvenient has become the only viable strategy left to them.

We have entered a world where reality - like the photographs of torture or the absence of weapons of mass destruction - is just a minor blockage in a flood of official, upbeat declarations and statements. Each new dispatch from the departments of irony on both sides of the Atlantic suggests that truth can be created by assertion, principle can be established by deception and democracy can be imposed through aggression. These people would claim credit for the good weather and deny responsibility for their own signature if they thought they could get away with it.

Two years on, the death toll keeps rising, the size of the "coalition" keeps shrinking and global public support for this reckless occupation has maintained its downward spiral from a low base. Indeed, the only thing that changes is the rationale for starting the war, where the sophistry of the occupying powers keeps plumbing new depths and selective amnesia has attained new highs.

We are supposed to believe that there is no link between the American shooting of an Italian intelligence agent on a rescue mission and Rome's decision to withdraw its troops 10 days later. "I don't see a connection there," says the White House spokesman, Scott McClellan. We are supposed to remember Saddam Hussein's gassing of the Kurds 17 years ago in graphic detail and forget everything that happened in Abu Ghraib 16 months ago.

"If our guys want to poke somebody in the chest to get the name of a bomb maker so they can save the lives of Americans, I'm for it," said Republican senator Jim Talent at a recent hearing on torture. How about ramming someone who does not have the name of a bomb maker in the anus with a truncheon, Mr Talent. Are you for that too?

Most recently, we have been told to believe that the limited and as yet untested moves towards democracy in Egypt and Saudi Arabia, the thawing in Palestinian-Israeli relations (largely the result of Yasser Arafat's death) and the proposed withdrawal of Syrian troops (prompted by an outcry over the assassination of former Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri) all justify the bombing.

As further proof they point to January's elections in Iraq. This was a vote that the Americans wanted to postpone, in which many people could not participate, that produced a victory for Islamists with close ties to Iran who want the US troops out as soon as possible. If all of this amounts to victory, I would hate to see what their idea of defeat looks like.

The truth is that you cannot even begin to make a justification for the war unless you take into account the lives of innocent Iraqis lost as a result of it. The simplest way to deal with that is to pretend that these deaths do not exist - the occupying powers simply do not count them. The only other defence is that their deaths are a price worth paying and that good things can come from bad acts - a claim every bit as offensive and wrong-headed as arguing that 9/11 was a price worth paying for waking America up to the consequences of its foreign policy.

But the Iraqis are not the only ones to have suffered these past two years. While the occupiers have been busy failing to export democracy abroad, they have been busy undermining it at home. All of them lied to their electorates about the reasons for going to war. With the exception of America, all of them went to war despite overwhelming opposition from the public. And through their anti-terrorist bills and patriot acts they have removed some of the most basic legal rights of their citizens and criminalised the most vulnerable.

The elections last year in Spain and recent events in Italy are encouraging. They show that while the anti-war movement failed to stop the war, it has maintained a sufficiently effective presence to make a crucial difference at key moments to disable and discredit it.

In the meantime, the department of irony will keep moulding its own version of reality until it is sufficiently warped to fit its own agenda. US troop withdrawal, said Bush last week, "would be done depending upon the ability of Iraqis to defend themselves". They are already defending themselves Mr Bush - from you.


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  • 3 weeks later...

Gary wrote:

This is a tale of one war, two anniversaries, three different demonstrations - and inconsistencies, contradictions and civilian deaths that are too numerous to count.

On April 18 2003, tens of thousands of Sunni and Shia protesters took to the streets of Baghdad to call for the Americans to leave Iraq. "You are the masters today," Ahmed al-Kubeisy, the prayer leader, told the Americans as he addressed the men emerging from Friday prayers. "But I warn you against thinking of staying. Get out before we kick you out."

Sorry, Gary, but MILLIONS of Iraquis voted in the election, and risked their lives to do so. Beats out even tens of thousands of demonstrators any day!

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Sorry, Gary, but MILLIONS of Iraquis voted in the election, and risked their lives to do so.  Beats out even tens of thousands of demonstrators any day!

Maybe they thought they were voting for a government that could kick out the Americans? However, the government does not have that power. That power is held by the American occupation forces. So much for democracy.

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John, now come on, none of the candidates campaigned on such a pledge, to my knowledge.

So why would you say that this explains why so many Iraquis voted in the election? It is simple common sense that most people would like to participate in the election of their leaders.

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The problem is that leftists often seem unwilling to fight for freedom.  You will cave in to terrorists.  Even if what is going on in Iraq now could have or should have been foreseen, it was still worthwhile to get rid of Hussein.  In my opinion, he and his sons should receive the same fate he imposed on thousands of his innocent countrymen.

You seem to be getting away from the Bible in your claims that the invasion of Iraq is a Just War. For your information, it is because of “leftists” that we have democracy in the Western World. Democracy was not fought for by those on the right. It was won by those on the “left”. At the time, those on the right were defending the system of privilege and elitism. This is of course what the right-wing do today. As you have admitted on the thread “Is America a Democracy” you are not a supporter of democracy. When I asked you why you wanted to impose something you did not believe in on Iraq you replied: “An interesting question.” You never gave me an answer. Did you try asking Karl Rove for an answer? Are you still waiting for your Republican Party handout?

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