End the Myth of "Preemption"

The Bush administration has just released their National Security Strategy document which re-affirms the U.S. policy of so-called "preemption." The document actually states that "no country should ever use preemption as a pretext for aggression."

But that is exactly what the Bush administration did.

Claiming that an action is "preemptive" presumes that there's something to preempt. Of course, there were no Iraqi WMDs. There was no imminent attack. There was nothing to preempt. But the use by many, not only in the Bush administration, but also alleged critics of it, of such a term assists in the war plans.

James Bamford titled his book "A Pretext for War," which is a rather good term. A "pretext war" is waged on alleged motives which have no relation to the actual motives for war.

Some use the term "preventive" war rather than "preemptive" war, since one might argue that the U.S. is out to prevent the emergence of something that might one day be a threat. But this too is dubious given the circumstances. What we are talking about with the U.S. government in Iraq is exactly what the Bush administration is trying to deny: aggressive war. With Iran or Syria we are talking about the threat of the use of aggressive war.

The Nuremberg Tribunal, when prosecuting Nazi war criminals called the waging of aggressive war "essentially an evil thing ... to initiate a war of aggression ... 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."

I raised this issue of the term "preemptive" with some "anti-war leaders" before the war -- and got dazed looks in return.

Three years after the invasion of Iraq, with all the rationales for war debunked, many alleged critics of Bush are still referring to the war as "preemptive."

The administration understands the terms and how to twist them to suit its purposes. Those who claim to oppose those purposes should understand the terms and use them properly if they really want positive change.

This is an aggressive war.

[originally published at husseini.org on March 16, 2006]


This movie, much lauded by U.S. liberals, which purports to explain the dynamics of the contemporary Mideast, makes no mention of Israel.

[originally published at husseini.org on March 6, 2006]


Bush seems to recognize profiling -- when the alleged victim has $1 billion in their pocket. "Security hawks" find flaws with "government secrecy." "Free traders" go domestic. God willing, all the hypocrites will be reduced to the dust bin of history; but preserved there in intricate detail.

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 22, 2006]

Pick Your Global Protests

Three years ago, on February 15, 2003, shortly before the invasion of Iraq, there were quasi-global peace protests.

The streets of New York City, London, Rome, Madrid, Johannesburg, Hong Kong and many other places were filled with people protesting against the then-impending invasion of Iraq.

It's a shame that those protests didn't happen earlier -- imagine if they happened before Congress gave its dubious "authorization" for war in October 2002, for example. It's conceivable at least that Bush would have had a harder time launching the invasion.

But it is more regretful that these protests have not grown; have not continued to include more of the globe and have not become deeper in nature. Quite the contrary, they have atrophied. Over a month ago I was on a program on Pacifica station WBAI's appropriately-named program "Wake Up Call" in New York with leaders from various groups: United for Peace and Justice, International Answer and International Action Center. I challenged them on their non-follow-up on global protests. They all ignored the point. [Listen at the Wake Up Call archive blog.]

In the last few weeks we have seen very different quasi-global protests in various Arab and Muslim countries sparked by the insulting depictions of Muhammad.

I don't think the two events are un-related. The "peace movement" in the U.S. has not meaningfully reached out to the rest of the world, most notably people in Arab and Muslim countries -- even as it criticizes Bush for his "unilateralism". Where are the regular global protests? Where are the global sister cities projects? Where are the internet chat rooms where people can cross cultures and learn about others' perspectives and organize for a more just world?

Why has the peace movement not built these structures? I suspect that it is because building a new just world from the ground up would first, require alot of work that goes beyond rhetorical denunciations of Bush; but it would also open the door to what I said: a new just world. That is, the global inequalities which currently exist would have to be addressed and ultimately eliminated. However much they are opposed to Bush, many in the U.S. I think must feel threatened by such a possibility. Working with others requires working with people raised in other cultures; that can be enrolling, it can also be uncomfortable and threatening.

So there are no global protests every month expressing solidarity and demanding justice. Instead, there are protests of the sort we are now seeing: a wounded and insulted people lashing out in an unproductive fashion.

So, we need to pick our protests. If people in places of privilege who say they want change really want to establish methods by which we can all interact with mutual respect and justice; then we need to have the courage to change and build a global peace and justice movement from the ground up. If we don't really want that, we'll do nothing substantial; gripe at Bush (and pro-war Dems for that matter) and then watch as other protests develop and gradually engulf the world.

Pick your protests. Pick your world.

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 15, 2006]

A Political Confessional

As I understand it, one is not supposed to edit their own Wikipedia entry. Today I violated that rule by editing -- starting, really -- the entry on me, which was just a stub. The rub is I crited me:

Criticisms of Husseini

Husseini wrote the article "Follow the Policy: Why So Long for Iraq to Comply?" shortly before the invasion of Iraq. The piece purported to explain why Iraq hadn't complied with the United Nations disarmament demands. It ignored the possibility that Iraq had actually complied. This was the case even though Husseini in other instances had questioned the U.S. government claim that Iraq had not complied.

It felt good, but I of course reserve the right to respond to these allegations.

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 13, 2006]

What Would Muhammad Do?

People being bombed, occupied and oppressed. Would the Prophet Muhammad -- if peace is to be upon him -- do what some of his alleged followers are doing? Would he be upset at how he is depicted -- or how the poor and oppressed are treated? Is peace to come to him with some people, in his name, acting as they do?

And so, people in "the West" can pretend that it's cartoons that Muslims are upset about; not bombings and occupations and oppression.

This global non-dialogue must end. True civilization must begin. 

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 7, 2006]

Post SotU - My Day Job Goes All Night

My work at "double you double you double you dot a sea see you are a see why dot oh are gee" has led to this one-page PDF crit of the State of the Union Address. If people can get photocopies made, and have the guts and love to share information with other people they see in the course of a day, we have the tools to build an information infrastructure to foster democracy at the local level. Let the blogosphere hit the grassroots. Samizdat away!

[originally published at husseini.org on Feb. 2, 2006]

To Effectively Challenge Bush, Democrats Need New Leadership

On Monday Al Gore gave a speech on the NSA spying and other issues filled with accurate accusations about the Bush administration. On Tuesday, this was defused by the White House pointing to the "hypocrisy" of someone from the Clinton-Gore administration, which had a very poor record on civil liberties, being a spokesperson on the issue. There was actually some substance to the charge, though the Bush administration hardly has standing on the issue.

The same pattern has been apparent on Iraq. Whenever the Bush administration has been cornered, for example on its lies about non-existent Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, it has pointed to the Clinton administration and present-day Democratic leadership having made similar statements. Therefore the record and prominence of these Democrats is defacto helping the Bush administration continue its policies.

The Democrats are being led by people who voted to authorize the unconstitutional war -- such as Harry Reid and Hillary Clinton; and people who made warrentless claims of Iraqi weapons of mass destruction such as Nancy Pelosi and Howard Dean, who have failed to even indicate repentance about their statements when given the opportunity to do so.

Republicans, when targeting a Democratic president have ditched their leadership to achieve their goal. In December 1998, as Clinton was facing the prospect of impeachment, Republican Bob Livingston was about to replace Newt Gingrich as Speaker of the House. It was then revealed that Livingston had had affairs. On December 17, 1998, Livingston admitted to having affairs, but said he would not relinquish becoming House Speaker. Two days later, he resigned and the impeachment of Clinton proceeded. Notable, the Clinton administration appealed to Livingston to stay on.

There are Democrats who stood up to Bush before the war in one manner or another and have continued to so. The most obvious are Jim McDermott, who in 2002 said Bush was lying about Iraq, when it was manifestly unfashionable to do; Barbara Lee, who voted against one of the initial 9-11 presidential powers resolutions; Cynthia McKinney, who lost her seat in 2002 for her questioning of the administration and Dennis Kucinich who, among other things, held a series of hearings during the buildup to the Iraq invasion about the Bush administration's disinformation (I was a panelist at one of the hearings). I'm sure there are others.

If the Democratic Party wants to be a serious entity, the people who have been manifestly complicit with the Bush administration plans for war and unconstitutional actions -- or who claim to be so naive that they believed Bush's rhetoric -- need to step aside; and people who scrutinized Bush and have continued to do so need to become the leadership. If it wants to enable more of the Bush administration's policies, it will continue on its current track.

[originally published at husseini.org on Jan. 19, 2006]

Beyond Vietnam and Iraq: Martin Luther King and the Deeper Malady

I can't count the number of times someone has told me that the antiwar movement is going great because it's so far ahead of "where we were in Vietnam." That is, the notion that we should compare the timeline of US intervention in Vietnam and that of Iraq.

It's a thought designed to make one feel good, to say that there is progress when a closer examination would indicate otherwise. A big problem with this line of reasoning is that it implies that the U.S. government attack on Iraq began in 2003. Of course it didn't; you had the U.S. bombing of the infrastructure of Iraq and imposition of sanctions in 1990-91. The sanctions were maintained throughout the first Bush administration, through two Clinton administration terms and remained virtually invisible through 9-11. But somehow activists in the U.S. are supposed to be happy with how much better we're doing than "during Vietnam."

The self-congratulations is also dubious when bearing in mind these words of Martin Luther King Jr. in his "Beyond Vietnam" speech:

"The war in Vietnam is but a symptom of a far deeper malady within the American spirit, and if we ignore this sobering reality...and if we ignore this sobering reality, we will find ourselves organizing 'clergy and laymen concerned' committees for the next generation. They will be concerned about Guatemala and Peru. They will be concerned about Thailand and Cambodia. They will be concerned about Mozambique and South Africa. We will be marching for these and a dozen other names and attending rallies without end, unless there is a significant and profound change in American life and policy. And so, such thoughts take us beyond Vietnam, but not beyond our calling as sons of the living God."

The sad fact is that the Vietnam War happened, and seemed to end, but that there was no serious addressing of the deeper malady; it festers and grows and is even invisible as we pretend to congratulate ourselves.

[originally published at husseini.org on Jan. 16, 2006]

Pre-script of Bush's Oval Office Address Tonight: "Please Forgive Me"

Oval Office, the White House

9:01 P.M. EST, Dec. 18, 2005

My fellow citizens -- and fellow citizens of the world -- tonight I want to speak to you from my heart about the war in Iraq and the direction of my presidency.

The last time I spoke to you from this room, I told you that I had ordered the invasion of Iraq. I said it was about disarmament; it wasn't. I said I was doing it for your security; I wasn't. I said we had no designs on Iraq and simply wanted freedom for the Iraqi people; that was false. I also told you I attempted to avoid war -- that was perhaps the biggest lie.

The situation in Iraq is dire. We have cynically played factions off against each other. Our troops are killing Iraqis on a regular basis, terrorists which now operate in Iraq are killing innocents wantonly. The way we conducted ourselves has inflamed the most fanatic elements in the region. Apparently one of those groups has abducted members of the Christian Peacemaker Teams and now threatens to kill them.

My administration methodically drove toward an illegal war. We did this for our vanity, because the institutions which support us wanted it that way and those that claim they were opposed to that course didn't do what was needed to stop us. We've lied at virtually every turn before the invasion and we've lied since to keep up the rationale and to position ourselves to dominate the region. We have used the rhetoric of democracy, as with the recent vote in Iraq, to mask our true intentions and give Iraq a veneer of democracy and sovereignty while we have laid our plans for domination as we build 14 permanent military bases there. I want to let go of those plans and help in whatever way I can to ensure authentic democracy in Iraq -- and around the world. Our current course is fueling resentment and it is only a matter of time when the U.S. will be attacked in a manner even worse than 9-11.

Many did criticize my policies, but in the cocoon that is this office, all I heard were partisan and personal attacks, and all that did was harden my heart even more. The Democrats who engaged in similar deceptions about Iraqi WMDs in the Clinton administration and in today's Congress made all I did easier, not harder.

It was my recently learning of the work of the Christian Peacemaker Teams and the members now held hostage in Iraq that set me on a journey. I privately found out about their work after they were abducted. Their web page asks "What would happen if Christians devoted the same discipline and self-sacrifice to nonviolent peacemaking that armies devote to war?" People proclaiming any faith or ethical structure can ask themselves such questions.

And these people have made an effort to do that. They have bravely gone to Iraqi neighborhoods, knowing full well that -- largely because of our governmental policies -- they may be resented and be in grave danger. They have lovingly talked and broken bread with Iraqis. More than talked, they documented the testimony of Iraqis about the torture going on in the prisons we run there. They did this even before many of you saw the horrible pictures from Abu Ghraib.

The group Swords of Righteousness says it will kill these good people unless all prisoners are released from Guantanamo and from Iraqi prisons. I cannot do that, but I can now say that all Guantanamo detainees will quickly either have charges put up against them and be tried in a constitutional manner -- or they will be freed; the same for all prisoners in Iraq.

If you are truly Swords of Righousness, and your criminal act was misdirected but your intentions just, you will now release the members of the Christian Peacemaker Team -- Tom Fox, Harmeet Sooden, Norman Kember, and James Loney. Upon their release, given the work that they have selflessly done, I fully expect that it is they who will be greeted with flowers and sweets in the streets of Baghdad. They will certainly be greeted with warmth and love here whenever they decide to visit me.

I am ordering our military command to withdraw all troops from Iraq within six months. This will include military contractors and will be done in an orderly manner. I request international peacekeepers from other nations with no major interests in Iraq to help the Iraqi people whom we have so damaged. I pray the families of those Iraqis killed -- and the number of such people likely far exceeds the 30,000 I claimed recently -- will forgive me for what I have done, and will now embrace what I am doing. We will pay compensation as a small token of our regret to the Iraqis killed in this war we have started. [Bush weeps, but continues with the address.]

I pray that the families of the soldiers who bravely went to fight a war they thought was just will please forgive me. I will attend as many funerals of U.S. service people as I possibly can and will do whatever I can to help put together shattered lives. I hope my actions will bring near the day when I can be accepted in Iraq so I can visit with Iraqis who have lost loved ones as a result of my actions and apologize in person. [Bush wipes his tears.]

My taking this course should not have rested on my spiritual journey; Congress should have stopped me from violating the Constitution and its War Powers clause; it did not. The United Nations should have stopped our nation from violating the UN Charter; it did not. The major media outlets should have exposed our lies; instead they amplified them. And you, the public at large, should have arisen in revulsion in a sustained manner. You did not. We must all change radically.

I believe that I have committed crimes; but I do now have sovereign immunity. I will now use that to redress wrongs I have done. I fully accept responsibility for what I have done and will accept the ruling of a legitimate legal authority when my term as president ends.

The best way to stop the insurgency now is to speak the truth and to listen, to change our policies when they are unjust, and they have been unjust long before 9-11, and to lovingly criticize others in legitimate ways. And that is what I am doing. Up until now, I have used fear to bully people into going along with war for illegitimate goals.

I am asking for the resignations of Vice President Cheney and of my entire cabinet; none of them expected to hear this speech tonight. I wish them the best, but I believe I need a new cabinet to do what we must do. Many people who are unwilling to grow, embrace and change will likely viciously attack what I am saying tonight; this does not mean I don't welcome criticism. But I know how it works, it's when a person or group stands for what is right that illegitimate power strikes against them; indeed I know all too well how it works.

To those of you who have been right, and have criticized me for reasons of principle: I ask for your forgiveness and hope you will now work with me to truly build a better world. To those of you who have been wrong as I have been wrong: I ask that you now change and grow with me. To those of you who have backed Bin Ladin and his crimes: I ask that you now also radically change as we together overcome our worst demons and embrace each others' -- and everyones' -- humanity.

Goodnight and may God bless all Humanity.

9:12 P.M. EST

This text was pre-scribed by Sam Husseini.

[originally published at husseini.org on Dec. 18, 2005]