From the department of Newspeak
OK. See if you can follow me here: The United States is concerned that Saddam Hussein could launch a first strike against the troops in the region — or Israel — once Bush signals that war is imminent, so the United States may have to strike first. But officials are concerned that if America strikes first, it will appear the _United States has started a war._
Did I wake up in some weird alternate universe or something? After months of massing troops, threatening Iraq, bullying the United Nations, admitting that Saddam has not attacked the United States nor was it involved in Sept. 11, 2001, _now_ officials are worried they might look like they’re starting a war?
I thought Iraq was part of President Bush’s doctrine of “preÃ«mptive self-defense,” which sounds an awful lot like “best defense is a good offense.” Which means, by definition, that starting a war is _kind of the whole point._
Most likely, this is some bonehead official talking smack to an ABC reporter. But it does highlight the problems facing the United States: namely, that this is a war of choice, not necessity. And that if it’s prosecuted without the aegis of the United Nations Security Council, it will be an aggressive war, which is _highly_ illegal under the U.N. charter.
The irony of all this is that if the United States doesn’t have a resolution, Iraq would be perfectly justified in attacking first, both under the logic of the Bush Doctrine and Article 51 of the the U.N. charter, which states, “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security.” (George over at Warblogging has a nice take on this.)
This is just getting twistier by the moment. And now that war is looming ever closer, America is twisting Iraq’s legitimate right to self-defense to justify a first strike. I love America, I really do, but this is going beyond all reasonable standards for how a democratic country founded on some of humanity’s best ideals is supposed to act. To say the rhetoric coming from Washington is Orwellian is now to understate the case rather than blow it up into hyperbole. There seems to be no attempt to hide the propaganda, indicating a supreme contempt for the discerning facilities of the American people and other peoples of the world.
Meanwhile, Bush, Blair and Aznar are meeting in the Azores (say that three times fast) to work out some last minute diplomacy. This is interesting since it means Bush will have to get off the phone and actually spend some face time with his buddies. But wouldn’t it be better to have some face-time with countries like Freedom (neé France) and Russia who don’t support him? Back in 1990, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker was ubiquitous and the coalition was a big success. When was the last time Colin Powell went out of the country? Bush? I know it’s not a good time to fly, but still…
By not inviting representatives from France, etc., this loos like a war council aimed at getting a successful UNSC vote instead of a summit looking for common ground and a compromise out of the diplomatic marshlands. But this is just more down-the-rabbit-hole insanity, with U.S. foreign policy used to make possible a war on Iraq. Clausewitz once said, “War is regarded as nothing but the continuation of state policy with other means.” But as I said once before, this war is no longer a tool for state policy, but instead state policy has become a tool for war.
No Love Boat
In other news, the marriage between the media and the military is looking as rocky as Rick Rockwell and Darva Conger’s from Fox’s “Who Wants to Marry a Millionaire?” At least on the USS Abraham Lincoln. The “embedded” journalists on the Lincoln are monitored, minded and accompanied by escorts everywhere they go. Once, when mistakenly wandering into a meeting, two cameramen were confronted by armed guards.
Now, I know there are restrictions in war time; journalists need to understand that. And most of the time friction between reporters and the military is caused by misunderstandings rather than hostility. But I was pretty sure the Pentagon’s new policy for embedding journalists with the troops was a propaganda ploy, and if the events on the _Abraham Lincoln_ are indicative of how the press will be treated, I’m not confident this war will as aggressively covered as people think it will be.