Independent Christian Voice

Wednesday

Saddam = Bad Guy = War = Compassionate Humanitarianism?

I have been openly in opposition to the War in Iraq from its beginning. I was opposed to this invasion because there was too much question about the people trying to push us that direction. For anyone who has followed the development of the neo-cons "Project for a New American Century," it was no surprise that the players in the Bush administration were looking to attack Iraq long before the attacks on 9/11. They said they thought it was our key strategy back in 1998 in a letter to President Clinton. You don't have to take my word for it, they have the letters published on their own website. There is no way the American public was going to support a war for military and economic interests in the Middle East. Then came the attacks on 9/11 and a newly declared "War on Terrorism." Who was one of the greatest threats in the War on Terrorism? Saddam Hussein, of course. After all, he had used weapons of mass destruction before and was openly antagonistic to the U.S. Then, the American public is sold on the imminent threat we are facing from Saddam. Based on this imminent threat, we must defend ourselves by attacking preemptively. This was the rationale for the war on Iraq. Now, in hindsight, that rationale doesn't hold much water. Bad intelligence was to blame. Did this make the war unjustifiable? Not from a right wing perspective — after all, Saddam is a really bad guy who has done some really bad things. Since Saddam is bad, our preemptive attack on a soverign nation was "just" because we are simply trying to help the Iraqi people (stop the tortures, get the oppressed Iraqi women the right to vote, etc., etc.). These are all practical reasons but certainly the fundamental rationale clearly cited pre-invasion. My question is why? Why not list this as the primary reason or at least a significant reason to invade Iraq prior to invading? Why use it only after the other reasons have failed? The answer: it is a post-facto explanation of why the invasion was not completely wrong. As a matter of fact, it is the only justification that can be left. I will often have the question posed to me, what is so bad about bringing freedom to Iraq? Aren't the Iraqi's going to be better off down the line? I certainly hope so; they have paid a dear price to get it. The answer, of course, is that it is not a bad thing to bring freedom to oppressed people. But, it is time for the U.S. to take a good hard look at what we are committing ourselves to do. This is nation-building plain and simple — the very thing President Bush pledged not to do when campaigning for office the first time. There are a lot of oppresive regimes (by many measures, Saddam's was hardly the worst). We have spent over $200 billion and we are no where near the democratic freedoms in Iraq that would allow for troop withdrawl without unrest in the country. Parade Magazine offers a list of the 10 Worst Dictators — you can read the methodology they use to determine the list from their site. In 2003, Saddam was #3 on the list. We have a lot of work to do, a lot of lives to be lost and we better pony up some pretty big bucks because there are a lot of oppressed people who need our help. If it is just and right to do these things for the people of Iraq, it is just and right to do it for all these people as well.
1. Omar al-Bashir, Sudan. Age 61. In power since 1989. Last year’s rank: 7 A colossal humanitarian tragedy in western Sudan’s Darfur region has uprooted 2 million people and killed 70,000, mostly through the activities of government-supported militias. This is nothing new in Sudan, where Omar al-Bashir, its dictator, has engaged in ethnic and religious persecution since seizing power in a military coup. Sudan has 6 million internally displaced persons—more than any other nation. In southern Sudan, where Christianity and traditional religions are practiced, Bashir tried to impose Islamic law in a campaign that included aerial bombing of villages and enslavement of women and children. His forces met with armed resistance, escalating to what some called a civil war between Muslims and Christians. (In Darfur, meanwhile, he has been killing Muslims.) Last month, Bashir signed a cease-fire with rebels in the south. It allows government troops to remain in southern Sudan and prohibits southerners from voting for independence for six years. 2. Kim Jong Il, North Korea. Age 62. In power since 1994. Last year’s rank: 1 The Ministry of People’s Security places spies in workplaces and neighborhoods to inform on anyone who criticizes the regime, even at home. All radios and TV sets are fixed to receive only government stations. Disloyalty to Kim Jong Il and his late father, Kim Il Sung, is a punishable crime: Offenses include allowing pictures of either leader to gather dust or be torn or folded. The population is divided into “loyalty groups.” One-third belong to the “hostile class.” These people receive the worst jobs and housing and may not live in the capital, Pyongyang. Below the hostiles are the estimated 250,000 held in prison camps, some for crimes allegedly committed by relatives. Executions often are performed in public. 3. Than Shwe, Burma. Age 72. In power since 1992. Last year’s rank: 2 Freedom of expression is not allowed; unlicensed possession of a fax machine or modem is punishable by 15 years in prison. To relocate ethnic minorities, the army destroyed 3000 villages and drove 1.2 million Burmese from their homes. 4. Hu Jintao, China. Age 62. In power since 2002. Last year’s rank: 3 Some 250,000 Chinese are serving sentences in “re-education and labor camps.” China executes more people than all other nations combined, often for nonviolent crimes. The death penalty can be given for burglary, embezzlement, counterfeiting, bribery or killing a panda. Hu’s government controls all media and Internet use. Defense lawyers who argue too vigorously for clients’ rights may be disbarred or imprisoned. And if minorities (such as Tibetans) speak out for autonomy, they’re labeled “terrorists,” imprisoned and tortured. 5. Crown Prince Abdullah, Saudi Arabia. Age 81. In power since 1995. Last year’s rank: 5 Women may not vote or run for office, owing to “technical difficulties”: Most Saudi women don’t have the photo IDs needed to register; there aren’t enough female officials to register those who do; and men may not register women, because the sexes are forbidden to mingle in public. Worldwide, the royal family promotes an extreme form of Islam called Wahhabism, which considers all followers of other religions—even other Muslims—“infidels.” 6. Muammar al-Qaddafi, Libya. Age 62. In power since 1969. Last year’s rank: Dishonorable mention Freedom of speech, assembly and religion are harshly restricted. Entire families, tribes and even towns can be punished for “collective guilt.” Political opposition and damaging public or private property are considered “crimes against the state.” 7. Pervez Musharraf, Pakistan. Age 61. In power since 1999. Last year’s rank: Not mentioned “The country is more important than democracy,” he said. Pakistan has endangered the world by spreading nuclear technology. Last year, it was discovered that Abdul Qadeer Khan, head of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons program, had been selling nuclear technology to North Korea, Libya and Iran. As for civil liberties in Pakistan, a woman who has been raped may present her case only if she can produce four Muslim men who witnessed the attack. 8. Saparmurat Niyazov, Turkmenistan. Age 64. In power since 1990. Last year’s rank: 8 He controls his one-party state with torture, disappearances, detentions, house demolitions, forced labor and exile. He muzzles all media, and it is illegal to criticize any of his policies. Statues of Niyazov appear everywhere, and his picture is on all denominations of money. His “moral guide,” Rukhnama (Book of the Soul), is required reading for students, married couples and even applicants for a driver’s license. 9. Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe. Age 80. In power since 1980. Last year’s rank: 4 Average life expectancy in Zimbabwe is 33 years—among the lowest in the world. One of Mugabe’s many repressive laws deems it a crime “to make an abusive, indecent or obscene statement” about him. He continues to hold elections, but opposition is discouraged. Looking toward a vote in March, the parliament passed a law banning from Zimbabwe any human-rights or civil-liberties group that receives money from abroad. In other words, independent election monitors will not be allowed. 10. Teodoro Obiang Nguema, Equatorial Guinea. Age 62. In power since 1979. Last year’s rank: 6 Since major oil reserves were discovered there in 1995, U.S. oil companies have poured $5 billion into this tiny West African nation. Most of the oil income goes to President Obiang and his family, while the majority of the people live on less than $1 a day. Some American oil companies are being investigated for improprieties involving Obiang. The U.S. State Department has accused Obiang’s government of committing torture. In November, 20 people—including 11 foreign nationals —were sentenced to prison for an alleged coup attempt. The only evidence against them, says Amnesty International, were confessions extracted through torture.
So, some pretty bad guys = we must go to war = compassionate humanitarianism. I see the formula. What I am wondering is why Iraq was the first in our mission? It is great for the people of Iraq, what about the people of Sudan, North Korea, Burma, China....? Why are we allowing them to suffer under oppressive regimes? Is it possible this great humanitarian outcry is another game of smoke and mirrors? I guess time will tell...

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