Usurping Rule of Law for the Rule of Man
by Susan Abulhawa
April 10, 2003
Our Congressman called it an exercise in democracy, where different opinions on the war could be aired, but everyone on his handpicked panel was of the same opinion, “expert opinion,” to attack a nation that has not provoked us. Their argument was typical deception by omission and in some cases, by outright lies. The forum organized by Jim Greenwood was a podium from which to disseminate propaganda in order to quell whatever disquiet Bucks County, Pennsylvania residents might be feeling over the attack on Iraq.
One speaker, seized the chance to tug at the emotional strings of the audience by declaring that his parents were WWII refugees who barely escaped the Nazis. Other than employing the already discredited propaganda and phantom WMD, he was able to provide no credible relevance of his parent’s refugee status to the attack on Iraq.
Unfortunately, his was the least egregious of the exploitations, Monday evening. The ‘terrorism expert’ on the panel did no more than stoke people’s worst fears. Of course, he didn’t bother to explain to us how unleashing our awesome military arsenal on a ravaged nation, populated by millions of souls, is going to make us safe. I wanted to ask this man if he would consider a single bomb dropped on City Hall in Philadelphia an act of terrorism, and if so, then how is it that dropping several thousand on Baghdad is conveniently called ‘liberation’?
Then there was the insidious man whose duty was to tell us about the process of rebuilding Iraq after we conquer it. He uttered more mistruths than I can list, but never mentioned that we’ll be an occupation force, just like Israel, for the first time in this country’s history, setting up 23 ministries, each of them headed by an American. Contracts to rebuild what we have bombed are said to already be divvied up among companies like Halliburton, and others with connections at the very top.
Then he just lied. He said that our government went in to rebuild Iraq’s water infrastructure in 1996. The fact is, and CIA documents support this, we waged a deliberate campaign to specifically destroy Iraq’s drinking water system. We did that. And hundreds of thousands of human beings, mostly children, died from dysentery and easily prevented diseases born of unsanitary conditions. And Madeline Albright went on national television and said the price of 500,000 dead Iraqi children was “worth it.” The whole Arab world, including the parents of those children, heard her words, and I’ll bet they’re hearing them now, with the sound! of every bomb that shrieks through their skies and sends their windows shattering and their children cowering.
When I finally got a chance at the microphone, I wasn’t sure where to start, with which myth. Instead, I chose to remind the audience that we are a nation that lives by the rule of law. In my mind, this is one of the things that has always distinguished us from other countries. But usurping the UN Charter, the NATO Alliance and even our own Constitution, betrays the rule of law and yields to the rule of man. Supporting this war betrays the young men and women who enlisted to defend their country, not to make it a hegemonic empire that operates on the outskirts of the law.
But as soon as I tried to point out the hypocrisy of our Congressman’s disingenuous fulminations on international law, voices rose to silence me, like they do whenever anyone dares to question our boundless support of the great rogue nation of Israel.
So here it is. No nation on earth has violated more UN Resolutions or tenets of International law than Israel and this nation has one of the most consistent, well-documented and long enduring pattern of gross human rights violations. Nothing, no matter how venal, committed by Saddam, can rival the crimes of any Israeli prime minister. Yet, Congress is considering a special aid package to Israel in the amount of $12 billion--in addition to the $5 billion it has already received this year.
In less than three years, this President has managed to turn a thug like Saddam into a world victim and a hero. He has given tacit approval for war crimes with our weaponry against a captive and beleaguered Palestinian society screaming a primal and agonizing cry for justice. He has turned old friends into opponents and made the people of every nation choke the streets of their cities with anti-American demonstrations. This president has trampled on treatises and charters forged by the blood of our own soldiers so that we might have some higher law than the whim of ambitious men.
We’re being lied to. I promise you that much. But I’m open to be disproved. If, indeed, Jim Greenwood can sustain his argument in the light of scrutiny, I would invite him to a public debate.
Susan Abulhawa is a Palestinian living in Pennsylvania. She is the founder of Playgrounds for Palestine, a non-profit organization dedicated to building playgrounds and recreation areas for Palestinian children living under military occupation. Email: email@example.com