August 27, 2002—Ground Zero Plus 349

To Attack Or Not To Attack?
That Is The Question!

Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

       GROUND ZERO, New York City, August 27--As the eve of the first anniversary of the Terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon approaches, the halls of Washington D.C. echo with a Shakespearian chant:  "To Attack Or Not To Attack? That Is The Question!"
       The issue of our right to attack Iraq and obliterate Baghdad and Saddam Hussein's "Hitlarian" dictatorship is being bantered around  by America's war lords  like a 100mph tennis ball in the final match of the U.S. Open.   If one listens closely, one can hear the snapping of necks switching left to right, and right to left as America waffles over whether "to attack or not to attack."

     Vice President Dick Cheney tossed out a giant boogeyman today during a speech in Nashville, Tenn., to a convention of Veterans of Foreign Wars.  He warned that Saddam Hussein would "fairly soon" have nuclear weapons.
      In addition to accusations that Iraq is supplying al-Qaeda Terrorist groups safe harbor and information and resources on how to make and use chemical and biological warfare, the U.S. Government is now tossing nuclear threat in to sweeten the "attack pot."    What nation would argue with America protecting the world from "Hitler" having nuclear power at his disposal, goes the thinking and the attendant PR.  Hopefully, the Administration is betting the idea of Saddam trigging nukes in the Middle East, or using them to threaten the West, will shove the "no attack" fence riders onto the U.S.'s side.
     But the Administration isn't just counting on its bully pulpit to send out the message that Saddam is "evil incarnate," and needs to be disposed of immediately.  The State Department is currently training 17 Iraqi expatriates in publicizing the brutality of Mr. Hussein's rule.
      Additionally, the White House claims it has the legal right to unilaterally decide to attack Iraq without Congress' approval.  It's "legal right," the Administration says, comes from the authorization given by Congress to seek and destroy the Terrorists responsible for the September 11 attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon, which killed upwards of 3,000.   Also, there is a host of other Executive Branch loopholes the White House is using to be able to act without the public's consent to rid the world of Saddam Hussein.
       I wonder what Harry S. Truman would think about all the public banter regarding whether to go to "war" with Iraq or not.  Truman, who became the 33rd President on April 12, 1945, following the death of Franklin D. Roosevelt, immediately faced a critical decision--whether to use the atomic bomb against Japan or not.  Prior to his elevation from vice president to president, he had no knowledge of the bomb.

      He made the decision quietly, quickly.   And, he didn't seek world approval.   In his day, (and mine), the "surprise attack strategy" was most vital.  The idea of a good strategy is to never let the enemy know what you're thinking or planning.   Eisenhower, as Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe, put General George S. Patton in charge of an army of papermachie planes and tanks to fool the Germans into thinking he was going to lead an attack on some place other than Normandy.
       Truman used silence to his advantage.  On August 6, 1945, the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.   It surprised everyone in the world, especially the Japanese.
      It seems doubtful that Harry Truman back in 1945 would have received a unanimous endorsement from either Congress or the American public were he to issue a proffer for dropping two nuclear bombs on innocent civilians in the heart of Japan.    Had he tried to promote the killing of hundreds of thousands of men, women, children, grandparents, uncles, aunts, cousins--the vast majority of whom were unarmed, non-combatants--it seems unlikely the U.S., no matter how much they might detest the enemy, would endorse the wholesale destruction of the innocent to punish the guilty.
       Our current policy of seeking permission in the World Opinion Court prior to attacking Iraq seems to me like a child going to his mother or father and asking permission to bash the neighbor kid's head into a bloody pulp of oozing brain mush while the parents stand by and watch.
      The more one seeks permission to kill others, the less forgiveness wafts in the wind.
      To many American and nations around the world, war itself is a crime, no matter how just the cause.   Asking for an endorsement from nations to sanction a war on Iraq is a vainglorious attempt to make them an accomplice in whatever happens. They become part of a conspiracy against another that has not been tried and convicted by its peers.
     .  Now, Cheney is throwing out the "nuclear threat," attempting to justify an attack on the grounds we are trying to dethrone Saddam Hussein because of the "global threat" he presents not just to us, but to the world.  

       While all this bickering over the "right to wage war" in the public court is underfoot, Mr. Hussein has been rallying his forces to defend against a "not-so-surprise" attack.  
        In a recent interview, he said he is marshalling all his forces to defend Baghdad, so that any fight to usurp his power will turn into a street brawl, involving hand-to-hand combat from house to house.  Of course there is another alternative-- blow Baghdad off the face of the earth, as we did Hiroshima and Nagasaki 57 years ago.
      Unfortunately, on the Iraq issue, America is "walking loudly and carrying a small stick."
      Our nation's youngest President, Teddy Roosevelt, who gained office before he was 43 following the assassination of President McKinnely, was noted for his policy of maintaining world order by employing the creed, "Walk softly and carry a big stick." 

      But it seems President Bush is employing a far more dangerous one--"Walk loudly and carry a global public opinion  poll."  
      U.S. foreign policy, under this creed, has shifted from Vigilance to Terrorism.   Rather than sending in teams to seek concessions from nations, we're sending in air and land strikes, bombing our way through lands in an attempt to exercise control over those we single out at "threats" to our security.  While Saddam Hussein may well be the next "Hitler," he deserves his day in court.   America and the world deserve to see the "evidence" that he is worthy of risking our reputation as a land of democracy, for if we act out of vengeance, prejudice and bigotry, we may be viewed no less than Hussein.  
        Our threats and "rights of power" over other sovereign nations are being questioned by the world.   It appears America's might is being both challenged and castrated in the courts of world opinion.   Our recent attempts to get the International Criminal Court (ICC)  to provide immunity for U.S. troops  from "war crime prosecution" is failing.   Instead, the ICC is polarizing, refusing to sanction U.S. actions from global liability if we act outside the parameters the ICC has established.  U.S. officials are afraid the court might render indictments against the U.S. out of jealousy or prejudice, subverting our citizen's Constitutional Rights.  They too, our leaders, could be indicted, as we indict Saddam Hussein.   It's something about:  "What's good for the goose is good for the gander."
      Nations who generally fall behind the marching orders of U.S. military policy are shying away from endorsing an attack on Iraq.   Britain, our closest ally in Middle East military assaults, is back peddling from joining the U.S. in waging war on Iraq.

       U.S. pro-war officials stuff press packets with stories about how Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein are part of a common plot to subvert and Terrorize the United States, yet evidence to that fact wanes.  Employing the tools of Terrorism--Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--the U.S. alleges that Iraq is supplying Terrorists with access to chemical and biological weapons, as well as providing sanctuary to them and al-Qaeda members.   While the Bush Administration is tossing out bits and pieces of circumstantial evidence to garner both public and global support for an all-out war, U.S. Senators such as Republican Chuck Hagel, a Foreign Relations Committee member insists, "Saddam is not in league with al-Qaeda."   He opposes a preemptive strike against Iraq.

 Nebraskan Hagel campaigning for Senate 2002

       It seems to me that our efforts to justify a war with Iraq is more political than military at this point.   That makes such an attack one of potential political Terrorism rather than offensive Vigilance.
       The world, apparently, feels the same.   Globally, nations are demanding the U.S. to: "better ask for permission rather than forgiveness, because forgiveness may not follow unilateral action against Iraq."
       But then there's September 11.  The first anniversary of the only foreign attack against American soil since the War of 1812  is rapidly approaching.   On September 12, President Bush is slated to speak to the United Nations General Assembly.  Many wonder whether he'll be asking them for permission or forgiveness.
       The flames of war being fed by the Administration's "war-advocates" make me wonder if the White House is planning a special anniversary present for September 11--a-not-so-secret attack on Saddam Hussein as payback for our failed attempt to find Osama bin Laden.

         After all, someone has to pay, right?

         The Terrorists are up 3,000, and America is blanked.  Nearly a year after the Terrorist attacks, no one has paid.   We have one suspect locked up whom we allege was one of the henchmen who should have been aboard the planes that broke America's security heart.  However, he's like the guy passing dope in a drug deal; he's  not the source.   His conviction--if that ever happens--is only a finger on the hand of Terrorism, and there are nine others plus an entire body still at large. And then there's John Walker, our "disturbed Jane Fonda" of Afghanistan.   He doesn't even rattle the Richter Scale of Revenge.

      Attacking Iraq on September 11 would give the Administration some chest-puffing time, and, it would key in on the up-and-coming elections to bolster Republican control of the Senate and House--or would it?
       Times have changed.    The Terrorist attack upon America shattered the world's illusion of our invincibility.  It did mine, and most of the 285 other Americans in this country.   It became the Kryptonite that drove Super America to her knees, and cause her brow to sweat profusely under the weight of an enemy who cannot be found, but whose shadow looms like a mushroom cloud over our political leaders. 

     Judging by the snarls from the White House against Iraq, the "blood-for-blood" thirst to revenge September 11 must be quenched.   Anyone with a listening ear knows Washington has its finger on the button, ready to push us into an all-out war in the blink of an eye.
        As a citizen and former combat. Marine, I don't like the idea of  America being seen as "weak" in the eyes of the world.   But I also don't like us being viewed as a "capitalistic Terrorist" either.   The belief that we can bully the world to our will was shattered by the events of September 11.  On that day we became "just another nation," subject to the same fault lines as all other nations.  Killing Hussein might sate the Sword of Justice, but it degrades the Sword of Vigilance.  It makes the Sentinels of Vigilance who died on September 11 cringe, not jump for joy.
        I don't believe acts of Terrorism against the Terrorists is the key to winning the war on Terrorism.   But I do believe there are powerful tools of Vigilance we can employ that the entire world will embrace. 
       The most critical of those tools is the Pledge of Vigilance. (see Pledge below)
       Instead of bombing Iraq with weapons of destruction, we should send planes over Baghdad dropping Pledges of Vigilance.   Instead of trying to "kill Hussein," we should try to convert him from being a Father of Terror into a Father of Vigilance.
      If the world stands up to Terrorism by employing its opposite--Vigilance--then bullies have few to Intimidate. 
      I believe our nation's leaders are using Fear and Intimidation to drive the public and world into a state of Complacency so they can act freely--without permission.   Bullies threaten the weak, and that seems what we're doing.   And we're not just threatening Saddam Hussein, but our allies and the world who views our actions and intents with jaundice.   We are becoming the beast we seek."   We are trying to seek "forgiveness before we act," a position of impossibility, and one that will only haunt us if we do strike Iraq.
      We're also siding with other bullies to gain support.  The US recently put a Chinese Terrorist group on its "hit list," much to the glee of Chinese leaders.   Some believe it was gesture by America to endorse the right of the Chinese government--as thought they needed it--to Terrorize the Terrorists.   Bullies buddy up with bullies.

       But there are alternatives to bullying the world out of Terrorism and into Vigilance.
       Prior to the dropping of the A Bomb in 1945, President Truman was given a suggestion to drop leaflets telling the citizens of Japan what we intended to do.  It would have given them a chance to force change in their country.  There was a belief if the people realized what was going to happen to them, they would have demanded their government's surrender.
       Regretfully, such flyers were not dropped.   Surprise was the key to that attack.  History will always wonder whether there could have been another way.
       A half a century later, we still have an option to rally the people of a nation to take control of their destiny over their leaders..   We can drop Pledges of Vigilance, millions upon millions of them to the people of Iraq.
       When the mothers, fathers, grandparents, cousins, uncles, brothers, sisters, aunts  read the Pledge, they can elect whether to fight for the security of the children's children's children, or, to back a leader who puts all their children before the barrel of a gun.   Then, if we had crystal clear proof the world would accept, we could indict and sentence Saddam Hussein if the people didn't act.
        I'd be most proud of America were it to drop the Pledges of Vigilance over Iraq.   I can't say I'll feel that way if and when we attack Iraq without giving the citizens, not the leaders, the Right to Vigilance.
        I think it's time to drop Pledges of Vigilance, not bombs.

Go To Aug 26--Whose To Say--"That's So Bad!"

©2001 - 2004,, All rights reserved -  a ((HYYPE)) design