Five Reasons Not to Go to War Part 1

Jill Taylor Bussiere jdt at
Sat Sep 22 08:05:43 EDT 2001

    This came in while I was just writing to you - clearly it was written
for you and me and all people, so I pass it on.  It is from ZNet.


Five Reasons Not to Go to War
By Michael Albert and Stephen R. Shalom

In the wake of the horrific attacks of September 11, many people find
their feelings of sadness and shock mixed with anger and calls for war.
But war would be horribly wrong for at least five reasons.

1. Guilt hasn't yet been proven.

As the New York Times acknowledged, "Law enforcement officials ...

appear to have little solid evidence tying Mr. bin Laden's group to the
attacks" (NYT, 20 Sept. 2001). If we believe in law and justice, when
crimes are committed we don't advocate that victims who have a strong
hunch about culprits impose punishment. We demand proof. We reject
vigilantism. We reject guilt by association. This is elementary and
uncontestable, except when fear and the drums of war cloud
consciousness. In the case of September 11, though an Islamic or Middle
Eastern connection seems clear, there are many extremist groups that
might have been responsible. To rush to punitive judgment, much less to
war, before responsibility has been determined violates basic principles
of justice. Guilt should be proven, not suspected.

2. War would violate International Law.

International law provides a clear recourse in situations of this sort:
present the matter to the Security Council, which is empowered under the
UN Charter, the fundamental document of contemporary international law,
to take appropriate action. The Security Council has met and unanimously
denounced the terrorist attacks, passing a strong resolution. But the
Security Council resolution did not -- despite what Washington might
claim -- authorize the use of force, and especially not a unilateral use
of force. The resolution ends by saying that the Council "remains seized
of the matter," which, as former UN correspondent Phyllis Bennis notes,
is "UN diplo-speak" meaning that "decision-making remains in the hands
of the Council itself, not those of any individual nation." To be sure,
the UN Charter allows countries to act in self-defense which would
permit the United States to shoot down a terrorist plane, for example.
But it has long been clear UN doctrine that self-defense does not allow
countries to themselves launch massive reprisal raids -- precisely
because to allow such reprisals would lead to an endless cycle of
unrestrained violence.

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