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FEBRUARY 28, 1991
The Gulf War's Ragged Ending: US Decides on Containment Policy For Iraq.
1992 First Hints Of Preemption Strategy

September 17, 2002 Assessing The Bush Doctrine


Tommaso Palladini of Milan perhaps said it best as he marched with his countrymen in Rome. "You fight terrorism," he said, "by creating more justice in the world."

The People versus the Powerful is the oldest story in human history. At no point in history have the Powerful wielded so much control. At no point in history has the active and informed involvement of the People, all of them, been more absolutely required. The tide can be stopped, and the men who desire empire by the sword can be thwarted. It has already begun, but it must not cease. These are men of will, and they do not intend to fail.

William Rivers Pitt

When the tyrant has disposed of foreign enemies by conquest or treaty, and there is nothing more to fear from them, then he is always stirring up some war or other, in order that the people may require a leader.
--Plato

Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out...and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel. ..And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for "the universal brotherhood of man"--with his mouth.
MARK TWAIN- What Is Man?

National Catholic Reporter
The Independent Newsweekly
Joan Chittister:
From Where I Stand
Web address: NCRonline.org

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April 22, 2003
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A Call To Preemptive Patriotism
by Joan Chittister,OSB
I saw a newspaper report this morning that troubled me. Dale Petroskey, president of the National Baseball Hall of Fame, that great all-American sport, canceled a celebration for the 15th anniversary of the movie “Bull Durham” because he considers the public concerns of its co-stars (Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins) about U.S. action in Iraq unpatriotic. “We have to get behind the president in wartime,” the political mantra insists. But I question when and how and why?

As I read this report, two comments played like a descant in my ears. The first came from the Book of Proverbs: “Loyalty and faithfulness preserve the king, and his throne is upheld by righteousness.” I found myself wondering what real loyalty and faithfulness imply at a time like this.

My second observation on the article came from Teddy Roosevelt.

Teddy Roosevelt, the 26th president of the United States, was not a patriot, at least not by this year’s definition. Roosevelt wrote, “To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public.” And Teddy Roosevelt ought to know: he was criticized plenty -- even during the invasion of the Philippines -- and for good reason.

But today in this country, just as during the McCarthy era and its communist witch-hunts, unpatriotic patriotism, devotion to the government rather than to the Constitution, is again rearing its ugly and dangerous head. Other governments of the world debated the legitimacy of Bush’s so-called “doctrine of pre-emptive war” while our own representatives said little or nothing. Journalists were fired for saying the truth. What does ‘loyalty and faithfulness’ really demand here?

The United States with its own “weapons of mass destruction” -- bunker buster bombs, off-shore howitzers, precision-guided missiles and over 8,000 air force bombing runs -- has done what no one ever doubted they could. Iraq fell in 21 days. Having been led to expect brutal biological-chemical warfare, possibly nuclear attack, certainly increased terrorist activity, Americans woke up to discover that U.S. and British forces had overwhelmed the Iraqi army. Its 1960s and 1970s era weapons “were simply no match for the high tech military campaign of the United States” according to Gen. Wesley Clarke in the course of a regular CNN briefing. They had no satellite guided air strikes, no drones, no air force, no cruise missiles to match our own. However sophisticated their war plans, without weapons of the same quality, Iraqi soldiers in the field, Clarke explained, “simply could not ‘execute.”

What’s wrong with this picture? We insisted to the U.N. Security Council that we were invading Iraq to disarm Saddam Hussein. Now, it seems, he was not very well armed to begin with.

But then, that’s what “pre-emptive war” is all about, isn’t it? We attack what might attack us -- just in case they ever get armed enough to do it. So, the world had better get used to it.

In fact, the world had better get used to the new us. From now on, it’s war by-guess-and-by-golly. And, given the relative absence of the US Congress from the debate on Iraq, if this present situation is any model of congressional “patriotism,” war will be planned, launched and conducted apparently at the whim and mercy of one man in the White House.

Clearly, the Roman Empire rises again. Except that this time we’re it. And there’s no telling who will be next to know it firsthand: Korea? Syria? China? Pakistan? All for the best of motives, of course. All in the most humane of inhumane ways, I’m sure. But each and all of them distinct, doubtful, and devastating to the US Constitution itself.

We have captives in cages in Guantanamo Bay. We have invaded and destroyed the infrastructure of two countries, both Afghanistan and Iraq. We have saddled ourselves with a financial burden that may well destroy our own superstructure before it’s over. We have alienated our major European allies who now call us “a rogue superpower.” Coalitions are forming everywhere -- against us.

From where I stand, it seems that if the U.S. “Doctrine of War” has changed, if we are now in the business of waging war “pre-emptively,” then what we really need is a great deal of “loyal and faithful” pre-emptive debate, as well. Without it, real patriotism in this country -- a patriotism based on commitment to the warrants of democracy, not to the persuasions of any then reigning government -- is already a thing of the past.

More than that, along with this kind of patriotism will go the democracy we intend to impose. By suppressing the voices of people who are patriotically unpatriotic enough to remind us of ideas like these, we run the risk of losing the very society we purport to defend. Worse, we will forfeit, as well, the righteousness which really upholds a government and to which the Book of Proverbs surely refers.



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May 27, 2003 Vol. 1, No. 9
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Is there anything left that matters?

By Joan Chittister,OSB
This is what I don't understand: All of a sudden nothing seems to matter.

First, they said they wanted Bin Laden "dead or alive." But they didn't get him. So now they tell us that it doesn't matter. Our mission is greater than one man.

Then they said they wanted Saddam Hussein, "dead or alive." He's apparently alive but we haven't got him yet, either. However, President Bush told reporters recently, "It doesn't matter. Our mission is greater than one man."

Finally, they told us that we were invading Iraq to destroy their weapons of mass destruction. Now they say those weapons probably don't exist. Maybe never existed. Apparently that doesn't matter either.

Except that it does matter.

I know we're not supposed to say that. I know it's called "unpatriotic." But it's also called honesty. And dishonesty matters.

It matters that the infrastructure of a foreign nation that couldn't defend itself against us has been destroyed on the grounds that it was a military threat to the world.

It matters that it was destroyed by us under a new doctrine of "pre-emptive war" when there was apparently nothing worth pre-empting.

It surely matters to the families here whose sons went to war to make the world safe from weapons of mass destruction and will never come home.

It matters to families in the United States whose life support programs were ended, whose medical insurance ran out, whose food stamps were cut off, whose day care programs were eliminated so we could spend the money on sending an army to do what did not need to be done.

It matters to the Iraqi girl whose face was burned by a lamp that toppled over as a result of a U.S. bombing run.

It matters to Ali, the Iraqi boy who lost his family — and both his arms — in a U.S. air attack.

It matters to the people in Baghdad whose water supply is now fetid, whose electricity is gone, whose streets are unsafe, whose 158 government ministries' buildings and all their records have been destroyed, whose cultural heritage and social system has been looted and whose cities teem with anti-American protests.

It matters that the people we say we "liberated" do not feel liberated in the midst of the lawlessness, destruction and wholesale social suffering that so-called liberation created.

It matters to the United Nations whose integrity was impugned, whose authority was denied, whose inspection teams are even now still being overlooked in the process of technical evaluation and disarmament.

It matters to the reputation of the United States in the eyes of the world, both now and for decades to come, perhaps.

And surely it matters to the integrity of this nation whether or not its intelligence gathering agencies have any real intelligence or not before we launch a military armada on its say-so.

And it should matter whether or not our government is either incompetent and didn't know what they were doing or were dishonest and refused to say.

The unspoken truth is that either as a people we were misled, or we were lied to, about the real reason for this war. Either we made a huge — and unforgivable — mistake, an arrogant or ignorant mistake, or we are swaggering around the world like a blind giant, flailing in all directions while the rest of the world watches in horror or in ridicule.

If Bill Clinton's definition of "is" matters, surely this matters. If a president's sex life matters, surely a president's use of global force against some of the weakest people in the world matters. If a president's word in a court of law about a private indiscretion matters, surely a president's word to the community of nations and the security of millions of people matters.

And if not, why not? If not, surely there is something as wrong with us as citizens, as thinkers, as Christians as there must be with some facet of the government. If wars that the public says are wrong yesterday — as over 70% of U.S. citizens did before the attack on Iraq — suddenly become "right" the minute the first bombs drop, what kind of national morality is that?

Of what are we really capable as a nation if the considered judgment of politicians and people around the world means nothing to us as a people?

What is the depth of the American soul if we can allow destruction to be done in our name and the name of "liberation" and never even demand an accounting of its costs, both personal and public, when it is over?

We like to take comfort in the notion that people make a distinction between our government and ourselves. We like to say that the people of the world love Americans, they simply mistrust our government. But excoriating a distant and anonymous "government" for wreaking rubble on a nation in pretense of good requires very little of either character or intelligence.

What may count most, however, is that we may well be the ones Proverbs warns when it reminds us: "Kings take pleasure in honest lips; they value the one who speaks the truth." The point is clear: If the people speak and the king doesn't listen, there is something wrong with the king. If the king acts precipitously and the people say nothing, something is wrong with the people.

It may be time for us to realize that in a country that prides itself on being democratic, we are our government. And the rest of the world is figuring that out very quickly.

From where I stand, that matters.

A Benedictine Sister of Erie, Sister Joan is a best-selling author and well-known international lecturer. She is founder and executive director of Benetvision: A Resource and Research Center for Contemporary Spirituality, and past president of the Conference of American Benedictine Prioresses and the Leadership Conference of Women Religious. Sister Joan has been recognized by universities and national organizations for her work for justice, peace and equality for women in the Church and society. She is an active member of the International Peace Council.

Comments or questions about this column may be sent to:
fwis@nationalcatholicreporter.org


SISTER JOAN ARCHIVES

June 3, 2003 Unless I ask you to write, please don't
May 27, 2003
Is there anything left that matters?
May 20, 2003
Reading peace in the signs of the times
May 13, 2003
Religion: One part solution, one part problem
May 6, 2003
Truth Stumbles in the Public Square
April 29, 2003
The Liberation of the Spirit
April 22, 2003
A Call To Preemptive Patriotism
April 15, 2003
What Are We Losing by Winning?
April 8, 2003
A New Moment in Time
April 4, 2003
A New Low In Congressional Leadership

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STATEMENT:
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BELOW IS THE NEW YORK TIMES AD.

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From Moveon's "Musicians United To Win Without War"

Links to how the virtual march fared.

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By John Lennon

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   Word of the Day for Monday June 2, 2003

   desultory \DES-uhl-tor-ee\, adjective:
   1.  Jumping  or  passing  from one thing or subject to another
   without order or rational connection; disconnected; aimless.
   2.  By  the  way;  as  a  digression;  not  connected with the
   subject.
   3. Coming disconnectedly or occuring haphazardly; random.
   4. Disappointing in performance or progress.

specious \SPEE-shuhs\, adjective:
   1. Apparently right; superficially fair, just, or correct, but
   not  so  in  reality;  as,  "specious  reasoning;  a  specious
   argument."
   2. Deceptively pleasing or attractive.


stormy petrel \STOR-mee-PET-ruhl\, noun:
   One  who brings discord or strife, or appears at the onset
   of trouble.


demagogue \DEM-a-gog\ noun:
A leader who obtains power by means of impassioned appeals to the emotions and prejudices of the populace.

countermand \KOWN-tuhr-mand\, transitive verb:
   1.  To  revoke  (a  former  command);  to cancel or rescind by giving an order contrary to one previously given.

oderint dum metuant: Let them hate so long as they fear. - Lucius Accius - Roman tragic poet (170 BC) Believed to be a favorite saying of Caligula.

_________________________

Ca·lig·u·la Originally Gaius Caesar A.D. 12-41. Emperor of Rome (37-41) who succeeded his adoptive father, Tiberius. After a severe illness, he became a crazed megalomaniac given to capricious cruelty and harebrained schemes...


megalomania n. 1. A psychopathological condition in which delusional fantasies of wealth, power, or omnipotence predominate. 2. An obsession with grandiose or extravagant things or actions.

 

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