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President Bush Plans a War of Aggression

21 July 2002

There are some alarming similarities between the summer of 1939 and this summer of 2002.

In the summer of 1939 it was obvious that Hitler was planning to attack Poland. At the end of March, having concluded the seizure of Czechoslovakia, Hitler demanded that Poland yield Danzig and the Polish "corridor" to Germany. From then until five months later on September 1st, when Hitler attacked Poland launching World War II, you did not have to be a diplomat in the corridors of power to know that German aggression against Poland was going to happen.

Similarly, during this summer of 2002, it is obvious that President George Bush is planning to attack Iraq. He has been far more open and frank about his plans than was Hitler. Leaked plans for this attack were published in the New York Times on 5 July 2002 where the debate, as in the U.S. media generally, is how Iraq should be attacked, and not whether such an attack has any legitimacy. The President has never spoken of getting the UN Security Council's approval for this attack any more than Hitler tried to get support from the League of Nations for his attack on Poland.

Neither Hitler's attack on Poland, nor President Bush's planned attack on Iraq can be justified as "self-defence." They are each, clear-cut examples of the launching of a war of aggression. In Hitler's case the prize was the re-connection of Germany with East Prussia and the seizure of Poland itself as a big, resource rich agricultural prize for colonization and eventual use as a forward base for launching the attack on Russia.

In Bush's case, the prize is Iraq's gigantic petroleum reserves which amount to at least 18 cubic km of easily extracted oil. Compare this to US reserves of 4 cubic km of oil with very high extraction costs. Also, with U.S. forces in control of Iraq and already deployed in the Caspian area and in Afghanistan, the last remaining oil prize, Iran, will be hemmed in on three sides. The issue that motivates this planned aggression, is not "weapons-of- mass-destruction:" it is "resources-of-mass-attraction."

But what about the legalities of a war of aggression?

In 1945, at the end of World War II, Nazi German leaders were put on trial by the U.S.A, Soviet Union, Britain and France at the War Crimes Tribunal at Nuremberg. It is interesting to recall what this tribunal said about the waging of a war of aggression:

"To initiate a war of aggression," declared this Tribunal in its judgment, "is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

The Chief American Prosecutor at this Tribunal in 1945, Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson, was very clear on this point:

"Launching a war of aggression is a crime that no political or economic situation can justify ,"said Jackson... "If certain acts in violation of treaties are crimes, they are crimes whether the United States does them or Germany does themů.. we are not prepared to lay down a rule of criminal conduct against others which we would not be willing to have invoked against us."

Fifty-seven years after Supreme Court Justice Robert Jackson spoke these words, the United States is preparing to launch just such a war. When great powers defy international law in this way, a very great international instability results. Germany's defiance led to World War II. The results of U.S. defiance, in this nuclear armed world, may be just as serious.

David Morgan
Veterans Against Nuclear Arms © David Morgan

International Criminal Court and International Law
'War on terrorism' index


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