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National March in Washington DC & joint action in San Francisco

26 Oct 2002


Why We Are Marching on October 26th

By Carl Messineo and Mara Verheyden-Hilliard

[The authors, attorneys and co-founders of the Partnership for Civil Justice - LDEF, are members of the national  steering committee of the A.N.S.W.E.R. (Act Now to Stop  War & End Racism) Coalition.]

George W. Bush has declared his intention to wage a 'preemptive' war against Iraq and is now seeking to  strong-arm the international community, the U.N., and the  Congress into support and submission. As members of  Congress rush to show their obedience and member states of  the U.N. line up to receive the anticipated spoils of war,  the administration is now waging a campaign to convince  the people of the United States to fall into step and  finance with money and blood this war brought for conquest  on behalf of the corporate and oil interests that make up  Bush's true constituency.

Bush's preemptive war is a war of aggression. The U.S. policy supporting the war is not the rule of law, but the  rule of force.

But no U.N. resolution and no Congressional resolution can legalize an illegal war. With pen to paper and votes of  support, they can only commit to wilful ratification,  complicity and responsibility for illegal acts by  endorsing a criminal enterprise.

A war of aggression violates the United States Constitution, the United Nations Charter, and the  principles of the Nuremberg Tribunal. It violates the  collective law of humanity that recognizes the  immeasurable harm and unconscionable human suffering when  a country engages in wars of aggression to advance its  government's perceived national interests.


On September 20, 2002, the Bush Administration issued its blueprint for global domination and ceaseless military  interventions, in its comprehensive policy statement  entitled "The National Security Strategy of the United  States."

The National Security Strategy sets forth the U.S. military-industrial complex's ambition for the U.S. to  remain the world's superpower with global political,  economic and military dominance. The stated policy of the  U.S. is "dissuading military competition" (See source I)  and preventing any other world entity or union of states  "from pursuing a military build-up in hopes of surpassing,  or equaling, the power of the United States." (See source  II)

The strategic plan elevates free trade and free markets to be "a moral principle . . . real freedom" (See source III)  and endorses a comprehensive global conquest strategy  utilizing the World Trade Organization, the Free Trade Act  of the Americas, the International Monetary Fund, the  World Bank, among other mechanisms.

The Washington Post reports that the National Security Strategy gives the United States "a nearly messianic role"  in its quest for global dominance. (See source IV) The National Security Strategy confirms and elaborates  what was reflected in the January 2002 Nuclear Posture  Review, that the Bush Administration maintains a policy of  preemptive warfare contemplating the use of  non-conventional weapons of mass destruction as a first  strike measure. (See source V)


Bush's preemptive war policy is a war without just cause. Under international law and centuries of common legal  usage, a preemptive war may be justified as an act of self  defense only where there exists a genuine and imminent  threat of physical attack.

Bush's preemptive war against Iraq doesn't even purport to preempt a physical attack. It purports to preempt a threat  that is neither issued nor posed. Iraq is not issuing  threats of attack against the United States. It is only  the United States which threatens war.

It is not a war for disarmament. It is the U.S. which has stockpiled nuclear, biological and chemical weapons. It is  the U.S. which is directly threatening to use these  weapons against another country. It is the U.S. which has  bombed Iraq relentlessly for more than ten years, killing  scores of innocent civilians.

The Bush Administration turns logic on its head, twisting reality in order to create the pretext for its war of  aggression. The Administration claims that the necessary  prerequisite of an imminent threat of attack can be found  in the fact that there is no evidence of an imminent  threat, and therefore the threat is even more sinister as  a hidden threat. The lack of a threat becomes the threat,  which becomes cause for war.

By the U.S. Government's own claims, it destroyed 80% of Iraq's weapons capability in the earlier Gulf War, and  subsequently destroyed 90% of the remaining capacity  through the weapons inspections process. There has been no  evidence that Iraq is capable of an attack on the U.S.,  let alone possessing the intention of carrying out such an  attack.

BUSH'S PROPOSED WAR AND CURRENT THREATS VIOLATE THE U.S. CONSTITUTION, THE U.N. CHARTER AND INTERNATIONAL LAW Bush's preemptive war policy and proposed attack on Iraq  cannot be justified under any form of established law. The preemptive war policy and Bush's threatened new  military assault on Iraq violates U.S. domestic law and  international law. The warmongering, preparations for war,  and threats of violence coming from Bush, Cheney,  Rumsfeld, Rice and other White House and Pentagon hawks,  are in and of themselves violations of international law  and constitute crimes against peace.

Article VI of the U.S. Constitution establishes that ratified treaties, such as the U.N. Charter, are the  "supreme law of the land."

The Article 1 of the U.N. Charter establishes "The purposes of the United Nations are . . . To maintain international peace and sovereignty, and to that end: to  take effective collective measures for the prevention and  removals of threats to the peace, and for the suppression  of acts of aggression or other breaches of the peace and  to bring about by peaceful means, and in conformity with  the principles of justice and international law,  adjustment or settlement of international disputes or  situations which might lead to a breach of the peace . .  ."

Article 2 states that all member states "shall act in accordance with the following Principles" ". . . All members shall settle their international  disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that  international peace and security, and justice, are not  endangered.

"All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the  territorial integrity or political independence of any  state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the  Purposes of the United Nations . . ."

Under this framework, acts of aggression, such as Bush's threatened attack, are to be suppressed and force is used  only as a last and unavoidable resort.

The U.N. Charter was enacted in 1945 in the aftermath of the devastation and suffering of World War II. The Charter  was enacted to bring an end to acts of aggression, "to  save succeeding generations from the scourge of war, which  twice in our lifetime has brought untold sorrow to  mankind."

Disputes which might lead to a breach of the peace are required to be resolved *by peaceful means.* Chapter VI of the U.N. Charter, "Pacific Settlement of  Disputes," requires countries to "first of all, seek a  resolution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation,  conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to  regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means  of their own choice."


Bush has asked the U.N. Security Council to support execution of Bush's policy of a potentially nuclear  "preemptive" war, as if that Council could endorse a war  of aggression. The Security Council lacks the legal  authority to grant such permission. The Security Council,  by affirmative vote or by acquiescence to U.S. policy,  cannot abrogate its own mandate. No collective action by  the fifteen permanent and temporary members of the  Security Council can lawfully violate the Charter which is  the sole source of their collective authority. This is made clear in the U.N. Charter itself, which  provides in Article 24, that "In discharging these duties  the Security Council *shall act in accordance with the  Purposes and Principles of the United Nations*."

While there are, of course, procedures by which collective use of force may be authorized by the Security Council to  maintain or restore international peace and security  (Articles 41 and 42) those procedures may not be used to  endorse aggression in violation of the primary purposes of  the U.N. Charter. Article 51 of the U.N. Charter  acknowledges the right to self-defense ?if an armed attack  occurs against a Member of the United Nations until the  Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain  international peace and security." None of the provisions  allow for authorization for Bush's war plans and first  strike strategies. Any resolution authorizing a preemptive  war of aggression is *ultra vires*, or null and void as  beyond the authority of the Council to enact.

The very issuance of the Bush doctrine of preemptive warfare and also the threat to wage war against Iraq are,  each, a violation of international law as a crime against  peace, which is defined in the Nuremberg Charter as the  "Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of  aggression or a war in violation of international  treaties, agreements or assurances."


Neither Congress nor the President has the right to engage the U.S. in a war of aggression and any vote of  endorsement, far from legalizing or legitimizing global  war plans, serves only as ratification of war crimes.  Under the principles of universal accountability  established at Nuremberg, "The fact that a person who  committed an act which constitutes a crime under  international law acted as Head of State or responsible  Government official does not relieve him from  responsibility under international law." (See source VI)

The execution of economic sanctions by the Bush I, Bush II and Clinton Administrations, which has caused the deaths  of over one million people, primarily children and their  grandparents, is likewise sanctionable as a crime against  humanity under the Nuremberg Charter and under the  International Criminal Court Statute as "the intentional  infliction of conditions of life, . . . the deprivation of  access of food to medicine, calculated to bring about the  destruction of a part of a population. (See source VII)  The Bush Administration has rejected the International  Criminal Court treaty signed by over 130 countries. This  rejection is an admission of the administration's  consciousness of guilt and of criminal intentions. The  Bush administration acts with a conscious disregard of  humanitarian laws and a stated intention to avoid  accountability for their crimes under international law  prohibiting crimes against the peace, war crimes and  crimes against humanity. The National Security Strategy  promulgated by the Bush administration states that the  United States "will take the actions necessary to ensure  that our efforts to meet our global security commitments  and protect Americans are not impaired by the potential  for investigations, inquiry or prosecution by the  International Criminal Court (ICC), whose jurisdiction  does not extend to Americans and which we do not accept."  (See source VIII)


Once this policy of preemptive wars of aggression is invoked by the Bush Administration to justify unprovoked  attacks against the centers of population in Iraq, the  doctrine will be used by the hawks in the administration  time and time again, and will also be adopted by nations  and individuals internationally as a justification for the  preemptive use of catastrophic violence against centers of  population worldwide. The legitimization of preemptive  wars of aggression will be used to justify attacks against  U.S. centers of population, and will bring greater violent  retribution upon the cities and people of the United  States for actions that the government is taking in their  names, without their informed consent.

The risk of suffering harm because of this doctrine is, of course, not distributed equally among all residents of the  United States. Those who will lose their lives fighting in  wars of aggression will be the young, disproportionately  persons of color, and those who must enlist in the U.S.  military because of bleak economic opportunity. Those who  derive their wealth and security from the transactions of  war, from increased oil profits caused by global  instability or conquest of oil rich regions, and from the  constant re-building and re-arming necessary to conduct  endless wars against countless peoples premised on  imperceptible threats -- they will have the means to  acquire seclusion, protection and greater safety. Preemptive war will not stop with Iraq. Constant military  interventions worldwide are necessary to enforce Bush?s  stated policy of global economic, political and military  domination. Just four days after the September 11th  attacks, the CIA presented its "Worldwide Attack Matrix"  identifying scores of countries that the CIA wanted  permission to attack. Bush approved the CIA wish list, and  authorized immediate covert and lethal CIA operations in  over sixty nations. (See source IX)


As the U.S. moves at breakneck pace in execution of its stated policy of global domination and overt military  interventions, the need for the people to take action is  urgent.

Congress will not stop this policy of aggressive warfare and global domination. Many in Congress are well served  with the tithing of the war profiteers and their corporate  sponsors who see U.S. military domination as a way to  enforce their interests, to exploit human labor at  starvation wages overseas and to drive down wages  domestically, to mine vast sources of environmental  resources globally, and to impose and expand the reach of  their "free" markets.

The U.S. Constitutional framework provides that, regardless of who temporarily holds office, all power  remains in the hands of the people. It is time now for the  people to take the reins of power back from those who have  stated their intention to act in violation of all laws  that humankind has struggled to create to end global  conflagration and prohibit wars of aggression. When law will not restrain the government, the people  must. We must take to the streets in mass numbers in  organized and spontaneous acts of resistance. The message  must be clearly conveyed that if the Bush administration  refuses to be accountable to U.S. domestic law, to the  U.N. Charter, to international law, to all known standards  of just conduct, then the people of conscience within the  United States will rise up to demand accountability. And  the message must be sent that the people of the U.S. will  not allow the Bush administration to spend the blood of  the people of the United States and the people of Iraq who  are not our enemies, in a needless war for oil.


The authors, Carl Messineo and Mara Verheyden-Hilliard, constitutional law and human rights lawyers, are the  co-founders of the Partnership for Civil Justice Legal  Defense and Education Fund, a public interest legal  organization in Washington, D.C., and authors of the  forthcoming book "Empire at Home: George W. Bush and John  Ashcroft v. the Bill of Rights."


Partnership for Civil Justice LDEF

1901 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W.

Suite 607

Washington, D.C. 20006

(202) 530-5630

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To join the OCTOBER 26 NATIONAL MARCH ON WASHINGTON DC & joint action in San Francisco to Stop the War Against Iraq  Before It Starts, and to learn more about anti-war  resources, visit and  see below for more information.



for "George Bush Plans High Crimes and Misdemeanors"

I) National Security Strategy of the United States, September 2002, page 29.

II) National Security Strategy of the United States, September 2002, page 30.

III) National Security Strategy of the United States, September 2002, page 18.

IV) Karen DeYoung and Mike Allen, The Washington Post, "Bush Shifts Strategy from Deterrence to Dominance,"  September 21, 2001, A1.

V) Walter Pincus, The Washington Post, "U.S. Nuclear Arms Stance Modified by Policy Study," March 23, 2002, A14;  Thomas E. Ricks and Vernon Loeb, The Washington Post,  "Bush Developing Military Policy of Striking First," June  10, 2002, A1.

VI) Principle III, Principles of International Law Recognized in the Charter of the Nuremberg Tribunal and in  the Judgment of the Tribunal (Adopted by the International  Law Commission of the United States, 1950).

VII) International Criminal Court Statute, Article 7, paragraph 2.

VIII) National Security Strategy of the United States, September 2002, page 31.

IX) Bob Woodward and Dan Balz, The Washington Post, "At Camp David, Advice and Dissent," January 31, 2002, A1; Bob  Woodward, The Washington Post, "President Broadens  Anti-Hussein Order," June 16, 2002, A1.


Momentum is building for the October 26 National March in Washington DC & joint action in San Francisco.

For the growing list of ENDORSERS, go to

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FOR MORE INFORMATION about Oct. 26 email or call 202-332-5757 or  415-821-6545.

The Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia was formed in 1993 to combat rising religious intolerance in South Asia and to campaign for peace and justice in the region. We are committed to working towards a just, non-violent resolution of the crisis we are currently living through. If you are interested in joining us in this work, please call 617-983-3934 or e-mail

12 Jun 2007

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