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ISSUE 116 VOL 4 PUBLISHED 10/4/2002

The brutality of war

By Brian Lindsley
Contributing Writer

Friday, October 4, 2002

On the anniversary of the September 11 attacks, a huge reprint of Pablo Picasso’s Guernica appeared in the Buntrock Commons. The painting, commissioned in response to the fascist bombing of the Spanish city of Guernica on April 26, 1937, portrays the horrors and atrocities of war.

These images come into my mind whenever I hear the word “war”, though the word has become commonplace over the last year. When Bush talks of war with Iraq, he speaks of freedom and justice, making war seem necessary and unavoidable despite international opposition. What Bush fails to mention is the imminent suffering that war causes for those caught in the crossfire.

A Los Angeles Times article published on Friday, September 27 reported, “US and British warplanes pounded an airport and a radar facility Thursday at two sites in southern Iraq under a new Pentagon policy. It paves the way for a possible war by going beyond defensive fire to retaliatory strikes aimed at permanently disabling Iraq’s air defenses.”

Although news stories of late have almost exclusively focused on the “pending” war with Iraq, the war has really been going on for over a decade. According to the UN, over 500,000 Iraqi children have already died as a direct result of sanctions against Iraq. The horrors portrayed in Guernica are an every day reality for the people of Iraq. Will a war ease the suffering of the people of Iraq or will it create more suffering?

When the US retaliated for the September 11 attacks, the US military “accidentally” killed more innocent civilians in Afghanistan than were killed in the World Trade Towers. This is not justice. This is a careless and bloodthirsty way to avenge the wrongs committed by a handful of terrorists.

In the military wake of September 11, our nation is asked to authorize Bush “to use all means that he determines to be appropriate, including force, in order to enforce . . . [previous UN resolutions], defend the national security interests of the US against the threat posed by Iraq, and restore international peace and security in the region.”

Bush demanded that Iraq accept the unconditional return of UN inspectors under previous UN resolutions to avert war. When Iraq accepted these terms, Bush dismissed the offer. It seems as though the Bush administration wants unconditional war. They want to “win” something to show that the US can and will attack when it so desires, regardless of international opinion and UN resolutions.

The administration wants to try out their doctrine of pre-emption, as if they were playing a game of chess instead of gambling with the lives of tens of thousands Americans and countless innocent Iraqis. If pre-emption becomes a US doctrine, should the American people consider pre-emptive impeachment of Bush and his war-hungry cabinet to avoid wrongs they might commit in the future?

On NBC’s Meet the Press on September 15, Secretary Powell stated, “No sensible person wants to go to war if war can be avoided.” Perhaps he should say this next time he enters the White House. Perhaps he should advocate that the US will do everything in its power to avoid war, to avoid putting innocent people in pools of blood, to avoid allowing the US become an unstoppable war machine that creates suffering and turmoil around the world.

Let us be sensible humans and avoid war. It is practical and right. How many Guernicas must be painted before we realize the futility of violent action?

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