JOHN Owens’ attempt to justify war with Iraq (CL 16/2/03) does not stand up to critical examination.
The article’s most worrying example, superficial reasoning, is the quotation of John Howard’s statement that ‘… if the US was just interested in oil – and not in morality – it would simply buy it from Saddam’. Surely it is obvious that the powers that control the US Government are far less interested in Iraqi oil as a commodity than as a source of international power.
Added to the percentage of the world’s oil already controlled by the US, Iraq’s 54 per cent would give those who controlled it virtual control of OPEC and thus economic domination of the world. And that is very much in accord with the doctrine of ‘manifest destiny’ which has been implicit to a substantial degree in US political thinking for the better part of two centuries.
First mooted in an influential New York magazine in 1845, ‘manifest destiny’ claimed that the US was destined to rule over the continents of the Americas, which included everything from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. In the euphoria which followed the war with Mexico and the subsequent annexation of California, New Mexico and Texas, further expansion became very attractive and ‘manifest destiny’ was extended to include the Pacific Ocean. The war with Spain and subsequent takeover of Cuba, the Philippines and eventually Hawaii followed.
‘Manifest destiny’ is very much alive and well and, having now made world domination an attractive possibility, will most likely be the guiding factor behind North American foreign policy in the foreseeable future. That is why US control of Iraqi oil is essential.
Throughout his article Mr Owens tends to rely on the specious claim that the end justifies the means. Particularly in quoting the criteria for a just war, he argues from allegation to conclusion while offering no hard evidence to justify those conclusions. This is the same political ploy employed by Bush and his allies.
We need to remember that around three decades ago US intelligence boasted that their spy satellites were so good that it was possible to read the headlines on a newspaper in a Moscow street. Yet, despite claims that the Iraqi military are playing hide and seek with weapons of mass destruction by moving them around the desert, no real evidence of this has ever been produced. Nor have the weapons inspectors, even with the assistance and advice of US and British intelligence and the reports from constant flyovers of Iraqi territory by both countries, found any such weapons. If such evidence exists, as is constantly claimed, satellite imagery could lead the inspectors direct to the present sites.
Mr Owens quotes the writings of St Augustine to justify his support of a ‘just war’.
There is no doubt that Augustine was a brilliant and able man but that hardly excuses him from adding qualifying clauses to a commandment handed down by God in just four words, ‘Thou shalt not kill’, and quoted by Jesus in those same four words (Mt 19:18). No semantic juggling nor claims of translation inaccuracies can affect the impact of those words.
Christians are followers of Christ, not of Augustine.
As Paul asked the Corinthians, who were claiming, some to follow Paul, some Apollos and some Peter, was it Paul who was crucified for them or in whose name they had been baptised? There is no doubt that Paul would have included the name of Augustine with the others if the occasion had arisen.
There is no such thing as a just war. True Christianity allows no compromise on that. Even if it could be justified it can never accomplish anything other than to leave one side better off economically, but morality, like truth, is inevitably one of the first casualties and that applies to both combatants.
I too, like Mr Owens, have been an army officer and an infantryman and have seen my share of war and I know.
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