Outposts of Tyranny

Well, on the eve of Bush’s second inaugural, we finally got some good news about Operation Iraqi Freedom, already the worst foreign policy disaster – and potentially the worst military disaster – in America’s history.

Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said he was encouraged because "since June 1, there have been more Iraqi police and military killed in action than Americans."

More than 550 Americans – including many reservists and national guardsmen – have been killed in Iraq since June 1, 2004.

Wait a minute. National guardsmen killed in Iraq?

How did that happen? Until the president or Congress declares a National Emergency, the president has no authority over National Guard units or the guardsmen, themselves. Governors do, but not the president.

On September 14, 2001 president Bush did issue a "Declaration of National Emergency by Reason of Certain Terrorist Attacks," on the World Trade Center, and the Pentagon, and "the continuing and immediate threat of further attacks on the United States."

On the same day, citing that Declaration, Bush issued an Executive Order "Ordering the Ready Reserve of the Armed Forces to Active Duty."

On the basis of that Declaration and that Executive Order, a Ready Reservist might have expected to serve for up to two years in some stateside capacity, attempting to prevent another attack. She could hardly have expected to find herself participating in a war of aggression against Iraq, or serving, under siege, as a member of the US army of occupation in Iraq.

Furthermore, that Executive Order makes no mention of the National Guard.

Bush has, nevertheless, misused that Declaration and Executive order to justify the federalization of the National Guard and the dispatch of National Guard and Ready Reserve units to fight in Iraq.

By law, the constitutional powers of the president to “introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities” are limited, and can only be exercised “pursuant to; (a) a declaration of war, (b) specific statutory authorization, or (c) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”

When Bush went to Congress in September 2002, seeking “specific statutory authorization” to invade Iraq, he based his case on a just completed highly-classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which supposedly contained positive proof that Saddam was reconstructing his nuke and chem-bio programs, with the intention of supplying them to Islamic terrorists for use against us.

Hence, Bush tried to justify a pre-emptive invasion of Iraq as necessary to confront the "immediate threat" of further attacks on the US by Saddam-backed terrorists.

Of course, practically everyone in Congress knew that Bush intended to invade Iraq irrespective of what Saddam had done, was doing, or intended to do. Almost everyone knew that Iran was next on Bush’s hit-list. Or Syria. Or perhaps North Korea.

Senator Robert Byrd [D, WV] was one of the few who tried to stop Bush. In the Senate on February 12, 2003, Byrd had this to say :

“This nation is about to embark upon the first test of a revolutionary doctrine applied in an extraordinary way at an unfortunate time.

“The doctrine of preemption – the idea that the United States or any other nation can legitimately attack a nation that is not imminently threatening but may be threatening in the future – is a radical new twist on the traditional idea of self-defense.

“It appears to be in contravention of international law and the UN Charter.

“And it is being tested at a time of worldwide terrorism, making many countries around the globe wonder if they will soon be on our – or some other nation’s – hit list."

Nevertheless, on March 20, 2003, Bush determined that no “further diplomatic or other peaceful means will adequately protect the national security of the United States from the continuing threat posed by Iraq.”

So, Bush – misusing his Constitutional and Congressional authorities, his own Declaration and his own Executive Order – introduced the Armed Forces of the United States into hostilities in Iraq.

But, whoa. It turned out that Saddam didn’t have nukes or chem-bio weapons and didn’t support terrorism against us. So, why was he such a threat to us?

Well, according to Bush, Saddam was a threat to us because he was a tyrant.

So, where will Bush next preemptively introduce our Armed Forces?

According to Bush’s new Secretary of State, the candidates – the six "outposts of tyranny" – are Cuba, Burma, North Korea, Iran, Belarus, and Zimbabwe.

The smart money is on Iran.

Read more by Gordon Prather

Author: Gordon Prather

Physicist James Gordon Prather has served as a policy implementing official for national security-related technical matters in the Federal Energy Agency, the Energy Research and Development Administration, the Department of Energy, the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the Department of the Army. Dr. Prather also served as legislative assistant for national security affairs to U.S. Sen. Henry Bellmon, R-Okla. -- ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee and member of the Senate Energy Committee and Appropriations Committee. Dr. Prather had earlier worked as a nuclear weapons physicist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in California and Sandia National Laboratory in New Mexico.