parallels are troubling. In the dock at Nuremberg, did
Hermann Gφring not plead that concentration camps were
necessary in order to preserve order and stability? Did he
not say, "It was a question of removing danger"? Gφring also
shed disturbing light upon the political tricks that
demented shepherds use to frighten their flocks into the
false belief they need more laws, services and protection.
During his trial, he mused to an interviewer "Why, of
course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob
on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that
he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one
piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither
in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter
in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the
leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is
always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it
is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or
a communist dictatorship" (see Gustave Gilbert, Nuremberg
Diary, DaCapo Press, 1995).
A Grave Responsibility Mocked and a
Desperate Effort Repudiated
Today, more than three years after the Anglo-American
invasion of Iraq and overthrow of Saddam Hussein, many
Westerners have mostly forgotten (if, indeed, they ever knew
them) the transgressions of this war, the 1990-1991 war and
the many others that preceded them. They don't "invert"
that is, see things from others' points of view because,
by and large, they have convinced themselves that their
rulers are right and just and others are wrong and crazed.
Hence it never occurs to them that their politicians, in
their name, commit war crimes; and they respond with
indifference, denial or even hostility to the proposition
that today's crop of Western politicians, like their
predecessors at Versailles, are creating conditions under
which extremists thrive.
Since 2003, much
mainstream coverage and commentary about the second war
against Iraq has focussed first upon the failure to send
sufficient troops to pacify the country; and then upon the
decision to disband Saddam's army without training a new
one; and more recently upon the failure to crush the
insurgency and foresee the appalling communal violence; and
now upon the highhandedness, cruelty and utter pointlessness
of the occupation. But little analysis has pondered the
legal questions arising from this and previous aggressions.
The UN's Secretary-General has put his view in an unusually
blunt fashion. In September 2004, Kofi Annan told the BBC:
"the US-led invasion of Iraq was an illegal act that
contravened the UN Charter."
If so, then the question
arises: should Anglo-American politicians and their top
civilian and military aides be prosecuted for their repeated
violations over the years of the very laws promulgated in
order to punish Nazis after the Second World War? Do the
precedents established at Nuremberg apply to American and
British officials? Or are they somehow immune from the laws
that their predecessors invoked? If not, why shouldn't Bush,
Blair, Howard and their inner circle be tried for the many
deaths and untold misery their policies have caused?
If, on the same basis the
Big Four employed to try Nazis at Nuremberg, the leading
members of the American, Australian and British governments
and armed forces were tried for actions taken in Iraq,
Afghanistan and elsewhere in recent years, they might well
be convicted (see Anwaar Hussein, "Dust
Off the Nuremberg Files;" Michael Mandel, "Nuremberg
Lesson for Iraq War: It's Murder;" and Michael Gaddy, "The
Ghosts of Nuremberg"). In his Opening Address at the
Nuremberg Trials, delivered in November 1946, Justice Robert
Jackson of the U.S. Supreme Court began with these words:
"The privilege of opening the first trial in history for
crimes against the peace of the world imposes a grave
responsibility." Alas, during the intervening years, Western
politicians have mocked and debased this responsibility to
such an extent that Nuremberg principles are today little
more than rhetorical devices uttered on ceremonial
occasions. So the Three Amigos need not worry. Apparently,
these principles apply only to captured thugs from Balkan or
Third World countries.
Yet reading the
transcript of the first Nuremberg trial, it is clear that
all who were accused of crimes, from the humblest foot
soldier to the highest and mightiest civilian and military
leader, were considered responsible for their actions. In
particular, the leaders and henchmen who initiated
aggression were assigned primary criminal responsibility.
None of the subsequent crimes would have been committed if
the primary aggression that is, the crime against peace
had not occurred. On 12 August 1945, Justice Jackson stated
the objective of the American prosecution: "If we can
cultivate in the world the idea that aggressive war-making
is the way to the prisoner's dock rather than the way to
honours, we will have accomplished something toward making
the peace more secure.
We must make clear to the Germans
that the wrong for which their fallen leaders are on trial
is not that they lost the war, but that they started it."
subsequent statements concerning the Nazi leadership in the
dock goes to the heart of the matter: "These defendants were
men of a station and rank which does not soil its own hands
with blood. They were men who knew how to use lesser folk as
tools. We want to reach the planners and designers, the
inciters and leaders without whose evil architecture the
world would not have been for so long scourged with the
violence and lawlessness, and wracked with the agonies and
convulsions, of this terrible war.
We have here the
surviving top politicians, militarists, financiers,
diplomats, administrators and propagandists of the Nazi
movement. Who was responsible for these crimes if they were
On 1 October 1946, the
Nuremberg Tribunal delivered its judgement. Three Amigos,
are you listening? "To initiate a war of aggression is not
only an international crime; it is the supreme international
crime differing only from other war crimes in that it
contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole
Crimes against international law are committed by men, not
by abstract entities; and only by punishing individuals who
commit such crimes can the provisions of international law
be enforced." Had Bush, Blair and Howard not unleashed their
aggression, then tens of thousands of Iraqi civilians,
thousands of American and hundreds of British and other
military personnel would be alive today. Hence Justice
Jackson's last sentence of his closing statement applies to
contemporary Anglo-American leaders as much as it did to the
Germans on trial at the time: "If you were to say of these
men that they are not guilty, it would be as true to say
that there has been no war, there are no slain, there has
been no crime."
Justice Jackson's words
thus prompt one to wonder: how would he assess the legal
basis of the Three Amigos' decision to wage war?
Neoconservatives would do well to remember his injunction:
"Our position is that whatever grievances a nation may have,
however objectionable it finds the status quo, aggressive
warfare is an illegal means for settling these grievances or
for altering these conditions." And those who cannot
visualise American, Australian and British defendants in a
war crimes trial should also ponder Justice Jackson's words:
"Let me make clear that while this law is first applied
against German aggressors, the law includes, and if it is to
serve a useful purpose it must condemn, aggression by any
other nations, including those which sit here now in
This trial represents mankind's desperate effort
to apply the discipline of the law to statesmen who have
used their powers of state to attack the foundations of the
world's peace and to commit aggression against the rights of
Sixty years later, it is
clear that this desperate effort has failed. Ignore their
babble: the Three Amigos are above any law and accountable
to nobody. How on earth can this be? How can it be otherwise?
The "leaders" of welfare-warfare states are nothing more
than, and have never been anything more than, the heads of
criminal gangs (see Murray Rothbard, The Ethics of
Liberty, New York University Press, 1998). They are not
protectors: they are predators. Further, major political
parties (Liberal-National coalition versus Labor in
Australia, Labour v. Conservative in Britain, etc.) are not
separate entities that offer distinct policies; instead,
they are simply wings of a single welfare-warfare party.
They are, to use Butler Schaffer's apt analogy, wings of the
same bird of prey. Those who have yet to encounter much
less absorb this self-evident truth cling ferociously to
the fairy tale of the benevolent state. Accordingly,
confronted with the logic and evidence that some of their "statesmen"
are better described as war criminals, they reply either
with denial or vitriol.
Contempt of Criminality and
Obedience to God
In the world of business, finance and investments, Charles
Munger constantly asks what can and likely will go awry.
Applied to rulers and their policies of welfare and warfare,
the rule is: whether at home or abroad, the intervention of
the state creates unintended consequences; and these
consequences inevitably worsen the very problems that the
interventions allegedly sought to resolve. What, then, to
do? A first step is to disengage. In the absence of
compelling reasons to the contrary, regard anything uttered
by any politician and certainly any Anglo-American
politician as an evasion, distortion, delusion or outright
fabrication. Don't believe them when they assert, in effect,
that they can wave a magic wand and give you something (be
it "security" or "quality healthcare" or "affordable
childcare" or low interest rates or cheap petrol) for
nothing. And ignore their vilifications of people in far-away
places: if you have no reason to meddle there, then what
grounds have your rulers?
Why can't you believe the
priests of the welfare-warfare caste? Jim Henley, in his
blog Unqualified Offerings (3 February 2003), answers
this question tartly:
Because they lie. Routinely and often and deliberately.
They said there were 100,000 people in mass graves in
That was a lie. They said Iraqi soldiers were
tossing babies out of incubators.
That was a lie. They said Iraqi troops in 1991 were
massing on the Saudi border.
That was a lie. They said Saddam's attack on Kuwait
was a total surprise.
That was a lie. They said US
troops had no combat role in Central America in the
That was a lie.
Right through the Gulf
War, I believed that sh**. By the time of Kosovo, I knew
better. I'm 42 years old, I knew the Middle East existed
before September 11, 2001, and if today's bunch sounds
like a lot of previous bunches that turned out to be
full of crap, my conclusion is that this bunch is full
of crap too.
Today, neoconservative politicians scream that Hezbollah,
Syria and Iran are "threats to Western security." These
assertions, too, are bald-faced lies (see, for example,
Justin Raimondo, "The
Lying Game Revisited"). Another is that "they hate us
for what we are." The truth is that the victims of
interventionism hate Western politicians' relentless
aggression, and the death and destruction that it invariably
generates. It is flatly wrong, in other words, to insist
that suicide attacks at Bali, London, Madrid, New York and
Washington, etc., have been conducted by "Islamo-fascists"
engaged in a religious onslaught against the secular West (see
in particular "Our
Fascism, and Theirs" by Justin Raimondo). Instead,
"suicide-terrorist attacks are not so much driven by
religion as by a clear strategic objective: to compel modern
democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory
that the terrorists view as their homeland. From Lebanon to
Sri Lanka to Chechnya to Kashmir to the West Bank, every
major suicide terrorist campaign over 95% of all incidents
has had as its central objective to compel a democratic
state to withdraw" (see Robert Pape, Dying to Win: The
Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism, Random House,
2005). Suicide attacks, in short, are not a consequence of
religious extremism: they are a response to political
extremism namely Western aggression and interventionism.
Suicide attacks occur over here because our politicians
meddle so brutally over there.
The good news, in Pape's
words, is that "The history of the last 20 years shows that
once the [occupation forces] withdraw from the homeland of
the terrorists, [the suicide attacks] often stop and stop
on a dime." If so, then the bad news is that the more our
politicians intervene over there, the more the suicide
bombers will retaliate over here. The Three Amigos' alleged
cure for terrorism is actually a cause of terrorism. Memo to
politicians: Do you truly want to prevent suicide bombings?
Then stop the aggression and invasions, withdraw the troops
and renounce interventionism (see also Patrick Buchanan, "Why
Are They Killing Us?").
The truth is that today's
neoconservative lies are simply the latest in a long series
of statist lies. Anglo-American politicians have repeatedly
manipulated their subjects into war. These wars created
unintended consequences; and the next batch of politicians
treated these consequences with more interventions, more
deceptions and more war. Woodrow Wilson, for example, lied
America into the Great War (see Thomas Fleming, The
Illusion of Victory: America in World War I, Basic
Books, 2003); and Wilson's war, which he glorified as "The
War to Make the World Safe for Democracy," became, in terms
of its effects, "The War That Made the World Safe for
Fascism." Similarly, Franklin Roosevelt bamboozled America
into the Second World War (see Thomas Fleming, The New
Dealers' War: FDR and the War Within World War II, Basic
Books). FDR's war, allegedly fought to defend and promote
The Four Freedoms, became "The War That Made the World
Safe for Communism." And so too the Bushies: they have lied
repeatedly and shamelessly about Afghanistan and Iraq, and
it appears that their aggressions will become known as "The
Wars That Made the World Safe for Christian, Jewish and
London's Lord Mayor, "Red"
Ken Livingston, one of the few politicians who seems to know
that there are no traffic problems, only insufficiently
clearly specified property rights, offered
words when asked what motivated the attacks in New York,
Washington, London and elsewhere:
I think you've just had 80 years of Western intervention
into predominantly Arab lands
We've propped up
unsavoury governments, we've overthrown ones we didn't
consider sympathetic. And I think the particular problem
we have at the moment is that in the 1980s
Americans recruited and trained Osama Bin Laden, taught
him how to kill, to make bombs, and set him off to kill
the Russians and drive them out of Afghanistan. They
didn't give any thought to the fact that once he'd done
that he might turn on his creators
If at the end of
the First World War we had done what we promised the
Arabs, which was to let them be free and have their own
governments, and kept out of Arab affairs, and just
bought their oil, rather than feeling we had to control
the flow of oil, I suspect [attacks by Muslim extremists
in retaliation against the attacks of Western extremists]
wouldn't have arisen.
What to do? Secondly, respect history. That is, understand
the course of events that has produced this sorry juncture,
and extrapolate where the actions that have created it, if
they continue, will lead. For the past century, America's
foreign relations can best be characterised as a series of
subterfuges for empire-building (see in particular Ivan
Eland, The Empire Has No Clothes, The Independent
Institute, 2004); and for the past half-century, the foreign
relations of countries like Australia, Britain and Canada
have comprised little more than the running of fools'
errands for Uncle Sam. The trouble with meddling in foreign
lands, in addition to the misery, death and destruction it
wreaks upon its victims, is that it extinguishes liberty at
home. And the trouble with overt imperialism is epitomised
in a question that preoccupied Thucydides and Livy, absorbed
America's Founders and will likely overwhelm today's
political caste in Washington: when does empire corrupt and
bankrupt a once-great republic beyond the point of no
return? (See also Laurence Kotlikoff's must-read "Is
the United States Bankrupt?").
The point for foreigners
is that Anglo-American politicians have no right to dictate
to the world and remake it in their image. The point for
Americans is that by dictating to the world they cease to be
the Americans in the sense that Thomas Jefferson understood
that term (and Benjamin Franklin rightly feared would
disappear within a century). For Americans and non-Americans
alike, the extinction of Jeffersonian America is a sad loss
(see also "Bizarro
Conservatism" by Justin Raimondo).
policies, in short, breed war; and war spawns more
interventionism. War, as
Bourne famously put it, "is the health of the state."
Accordingly, to be pro-war is to promote big government.
Given this insight, what will the "war on terror" achieve?
Much killing, vast destruction of property and liberty, and
growing hatred: it will, in other words, benefit rulers and
harm the ruled. Grieving the death of his only son during
the war to end all wars, in 1919 Rudyard Kipling wrote "if
any question why we died, tell them because our fathers
lied." The same point applies to the Americans, Australians,
Britons, Canadians, Dutch and others mired pointlessly in
Iraq and Afghanistan.
Genuine, enduring peace
will not come until Western and particularly Anglo-American
politicians abandon what they arrogantly believe is their
birthright the treatment of the Arab and Muslim world like
a pawn on a chessboard, drawing its boundaries, making and
breaking incompatible promises, occasionally invading it and
constantly meddling in its affairs, and establishing and
supporting puppets that oppress local populations. At
various points during the twentieth century, perhaps at
Versailles and during the 1920s, Western politicians did
little that mitigated and much that encouraged the rise
of extremism. Today, they are doing exactly the same thing.
A just peace can come only if politicians stop creating a
state of affairs in which extremists thrive. Given their
past and present form, a long time will pass before they
come to their senses. In the mean time, countries like
Australia, Britain and Canada should indeed adhere strictly
to a staunchly pro-American policy. But it must be "pro-American"
in the proper historical sense of that term one, alas,
that is alien to the best and brightest in Canberra, Ottawa
and Westminster. As Amir Butler expresses it in an
outstanding article, "Australia
Must Follow Washington" George Washington, that is.
What to do? Thirdly and
above all, Christians must abandon their moral relativism (whereby
it's OK when Christians kill Muslims over there, but it's
not OK if Muslims kill Christians over here) and worship of
and craven submission to the state. They must recognise the
strict limits of their duty towards the state (see in
particular David Lipscomb's
Civil Government: Its Origin, Mission, and Destiny, and the
Christian's Relation to It, Michael Rozeff's "Christians
and Libertarians," Teresa Whitehurst's "Why
Are Some American Christians So Bloodthirsty?" and
Leithner Letter 59). Lipscomb presents a biblical view
of a voluntary society. He refutes the fantasy that
governments are created for "the public good," and he
demonstrates that peace, progress and civilisation do not
and cannot depend upon the state. If Christians participate
in politics, they necessarily mock the Ten Commandments.
Instead, they should persuade people to renounce the use of
force in all its forms, including taxation embrace God
and emulate the Carpenter of Nazareth.
Christians should pray
that their earthly rulers rule justly. But they should not
glorify them, and still less should they bomb and kill for
them. What happens when Christians turn their backs to God
and embrace Caesar? Consider the words from 1 Samuel
This is what the king who will reign over you will do:
He will take your sons and make them serve with his
chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his
chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of
thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to
plough his ground and reap his harvest, and still others
to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots.
He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks
and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and
vineyards and olive groves and give them to his
attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of
your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants.
Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your
cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will
take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will
become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out
for relief from the king you have chosen, and the Lord
will not answer you in that day.