Cruise Missiles as Political Therapy

Once again, in the June bombing of Iraq, the U.S. president and military have engaged in state terrorism for political therapy, bombing the capital city of another nation and leaving wreckage, eight dead, and still undetermined numbers of injured, demolishing both official buildings and homes of civilians.

Among the dead is Layla al-Attar, a celebrated artist and director of Baghdad's Center for the Arts, her husband, and a housekeeper. The mainstream media obediently praised the bombing, assuring the American public that it "packed a message." What message was being sent and to whom?

The deed that justified this carnage was an alleged plot to kill President Bush--which the Iraqi ambassador to the United Nations insists is a fabrication by the Kuwaitis to cause the United States to retaliate against Iraq. But regardless of whether or not the plot was real, this unilateral strike without consultation of the United Nations is a reversion to a Cold War mentality.

Such action undercuts the effort to honor an international rule of law. In doing that, the United States--acting as judge, jury, and executioner--pre-empts a trial in a case where the accused have not yet been judged guilty. If there is to be any meaning to the "new world order," a starting point must be a concert of nations working together under agreed-upon principles--not unilateral vigilantism.

And imagine our outrage if other countries acted in like manner. If, say, the Royal Air Force bombed Buenos Aires for an alleged plot against Maggie Thatcher, the world would rightly condemn the strike as illegitimate and even criminal behavior.

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Sojourners Magazine September-October 1993
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