Dreams of peace historically float around the idea of superweapons, but so do dreams of omnipotence, not to speak of depths of revenge and hatred. Nuclear weapons, too, were supposed to be the weapons to end war, though more accurately, they were the weapons that would end war by threatening to end all human life on the planet. The distinction, it turns out, is a subtler one than we might imagine. But dropped in a spirit of revenge, they would prove the most addictive of weapons, opening to leaders everywhere alluring vistas of global power, ultimate destruction, and darkness. From the moment Little Boy left that bomb bay, no major power (and few regional powers) were going to be without such weapons forever — unless all of them were. As weaponry, they proved so strangely seductive and addictive that they burst the bounds of the Cold War effortlessly and have simply continued to multiply in our world.
Month: May 2005
Memo disputes Bush Iraq claims
A highly classified British memo, leaked during Britain’s just-concluded election campaign, claims President Bush decided by summer 2002 to overthrow Iraqi President Saddam Hussein and was determined to ensure that U.S. intelligence data supported his policy.
The memo, in which British foreign-policy aide Matthew Rycroft summarized a July 23, 2002, meeting of Prime Minister Tony Blair with top security advisers, reports on a U.S. visit by Richard Dearlove, then head of Britain’s MI-6 intelligence service.
See the full text of the memo here.
Should drug laws make exceptions for spiritual highs?
In a 2002 case that foreshadowed Uniao do Vegetal’s fight for the right to drink ayahuasca, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit suggested that RFRA might protect possession (but not distribution) of marijuana by Rastafarians. No doubt that possibility gives drug warriors nightmares in which everyone arrested on marijuana charges claims to consider the plant a sacrament.
In related news, Rastafarianism is the fastest growing religion in America, especially on college campuses…
The creation of NORTHCOM, as part of the “unified plan” in the wake of 9/11, established the military’s first domestic combatant command center. This precedent departs from a long-standing tradition of distinguishing between the responsibilities of the military and those of law enforcement. Since 1878, when Congress passed the Posse Comitatus Act in response to interference in elections by federal troops, an underlying assumption of U.S. democracy has been that soldiers should not act as police officers on American soil.
A Figleaf of Legality
Finally, there is the broad principle of proportionality. Force used against Iraq in service of the U.N. resolutions “must have as its objective the enforcement of the terms of the [Gulf War] cease-fire [i.e., Resolution 687],” needed to be limited to achieving that objective, and had to be proportional to “securing compliance with Iraq’s disarmament obligations.” In other words, Goldsmith explicitly noted, “regime change cannot be the objective of military action.”
George Bush sought a congressional resolution authorizing force and secured it on Oct. 10, 2002. That resolution explicitly restricted the use of force to compelling adherence with “relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions,” and continuing threats from Iraq. This was not a blanket declaration of war. The resolution’s contingent authority evaporates if its conditions are not met.
We now know that Saddam Hussein had no weapons of mass destruction and very little in the way of programs to develop them. That is why the weapons inspectors, quite rightly, were not going to report a material breach — the inspectors could find no evidence of weapons. Iraq was in compliance with the Gulf War resolutions and had not invaded anyone — hence no threat to international peace and security. Washington’s assertion otherwise remained crucial to cover an aggressive war with a fig leaf of legality. That fig leaf has now disappeared.
The Lesson of Sativex
Sativex, produced by GW Pharmaceuticals in Britain, brings the medical marijuana debate full circle. Though the technology has advanced in 70 years, this product is a direct descendent of the marijuana extracts and tinctures that were a standard part of the medical armamentarium until the late 1930s — universally recognized as being safe and effective for certain conditions. These products were taken away from patients and doctors as a result of the prohibition on marijuana that began in 1937, despite the public opposition of the American Medical Association.
Conservatives Love ‘South Park’
A USA Today poll a week later found that Americans by 55 to 40 percent believe that “Republicans, traditionally the party of limited government, are ‘trying to use the federal government to interfere with the private lives of most Americans’ on moral values.” In other words, what Hillary Clinton’s overreaching big-government health care plan did to the Democrats a decade ago is the whammy the Schiavo case has inflicted on the G.O.P. today.