Harvard Square Observer:
President Bush, Father of North Korean Atomic Weapon

Ernest Cassara

Perhaps a provocative heading, but, true nonetheless.  I have read, and listened to, dozens of pundits in the last week, and not heard one mention that North Korea’s actions were prompted by threats by the Bush administration.  Not one pundit mentioned that the president linked North Korea with Iraq and Iran as the “Axis of Evil.”  Not one pundit remembered it, but, the North Koreans did.

North Koreans could not help but notice that Mr. Bush struck one member of the imaginary “axis,” and it was just a matter of time before he could get around to them.

Of course, the U.S. administration’s excuse is that it is bringing “democracy” to Iraq.  Those of us who are old enough to remember World War II will recall that Nazi Germany set up dummy administrations in the territories it conquered, one hapless fellow’s name christening the action for all time: “Quisling.”  Vidkun Abraham Lauritz Jonssøn Quisling. His payment for service was an allied firing squad, when the Nazis were defeated.

Then, there was the Nazi regime set up in defeated France.  Marshall Henri-Phillipe Pétain’s government was in Vichy, which has never lived down the very doubtful honor.

What the supposedly democratic government of Iraq, set up at the point of an American gun, will be called only future historians will determine.  Whatever it is called, any rational person cannot escape the fact that it was set up by a foreign power.

Now, having gotten more than he contended for in Iraq, the president, at his press conference of 15 October, called for “negotiations” with North Korea.  No longer bragging that he is a “war time president.” No preemptive strike against North Korea, with it guns aimed at the American forces still in South Korea.  Has a bit of sanity set in, or have our generals pointed out certain difficulties with carrying on another war half a world away in the other direction?

Now, the latest unpleasant news to confront President Bush: “Johns Hopkins Study Cites 655,000 Iraqi Deaths Since US Invasion in 2003.”

Of course, he attempted to deny it.

If the above is not bad enough, consider the disgraceful action of the U.S. Congress.  The following was sent by Amnesty International:

US Congress gives green light to human rights violations in the 'war on terror'

By passing the Military Commissions Act, the US Congress has given its stamp of approval to human rights violations committed by the USA in the "war on terror", and has turned bad executive policy into bad domestic law.

Amnesty International had repeatedly called for the Military Commissions Act to be rejected in its entirety and will campaign for the repeal of the bill if President Bush signs it as expected. The organization fully expects the constitutionality of this legislation to be challenged in the courts.

In the "war on terror", the US administration has resorted to secret detention, enforced disappearance, prolonged incommunicado detention, indefinite detention without charge, arbitrary detention, and torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.

Thousands of detainees remain in indefinite military detention in US custody in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantánamo Bay. Congress has failed these detainees and their families.

The Military Commissions Act contravenes human rights principles.

What you need to know about the Military Commissions Act

Among other things, the Act will:

Strip the US courts of jurisdiction to hear or consider habeas corpus appeals challenging the lawfulness or conditions of detention of anyone held in US custody as an "enemy combatant". Judicial review of cases would be severely limited. The law would apply retroactively, and thus could result in more than 200 pending appeals filed on behalf of Guantánamo detainees being thrown out of court.

Permit the executive to convene military commissions to try "alien unlawful enemy combatants", as determined by the executive under a dangerously broad definition, in trials that would provide foreign nationals so labeled with a lower standard of justice than US citizens accused of the same crimes. This would violate the prohibition on the discriminatory application of fair trial rights.

Permit the use in military commission trials of evidence extracted under cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Give the military commissions the power to hand down death sentences after trials that did not meet international standards.

Permit the executive to determine who is an "enemy combatant" under any "competent tribunal" established by the executive, and endorse the Combatant Status Review Tribunal (CSRT), the wholly inadequate administrative procedure that has been employed in Guantánamo to review individual detentions.

Prohibit any person from invoking the Geneva Conventions or their protocols as a source of rights in any action in any US court.

Narrow the scope of the War Crimes Act by not expressly criminalizing acts that constitute "outrages upon personal dignity, particularly humiliating and degrading treatment" banned under international law. Amnesty International believes that the USA has routinely failed to respect the human dignity of detainees in the "war on terror".

Endorse the administration’s "war paradigm"? under which the USA has selectively applied the laws of war and rejected international human rights law. The legislation would backdate the "war on terror" to before the 11 September 2001 in order to be able to try individuals in front of military commissions for "war crimes" committed before that date.

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Harvard Square Commentary, October 16, 2006