November 5, 2007: This website is an archive of the former website, traprockpeace.org, which was created 10 years ago by Charles Jenks. It became one of the most populace sites in the US, and an important resource on the antiwar movement, student activism, 'depleted' uranium and other topics. Jenks authored virtually all of its web pages and multimedia content (photographs, audio, video, and pdf files. As the author and registered owner of that site, his purpose here is to preserve an important slice of the history of the grassroots peace movement in the US over the past decade. He is maintaining this historical archive as a service to the greater peace movement, and to the many friends of Traprock Peace Center. Blogs have been consolidated and the calendar has been archived for security reasons; all other links remain the same, and virtually all blog content remains intact.THIS SITE NO LONGER REFLECTS THE CURRENT AND ONGOING WORK OF TRAPROCK PEACE CENTER, which has reorganized its board and moved to Greenfield, Mass. To contact Traprock Peace Center, call 413-773-7427 or visit its site. Charles Jenks is posting new material to PeaceJournal.org, a multimedia blog and resource center.
July 7, 2002
An Open Letter to Senator John F. Kerry (D-MA)
Fax Number: (202) 224-8525
We Need Senate Hearings on Plans to Invade Iraq.
Senator John F. Kerry
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Dear Senator Kerry:
Why am I writing to you at 7:30 am on a Sunday morning? I couldnt sleep last night our Democracy is being hijacked under our noses as we are planning to invade Iraq. Daniel Schorr said yesterday on NPR that it isnt a question of whether we invade; its a matter of when and how. Scott Ritter, former UN chief weapons inspector in Iraq, said the same thing in April at an event sponsored by Traprock Peace Center and Greenfield Community College.
The administration says as though its a fact that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction. Mr. Ritter says that Iraq was disarmed when he resigned under protest. He also reports that administration officials told him in a meeting to provoke a dispute over inspections before the Muslim high holy days so that bombing could commence by then. UN inspectors - under directions from the US state department were told to abandon the inspections protocols that had been agreed to with Iraq over the inspection of politically sensitive sites, such as its internal security offices. The Iraqis refused to comply with last minute, unilateral changes being imposed on them by the inspectors. It seems to me that these changes were for political ends, namely for the Clinton administration to get an excuse to bomb Iraq. Mr. Ritter has also debunked another mantra of the US government, namely that Iraq kicked the weapons inspectors out of Iraq. Not true, reminds Ritter. The UN, acting under the virtual direction of the US, pulled the inspectors out just before the US starting bombing Iraq.
Why are the Iraqi people being singled out for war? I say the Iraqi people because it is they would suffer. Millions of Iraqis have died as a combined result of US imposed economic sanctions and bombing. Apparently the sanctions have been a failure if Saddam Hussein has not only been able to solidify his hold but has also become a threat of the highest magnitude against the US. The fact is - Iraq has been driven down to the lowest levels by sanctions. Its child death rates have risen from levels found in highly developed countries to levels found in the poorest of countries. We have kept sufficient medical supplies and food from reaching Iraq since the Gulf war, this after destroying their civilian infrastructure, such as their water treatment plans. Denis Halliday, former head of the UN Food for Peace program in Iraq, resigned because the program was not working. In fact, it was being kept from working, not by Iraq but by the program itself. He said Iraq government had a fair food distribution program, Furthermore, sanctions have prohibited the importation of equipment needed to repair infrastructure out of an expressed concern that the equipment has a dual use and could be used for military purposes. Better to let children die of disease than risk Saddam Hussein getting his hands on water treatment parts. I recently donated money to the American Friends Service Committee, which is trying to raise funds to repair a water treatment plant. I may have violated the law by doing so.
There is no question that Saddam Hussein is a murderous scoundrel. Even with that the case, why invade Iraq? Have there been any connections found between him and al-Qaida? After all the searches that the US has done of terrorist hideouts and hard drives, where is the evidence that he was involved in the 9/11 attacks or that he is planning or supporting new attacks? Yes, he did offer to compensate relatives of suicide bombers in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, but so did our so-called allies, the Saudis.
If the justification is his having weapons of mass destruction, there is scant evidence of that, to my knowledge. According to Ritter, he was effectively disarmed, both in terms of the weapons themselves and his ability to create new such weapons. Where is the evidence that he has such weapons now?
Even assuming, for the sake of argument, that he does have some capacity to use weapons of mass destruction, his use of any directly or through proxies - would certainly lead to his immediate destruction. The US would surely not be left acting alone if he did that. So why would he do it? Evil does not equal crazy.
Were left with the fact the he is a murderous scoundrel. He used chemical weapons against his own people (we knew this while he was still considered a useful ally of the US). The US, meanwhile, has used tons of depleted uranium munitions in Iraq, the Balkans and now in Afghanistan. Seems to me that depleted uranium, radioactive and dangerous to ingest, is a chemical. Spoiling the countrysides of these nations surely impacts civilians. Well, what about biological? The anthrax that was spread through the US mails came, at its source, from US labs, which have refined ways for Anthrax to spread through the air. Iraq was far from having any such capability, according to Ritter. And where is the evidence that they do now? Nuclear? Which is the only country to have used nuclear weapons? Remember the fire bombing of Dresden? Can we forget Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Which country, through its recent Nuclear Posture Review, has indicated a willingness to attack non-nuclear countries with nuclear weapons?
Hussein is a dictator who has crushed dissent and ethnic minorities. At the same time, before the Gulf War, the Iraqi people had free high quality health care. The government also highly subsidized higher education. Women exercised their rights, at a level rivaling Western countries. Our allies in Saudi Arabia keep women down as strongly as did the Taliban. Lets face it. The US government makes friends with governments that can supply cheap goods or cheap oil in order to satisfy the American appetite for lots of cheap stuff and unfettered mobility. China is a case in point. It continues to oppress Tibet and it too has slaughtered it own people. But it is a huge exporter of cheap goods to the US, given its large supply of ultra-cheap labor.
So again, what arguments are left? Well, hes evil part of the evil triangle. Surely Iran and North Korea are figuring theyre next. Let me ask you. Was it evil to kill thousands of civilians in the bombing of Afghanistan? As horrified as I was by the wedding bombing, I was not surprised. Conservative estimates place the civilian death toll at over 3000 people. These people died directly from the US bomb blasts. Were not talking about people who died because the food caravans were disrupted, or who died in hospitals after we bombed the electric plants. For documentation of the deaths by bombing, I refer you to Professor Marc Herold, Ph.D., of the University of New Hampshire. http://grassrootspeace.org/AfghanDetails.html links to his data base and articles. Connie Chow, Ph.D., a lecturer at UMASS/Boston, has gone to Afghanistan and witnessed herself the devastation caused by the US bombing.
The US administration claims that it has not targeted civilians. But we have dropped big bombs in areas where civilians live. We know that these bombs are not always accurate. Accuracy is relative, of course. The bombs have a kill radius and an expected accuracy within a certain radius. Add up the kill radius and the area of accuracy and you will expect to kill many people during a bombing campaign when the targets are in cities or villages. Plus, there are those inevitable occasions when the bomb is off target and more than expected collateral damage occurs. You know these things, being a distinguished US military veteran.
You are a lawyer, as am I. Remember the hypotheticals given in law school about what constitutes the forms of homicide? Do you remember the example of the person who shoots into a passing train, not actually aiming at a particular person? That person knew or should have known that there was a likelihood of hitting a passenger with the bullet. That person was used to illustrate the concept of the depraved of heart. One can be convicted for killing a person under such circumstances. Depraved heart is called the highest form of malice in Blacks law dictionary. The administration talks about evil. Does it take a depraved heart to drop bombs knowing that the bombs, over the course of the campaign, will surely kill many civilians? Lets suppose a police officer had justification to shoot at a criminal. Could the officer shoot into a crowd of people, knowing that he would kill everyone within a certain area, because he thought that the suspect was there? If the answer is yes, then perhaps the police could start carrying hand grenades with them.
I can only conclude that the US administration is touting this war for none of its stated reasons and that it is extremely hypocritical. Senate hearings are necessary. This is not an emergency response in a crisis. Rather, the administration is planning for invasion and building up forces in the Gulf area. Where is Congress?
Why are we going to war? Does Iraq have weapons of mass destruction? Where is the proof? If they do, is war the only answer? If we have a war, what good would it do? What harm would it do? Simple questions, big answers. These questions need answers before we go marching off to war without the advice and consent of Congress. You, as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, can call for Senate Hearings. If you want more information before taking that step, please meet personally with Scott Ritter. Delegates from Traprock Peace Center eagerly await an appointment to meet with you. I also refer you to Marc Herold and Connie Chow.
Sincerely,Charles W. Jenks
President, Traprock Peace Center