Weapons of Mass Delusion
It now appears to be a foregone conclusion that no weapons of mass destruction (I hate that phrase) will be found in Iraq. I feel no joy however in being able to say “I told you so.” I believe our actions in Iraq, as well as our previous actions around the world only make the future price we have to pay higher, and I fear that price will be higher than we can ever pay.
I am amazed, however, that there is no public outrage at our actions, either domestically or from abroad. It appears that the spin is being generated to blame our intelligence agencies for the failures. Someone about the same caliber as Oliver North will probably take the fall for the whole lie. The question that keeps coming back to me is what would happen to an individual or group of people that embarked upon a similar mission as the U.S. and Britain did upon Iraq?
Bear with me if you will, but I would really like to explore this perspective. Imagine if you will that in some outlying area in a remote part of any country that there is an individual (we’ll call him old Mr. X) who is despised and reviled by all. This person could be the political head of his small province, but most likely he is just an ornery and eccentric recluse. He’s the kind of person that people whisper about, because they’re scared of him. Rumors have been spread about this individual for twenty years. Finally something horrible happens in this community. For example a child disappears, or is found murdered. Instantly fingers are pointed at strange old Mr. X. After all, Mr. X is a known Satan worshipper, child molester, murder, rapist, and libertarian.
After much prodding and public outcry, public officials investigate Mr. X. The investigation goes on for ten years. Much money is spent, but nothing of any consequence is found. Aside from determining that Mr. X is indeed an eccentric and a libertarian, the state will not attempt to bring a criminal case to court. “Nonsense”, cry the townspeople. “It is a known fact that Mr. X has been killing and eating babies for generations. Why, we’ve heard their mournful cries on dark nights. We also have an eye witness that he pulled the wings off of flies.”
Fueled by its own rage and rationalizations, the fury of the lynch mob grows. The father of the murdered child enlists the help of some family, friends, and fathers of other small children who set out to make the province safe for children. Citizens of the realm that believe in the old man’s innocence say little or nothing for fear of retaliation. The mob breaks into the old man’s home and they search for baby’s bones, satanic instruments, and the like. They find nothing. They dig in the basement, the yard, the surrounding fields, barns, and forests and still find nothing. They torture the old man to make him talk, but he only cries. Finally the old man dies, taking any secrets he has to his grave. “We know he was guilty,” the mob exclaims. “We will find the evidence, just give us time.”
Now if this scenario took place in any country in the world, the members of this mob would be imprisoned. Vigilante justice is not tolerated in modern society, despite real or imagined failures of the criminal justice system. Evidence based on rumor will not hold up in a court of law. Good intentions do not justify the wanton killing of a perceived criminal. One must have evidence, and even then the state must be the prosecutor.
Actions such as these have taken place in our society. The most blatant instances that come to mind were also instigated under state authority such as the Spanish Inquisition, the Salem witch trials, and the French revolution. So what happens when the state misuses its prosecutorial power? The answer is: nothing, unless there is a revolution. You or anyone else cannot successfully fight city hall.
The real problem here is that there is no one to bring the state to justice. People can say it, but I’ll never believe that our intelligence on Iraq was so catastrophically wrong. How could this be? We have the best intelligence in the world! The message to the world is this: if we suspect you of harboring WMD, thinking about WMD, or if we just plain don’t like you, we’ll accuse you, then blow you up and no one will say a word! What are you going to do? We’re the biggest and strongest bully on the block. When it’s all said and done the American taxpayers will step up and pay to rebuild your country. Isn’t life grand?
Hence comes the dilemma: either the U.S. made a huge mistake and someone should be criminally liable for the negligent use of faulty intelligence to justify attacking a sovereign and impotent nation, someone lied to the President to make sure force was used against Iraq, or the President and all his cronies lied to the world about Iraq’s capabilities to justify an unjust war. Which scenario is correct? It doesn’t matter. The President as our commander-in-chief bears ultimate responsibility for our use of force in Iraq. A great wrong has been done here and justice cries out to be served. Could you imagine the characters in our above example being set free even if they truly believed the person they assaulted to be guilty of a heinous crime? The state would never allow anyone to go free in this situation. So why should our leaders expect to go unpunished, either for mistakes or genuine criminal acts?
Well, I know of no one that likes Saddam Hussein or no one that thinks he was a good person. The fact remains that the U.S. invaded a sovereign nation, unprovoked and on false pretense. Much the same way as it did Mexico, the Confederate States of America, Spain, Korea and Vietnam It also entered WWI under false pretense. Meanwhile citizens of both sides have paid with their lives and the American taxpayers have paid for the wars and the rebuilding. How long can this continue? How long before the subjects rebel against the empire?
February 24, 2004
Mitchell S. Flinchum is a native North Carolinian and a resident of Alamance County. He and his wife Teri have been married for 15 years and have two children. They attend Kimesville Road Baptist Church. Mr. Flinchum, a CPA, earned his undergraduate degree in economics from Elon University and his masters in accounting from UNC-Greensboro. He is a member of the SCV and the chairman of the Burlington chapter of the NC League of the South. He may be reached for comment here.