Iraq 5: Views of Elie Wiesel, Jimmy Carter, Simon Wiesenthal & Winston Churchill

March 18, 2003

CONTENTS

1. "We have a moral obligation to intervene where evil is in control"
2. "Peace isn't possible in evil's face" (By Elie Wiesel, LA Times, March 11, 2003)
3. "Just war – or a just war?" (By Jimmy Carter, New York Times)
4. Statement by Simon Wiesenthal (March 17, 2003)
5. "My grandfather invented Iraq – and he has lessons for us today" (By Winston Churchill, Wall Street Journal, March 16, 2003)


“WE HAVE A MORAL OBLIGATION TO INTERVENE WHERE EVIL IS IN CONTROL”

[Note by Tom Gross]

With war imminent, I attach four varying opinions, with extracts first for those who don't have time to read the articles in full:

1. "Peace isn't possible in evil's face: Rational people must intervene against the likes of Hussein" (By Elie Wiesel, Los Angeles Times, March 11, 2003). The Holocaust survivor, author, and Nobel Peace laureate, writes: "Though I oppose war [in general], I am in favor of intervention when, as in this case because of Hussein's equivocations and procrastinations, no other option remains. The recent past shows that only military intervention stopped bloodshed in the Balkans and destroyed the Taliban regime in Afghanistan... What it comes down to is this: We have a moral obligation to intervene where evil is in control. Today, that place is Iraq."

2. "Just war – or a just war?" (By Jimmy Carter, New York Times). The former U.S. president and winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize writes: "As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards... The war can be waged only as a last resort, with all nonviolent options exhausted. In the case of Iraq, it is obvious that clear alternatives to war exist."

3. Statement by Simon Wiesenthal (March 17, 2003). The famed Nazi hunter writes: "As a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust who lost 89 members of my family, I have experienced firsthand the horrors of war and bloodshed. I know that in any conflict many innocent lives will be lost. But history has taught us that the consequences of ignoring evil and terror pose an even greater risk for mankind... I have spent a lifetime pursuing the perpetrators of evil, not for revenge, but in search of justice and in order to protect future generations from the horrors that I have lived through. My experience has taught me that you cannot wait indefinitely on dictators... We must remember that freedom is not a gift from heaven, we must fight for it every day."

4. "My grandfather invented Iraq – and he has lessons for us today" (By Winston Churchill, The Wall Street Journal, March 16, 2003). The grandson of the man of the same name who "invented" modern Iraq, writes: "We have business to do and I believe that together America and Britain, and those of our allies who share our sense of urgency and strength of commitment, will soon rid the world of this demented despot, liberate the Iraqi people from tyranny, and strike a further blow against the ambitions of fundamentalist terror."


FULL ARTICLES

WIESEL: PEACE ISN’T POSSIBLE IN EVIL’S FACE

Peace isn't possible in evil's face
Rational people must intervene against the likes of Hussein
By Elie Wiesel
The Los Angeles Times
March 11, 2003

Under normal circumstances, I might have joined those peace marchers who, here and abroad, staged public demonstrations against an invasion of Iraq. After all, I have seen enough of the brutality, the ugliness, of war to oppose it heart and soul. Isn't war forever cruel, the ultimate form of violence? It inevitably generates not only loss of innocence but endless sorrow and mourning. How could one not reject it as an option?

And yet, this time I support President Bush's policy of intervention to eradicate international terrorism, which, most civilized nations agree, is the greatest threat facing us today. Bush has placed the Iraqi war into that context; Saddam Hussein is the ruthless leader of a rogue state to be disarmed by whatever means is necessary if he does not comply fully with the United Nations' mandates to disarm. If we fail to do this, we expose ourselves to terrifying consequences.

In other words: Though I oppose war, I am in favor of intervention when, as in this case because of Hussein's equivocations and procrastinations, no other option remains.

The recent past shows that only military intervention stopped bloodshed in the Balkans and destroyed the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. Moreover, had the international community intervened in Rwanda, more than 800,000 men, women and children would not have perished there.

Had Europe's great powers intervened against Adolf Hitler's aggressive ambitions in 1938 instead of appeasing him in Munich, humanity would have been spared the unprecedented horrors of World War II.

Does this apply to the present situation in Iraq? It does. Hussein must be stopped and disarmed. Even our European allies who oppose us now agree in principle, though they insist on waiting.

But time always plays in dictators' favor. Having managed to hide his biological weapons, Hussein's goal is to be able to choose the time and the place for using them. Surely that is why he threw out the U.N. inspectors four years ago. If he now appears to offer episodic minor concessions, just as surely that is because American troops are massing at his borders.

In certain political circles, one hears demands for proof that Hussein is still in possession of forbidden weapons. Some European governments evidently do not believe Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's statement that Hussein has such weapons, but I do, and here is why:

Powell is a great soldier and one who does not like war. It was he who prevailed upon then-President Bush in 1991 not to enter Baghdad. It was he who advised the current president not to bypass the U.N. system. If he says that he has proof of Hussein's criminal disregard of the U.N. resolutions, I believe him. I believe that a man of his standing would not jeopardize his name, his career, his prestige, his past and his honor.

We have known for a long time that the Iraqi ruler is a mass murderer. In the late 1980s, he ordered tens of thousands of his own citizens gassed to death. In 1990, he invaded Kuwait. After his defeat, he set its oil fields on fire, thus causing the worst ecological disaster in history. He also launched Scud missiles on Israel, which was not a participant in that war. He should have been indicted then for crimes against humanity. Serbia's Slobodan Milosevic was arrested and brought to trial for less.

Add to the evidence against him Hussein's conversation with CBS anchor Dan Rather. Listening to him declaring that Iraq was not defeated in 1991 made one wonder about his sanity; he appears to live a world of fantasy and hallucination.

The nightmarish question of what such a man might do with his arsenal of unconventional weaponry is why, more than ever, some of us believe in intervention. We must deal sooner rather than later with this madman whose possession of weapons of mass destruction threatens to provoke an ever-widening conflagration.

What it comes down to is this: We have a moral obligation to intervene where evil is in control. Today, that place is Iraq.

 

CARTER: JUST WAR – OR A JUST WAR?

Just war – or a just war?
By Jimmy Carter
Op-Ed Contributor
The New York Times

Profound changes have been taking place in American foreign policy, reversing consistent bipartisan commitments that for more than two centuries have earned our nation greatness. These commitments have been predicated on basic religious principles, respect for international law, and alliances that resulted in wise decisions and mutual restraint. Our apparent determination to launch a war against Iraq, without international support, is a violation of these premises.

As a Christian and as a president who was severely provoked by international crises, I became thoroughly familiar with the principles of a just war, and it is clear that a substantially unilateral attack on Iraq does not meet these standards. This is an almost universal conviction of religious leaders, with the most notable exception of a few spokesmen of the Southern Baptist Convention who are greatly influenced by their commitment to Israel based on eschatological, or final days, theology.

For a war to be just, it must meet several clearly defined criteria.

The war can be waged only as a last resort, with all nonviolent options exhausted. In the case of Iraq, it is obvious that clear alternatives to war exist. These options previously proposed by our own leaders and approved by the United Nations were outlined again by the Security Council on Friday. But now, with our own national security not directly threatened and despite the overwhelming opposition of most people and governments in the world, the United States seems determined to carry out military and diplomatic action that is almost unprecedented in the history of civilized nations. The first stage of our widely publicized war plan is to launch 3,000 bombs and missiles on a relatively defenseless Iraqi population within the first few hours of an invasion, with the purpose of so damaging and demoralizing the people that they will change their obnoxious leader, who will most likely be hidden and safe during the bombardment.

The war's weapons must discriminate between combatants and noncombatants. Extensive aerial bombardment, even with precise accuracy, inevitably results in "collateral damage." Gen. Tommy R. Franks, commander of American forces in the Persian Gulf, has expressed concern about many of the military targets being near hospitals, schools, mosques and private homes.

Its violence must be proportional to the injury we have suffered. Despite Saddam Hussein's other serious crimes, American efforts to tie Iraq to the 9/11 terrorist attacks have been unconvincing.

The attackers must have legitimate authority sanctioned by the society they profess to represent. The unanimous vote of approval in the Security Council to eliminate Iraq's weapons of mass destruction can still be honored, but our announced goals are now to achieve regime change and to establish a Pax Americana in the region, perhaps occupying the ethnically divided country for as long as a decade. For these objectives, we do not have international authority. Other members of the Security Council have so far resisted the enormous economic and political influence that is being exerted from Washington, and we are faced with the possibility of either a failure to get the necessary votes or else a veto from Russia, France and China. Although Turkey may still be enticed into helping us by enormous financial rewards and partial future control of the Kurds and oil in northern Iraq, its democratic Parliament has at least added its voice to the worldwide expressions of concern.

The peace it establishes must be a clear improvement over what exists. Although there are visions of peace and democracy in Iraq, it is quite possible that the aftermath of a military invasion will destabilize the region and prompt terrorists to further jeopardize our security at home. Also, by defying overwhelming world opposition, the United States will undermine the United Nations as a viable institution for world peace.

What about America's world standing if we don't go to war after such a great deployment of military forces in the region? The heartfelt sympathy and friendship offered to America after the 9/11 attacks, even from formerly antagonistic regimes, has been largely dissipated; increasingly unilateral and domineering policies have brought international trust in our country to its lowest level in memory. American stature will surely decline further if we launch a war in clear defiance of the United Nations. But to use the presence and threat of our military power to force Iraq's compliance with all United Nations resolutions with war as a final option will enhance our status as a champion of peace and justice.

(Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, is chairman of the Carter Center in Atlanta and winner of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize.)

 

SIMON WIESENTHAL CENTER STATEMENT

March 17, 2003

The Simon Wiesenthal Center today issued the following statement on behalf of famed Nazi hunter Simon Wiesenthal:

"As a survivor of the Nazi Holocaust who lost 89 members of my family, I have experienced firsthand the horrors of war and bloodshed. I know that in any conflict many innocent lives will be lost. But history has taught us that the consequences of ignoring evil and terror pose an even greater risk for mankind.

The world has confronted Saddam before, but for twelve years he has refused to listen. President George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, and Prime Minister Jose Marνa Aznar of Spain, do not seek to conquer Iraq but rather to confront a dictator who has used weapons of mass destruction and committed genocide against his own people.

I have spent a lifetime pursuing the perpetrators of evil, not for revenge, but in search of justice and in order to protect future generations from the horrors that I have lived through.

My experience has taught me that you cannot wait indefinitely on dictators. Adolf Hitler came to power in 1933, but for six years the world did not act. Had he been taken seriously then, the lives of innocent millions may have been spared.

We must remember that freedom is not a gift from heaven, we must fight for it every day."

 

CHURCHILL: MY GRANDFATHER INVENTED IRAQ

My grandfather invented Iraq – and he has lessons for us today
By Winston S. Churchill
The Wall Street Journal
March 16, 2003

As thunderclouds gather over the Middle East, America and Britain stand once again shoulder to shoulder preparing to draw the sword in defense of freedom, democracy and human rights. A line has been drawn in the sands of the Arabian desert. We have deployed some 200,000 American troops, together with more than 40,000 British, who will shortly be committed to battle.

Meanwhile, I have a confession to make: It was my grandfather, Winston Churchill, who invented Iraq and laid the foundation for much of the modern Middle East. In 1921, as British colonial secretary, Churchill was responsible for creating Jordan and Iraq and for placing the Hashemite rulers, Abdullah and Faisal, on their respective thrones in Amman and Baghdad. Furthermore, he delineated for the first time the political boundaries of biblical Palestine. Eighty years later, it falls to us to liberate Iraq from the scourge of one of the most ruthless dictators in history. As we stand poised on the brink of war, my grandfather's experience has lessons for us.

The parallels between Saddam Hussein's repeated flouting of U.N. resolutions – 17 over the past 12 years – calls to mind the impotence of the U.N. forerunner, the League of Nations. In the 1930s, the victors of the First World War – Britain, France and the U.S. – fecklessly allowed the League of Nations' resolutions to be flouted. This was done first by the Japanese, who invaded Manchuria, then by the Italian dictator Mussolini's invasion of Ethiopia and, most gravely, by Nazi Germany.

Had the Allies held firm and shown the same resolve to uphold the rule of law among nations that President Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair are demonstrating today, there is little doubt that World War II, with all its horrors, could have been avoided. Indeed it was for that reason that Churchill called World War II the "Unnecessary War." Tragically, the same sickness that infected the League of Nations – a feebleness of spirit, an unwillingness to face the realities of the world we live in, and a determination to place corrupt self-interest before the common good – now afflicts the governments of France, Germany and Belgium.

I can think of few actions more shameful than the recent vote by these three nations in the counsels of NATO to deny the Turks – the only NATO country to share a common border with Iraq – the protection they need against the very real possibility of an Iraqi missile attack. This region, in particular, was one of the great disappointments of my grandfather's career. After the creation of Iraq, Iran and Palestine, he wanted to create a fourth political entity in the region, Kurdistan. Against his better judgment, he allowed himself to be overruled by the officials of the colonial office, a tragic decision that, to this day, has deprived the Kurds of a nation of their own and caused them to be split up under Iran, Iraq and Turkey, each of which has persecuted them for their aspiration to self-determination – none more so than Saddam.

My grandfather's resolve and leadership offer a second parallel to today's situation – one that confronted the world 55 years ago, when America was on the point of losing her monopoly of the atomic bomb. As leader of the opposition in the British parliament, Churchill was gravely alarmed at the prospect of the Soviet Union acquiring atomic, and eventually nuclear, weapons of its own. He said at the time, "What will happen when they get the atomic bomb themselves and have accumulated a large store? No one in his senses can believe that we have a limitless period of time before us."

As President Bush and Mr. Blair intend today in the case of Iraq, Winston Churchill in 1948 favored the threat – and if need be the reality – of a pre-emptive strike to safeguard the interests of the Free World. Aware of the dangers ahead, Churchill believed that the U.S. – while it still had a monopoly of atomic power – should require the Soviet Union to abandon the development of these weapons, if need be by threatening their use.

The Truman administration chose not to heed his advice. The result was the Cold War, in the course of which the world – on more than one occasion – came perilously close to a nuclear holocaust.

It is no great surprise that the nations which long toiled under the yoke of communism during the Cold War are our greatest supporters today. Unlike the French, Germans and Belgians, the East Europeans have not forgotten the debt of gratitude they owe to the United States, first for liberating them from the Nazis and, most recently, from Soviet domination. With absurd Gallic arrogance Jacques Chirac has threatened to block next year's scheduled entry into the European Union of some 10 East European nations as punishment for their support of the Anglo-American position on Iraq. Beneath the protests of the French and the Germans, we can discern in the current crisis, the fading of the old Europe dominated by the Franco-German axis.

Mr. Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, in urging delay, know full well that if the impending attack is not launched in the next two to three weeks, it cannot, realistically, take place until the end of the year, granting Saddam an eight-month reprieve. In whose interest would that be, I wonder? No doubt they imagine that, by their delaying tactics, they can save Saddam's bacon and with it their own arms-for-oil contracts. But I have news for these two shabby peace-mongers who know no shame: By their failure to join in the coalition of the willing – indeed, by their deliberate attempts to frustrate the removal of Saddam – they will forfeit both their arms contracts and their Iraqi oil. And it could not happen to nicer people!

Like President Reagan before him, George W. Bush has what my grandfather would have called "the root of the matter" in him. He is able to discern the most important issues of the day and to stand firm by his beliefs. Likewise Tony Blair. On Iraq and the Anglo-American alliance, the British prime minister has got it absolutely right: He is pursuing the true national interest of Great Britain, which is to stand at the side of the Great Republic, as my grandfather was fond of calling the land of his mother's birth.

The time has come for the world community – or such of it as has the courage to act – to deal with this monster once and for all. Were we to shirk from this duty, the U.N. would go the way of the League. More gravely, a marriage of convenience would be consummated between the terrorist forces of al Qaeda and the arsenal of chemical, biological and nuclear capabilities which Saddam possesses.

We have business to do and I believe that together America and Britain, and those of our allies who share our sense of urgency and strength of commitment, will soon rid the world of this demented despot, liberate the Iraqi people from tyranny, and strike a further blow against the ambitions of fundamentalist terror.

(Mr. Churchill, a former British member of Parliament, is the editor of "Never Give In!," a collection of Winston Churchill's speeches, due in November from Hyperion. This is adapted from a speech at the Houston Forum.)


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.