An Appeal to the Conscience of Those Who Would Bomb Iran
George Bush is going to war again. We see it in the Bush administration’s rhetoric about Iran’s nuclear program. We see it in the Bush administration’s commentary on Iran’s reported role in training and equipping Iraqis who are fighting U.S. forces that have invaded and occupied that country. We see it in the Bush administration’s criticism of Iran’s role in funding and equipping Hezbollah in Lebanon. We see it in the Bush administration’s direction to the U.S. military to detain Iranian diplomats in Iraq, breach diplomatic facilities, and capture or kill Iranian operatives in Iraq. We see it in the deployment of the third U.S. Naval carrier group (twenty more ships) to the Gulf.
These actions indicate a very high probability of a U.S. military attack on Iran within the next month. The Bush administration will attempt to argue that any of these triggers are so vital to the national security of the United States that military action is required.
Since January, 2002, the Bush administration has listed Iran as one of the “Axis of Evil” nations. Iran is now surrounded by the United States military. Iran’s neighbors have been invaded and occupied by the Bush administration: Iraq to the west, and Afghanistan to the east. 100 U.S. naval ships control access to the Persian Gulf to the south.
Iran is a country with a remarkable 2,500 year history. Iran has a population of 68 million people, 80,000 of whom still suffer from Iraq’s use of U.S., French, German and UK chemical weapons on them (20,000 more were killed outright). This was the largest use of weapons of mass destruction, since the U.S. atomic bombing of two cities in Japan at the end of World War II. Iran has a land mass three times the size of Iraq. Iran has a large military, unconstrained by twelve years of sanctions. Iran has a modern infrastructure. And Iran has a democracy in which the Parliament reportedly is within ten votes of impeaching the country’s abrasive president.
Unless we de-rail Bush’s next war, U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy pilots will be ordered to drop bunker busting, “smart” bombs on facilities of the Iranian nuclear program. U.S. Navy submarine and ship missile operators will be ordered to push the buttons to release $1 million dollar Cruise missiles that will demolish nuclear and military facilities. The military will claim limited collateral damage, but, no doubt as in every military operation, many innocent civilians will be killed by these attacks.
Many in the Bush administration believe in retribution. 52 U.S. diplomats were held for 444 days from November 4, 1979 to January 20, 1981 by Iranian revolutionary guards and eight U.S. military personnel were killed in the unsuccessful, April 25, 1980 rescue attempt. To those in the Bush administration who may believe in the retribution principle, one should remind them of the 1988 shooting down of an Iranian civilian passenger aircraft by a U.S. Navy missile, that killed 290 civilian passengers. The 1979 U.S. Embassy takeover score has been settled.
Bombing Iranian facilities by the U.S. military will cause the cycle of violence to begin again. If the U.S. attacks Iran, by international law, Iran has the legal right to defend itself from aggressive action by another country. The world will be watching carefully to see if the U.S. provokes an incident whereby the Iranian military is forced into action against U.S. forces. The Gulf is filled with U.S. military ships which may, by the actions of the Bush administration, become legitimate targets.
While we are on the topic of history and aggression, after World War II, the United States executed German and Japanese military officers who were convicted of crimes against peace (wars of aggression) and for violations of the Geneva Conventions and the Nuremberg Principles.
The Nuremberg Principles provide for accountability for war crimes committed by military and civilian officials.
Principle IV of the Nuremberg Principles states: “The fact that a person acted pursuant to an order of his Government or of a superior does not relieve him from responsibility under international law, provided a moral choice was in fact possible to him.
Principle VI of the Nuremberg Principles: The following crimes are punishable as crimes under international law:
a. Crimes against peace: i. Planning, preparation, initiation or waging of a war of aggression or a war in violation of international treaties, agreements or assurances; ii. Participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the acts mentioned under (i).
b. War Crimes: Violations of the laws or customs of war which include, but are not limited to murder, ill-treatment or deportation to slave-labor or for any other purpose of civilian population of or in occupied territory, murder or ill-treatment of prisoners of war, of persons on the seas, killing of hostages, plunder of public or private property, wanton destruction of cities, towns, or villages, or devastation not justified by military necessity.
c. Crimes against humanity: Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation and other inhuman acts done against any civilian population, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds, when such acts are done, or such persecutions are carried on in execution of, or in connection with any crime against peace, or any war crime.”
Attacking Iran will be a crime against peace, a war crime. Those conducting military operations will be violating the Nuremberg Principles, the Geneva Conventions and the Laws of Land Warfare. Prosecution for commission of war crimes is possible.
I appeal to the conscience of U.S. Air Force and U.S. Navy pilots and military personnel who command cruise missiles and pilot bombers and those who plan the missions for the pilots and missile commanders. I ask that they refuse what I believe will be unlawful orders to attack Iran.
Accountability for one’s actions is finally becoming possible under the new Congress. While refusal to drop bombs may initially draw punishment and the loss of one’s military career, those who refuse will save their soul, their conscience and will prevent another criminal action in the name of our country by the Bush administration.
A Reminder: The oath for commissioned officers is to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic and not to a particular person or political party.
Ann Wright retired from the U.S. Army Reserves as a Colonel after 29 years. Ms. Wright served in Grenada, Panama, Greece, the Netherlands, Somalia, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Sierra Leone, Micronesia and Mongolia. She was on the small team that reopened the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, in December 2001. She resigned from the U.S. diplomatic corps in March 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war.
Truthout, February 13, 2007