I wonder also about Madar's take on whether knowing the truth is helpful in politics. Ultimately, of course, Madar is in favor of public knowledge of government's behavior. But I think he undervalues it a bit at times. "When does war end?" he quotes Alexander Cockburn asking himself. "One side is annihilated, the money runs out, the troops mutiny, the government falls, or fears it will. With the U.S. war in Afghanistan none of these conditions has been met." Nor with the U.S. war on Iraq, which has virtually ended nonetheless.
I also would modify slightly Madar's take on the rule of law. As Madar sees it, many of the outrages that Manning revealed, even the killings in the "Collateral Murder" video, even the handing over of prisoners to the Iraqi government to torture, were immoral but legal, because the laws of war allow them. Madar is dealing with jus in bello, laws on the conduct of war, not jus ad bellum, laws on what makes a war or an occupation just to begin with. In fact there is no just war. There is no legal war. Every single war has been illegal since the Kellogg Briand Pact of 1928. The U.N. Charter seeks to legalize wars that are either labeled "defensive" or authorized by the United Nations. The U.S. wars on Iraq and Afghanistan are neither defensive nor authorized by the United Nations. The U.S. Constitution forbids wars not declared by Congress. Congress has not declared a war since 1941.
Certainly the law is often unjust and must be nonviolently resisted. But when we have good legal arguments on our side, we shouldn't always be so reluctant to use them. If torture can be "legalized" by the vacuous ramblings of John Yoo, if bribery can be "legalized" through the human rights of corporations established by a court reporter's marginalia, why shouldn't we legalize peace by reviving awareness of actual laws actually on the books?
As with most books I review, so must I comment on this one that I wish people would stop lowballing the death count in Iraq by almost an order of magnitude.
I must also strongly encourage you to buy a copy of this book for everyone you know.
Watch for an upcoming edition of Talk Nation Radio with Chase Madar.
Write to Bradley to encourage him at:
830 Sabalu Road
Fort Leavenworth KS 66027-2315.
David Swanson's books include "War Is A Lie." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio
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