Open letter to Congress

An Open Letter to Congressman Jim Himes, 4th District, Ct. 

Dear Congressman Himes,

The US plans to drop all the bombs carried by 1000 planes every day for a month. We are supposed to imagine that doing this will improve human rights in some way and, yet once again, are supposed to swallow the Administration’s claims that this is required because some evidence the Administration won’t show us is supposed to prove the Syrian government used chemical weapons.
 

Syria has not attacked us, does not intend to, and is unable to, so the Administration has planned a war of aggression. Planning an aggressive war is, in itself, a war crime–“a crime against peace,” which is, as Telford Taylor, the chief of the US team of prosecutors at Nuremberg said, “the most serious war crime, containing the seed of all the others in itself.” We wrote the Nuremberg Rules we now flout, though they remain valid law, both internationally and in our own domestic law. So the Administration has already committed the most serious war crime and now wants congressional approval in order to use the product of its crime to implement the commission of more war crimes. In order to get away with this and many other international crimes, it refuses to join the International Criminal Court over 100 other countries have joined.

 
For a congressperson to knowingly vote for the implementation of a war crime may itself be a war crime; an international court would have to determine that. You should know this, Congressman Himes. But when you say that this is “the most difficult decision you are called upon to make”, you are speaking as if you were in the position of (the medieval philosopher) John Buridan’s ass, equidistant between two piles of hay and so unable to decide which to go to. The two choices are not similar because one of them is a war crime. Choosing between a war crime and a legal action should be the easiest choice you have to make.  
 
I say this as a lawyer before the New York Bar in retirement. Studying under U.N. lawyers at Pace Law School, I earned a certificate in public international law and worked under the sole surviving prosecutor at Nuremberg, Benjamin Ferencz–who has a website you might want to consult. On a grant from the US Peace Institute, I compiled a bibliography on the international law of peace published by Oceana Press and then used in UN staff training manuals. 
 
It’s no accident that the US gets little international support for its imperialist wars so thinly disguised as the protection of human rights. Other countries know they have an interest in trying to observe international law because they don’t want to be the victims of war crimes themselves. Our elite is virtually alone in believing it is in their interests to be a rogue state. It is, in fact, only in the interest of the richest 1 to 2% of us, starting with the Pentagon, military industries and their investors, oil companies and their investors, and Congress itself–whose members invest heavily in such ventures with guaranteed profits–all at the expense of the rest of us, let alone of the entire world.
 
I hope you will become aware that you are dealing with war criminals and that you are now at risk of becoming a war criminal yourself–or of adding to international crimes you have already committed. 
 
Government officials believe that they act with impunity because of the current hypocritical capacity of the US government to flout the international laws whose creation it initiated. That impunity may not last forever because the US share of the world economy has been shrinking steadily since 1945 and will continue to shrink. Ultimately our government’s power depends not on the military but on the economy. The economy, in turn, now depends primarily on two factors–whether our plutocrats continue to run the country for the sake of their own portfolios or decide instead to run it in the actual interests of the great majority of us, and on whether they begin to consider the “externalities” they are imposing on the environment and the rest of us. In the long run, of course, the economy depends on whether the vast majority of us continue to allow our country to be exploited mercilessly by an elite that is not committed to it and is not honest with us, and to compel us to, or seduce us into, in turn exploiting each other and the world for their sake while they waste what we pass on to them. 
 
Do what’s right, Congressman Himes: Just say “No.”
Richard Duffee 
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