By Michael Rivage-Seul
Terrorist atrocities are horrendous but they are also the result of the Iraq War and the civilians killed in it.
The entire world was shocked by the horrendous atrocities of July 14 during Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, when a madman ran over scores of his fellow citizens.
Appropriately the crimes were followed by tears, laying of wreaths, moments of silence and prayer vigils.
France’s President Francois Hollande evoked sympathy when he correctly declared the attacks “an act of war.” No one disagreed.
However, Hollande was not correct in his implication that the killings in Nice (and earlier in Paris, first at Charlie Hebdo and more recently at a music venue) somehow began a war that France and its partners have now self-righteously resolved to “finish.”
Rather, all those massacres are part of a much bigger picture that centralizes France’s participation in the U.S.-fabricated Iraq War and the resulting creation of the Islamic State.
To fill out that picture, consider the following home truths about that war in particular, and about war in general. Uncomfortable as they are, allowing those truths to sink in might help uncover non-violent alternatives to the carnage that stupefies everyone. Begin here:
War is hell.
In modern warfare, 90 percent of casualties are civilian.
The casualties include refugee migrations.
The West’s response to 9/11/01 was to declare war, to begin a campaign of bombing and extra-judicial assassination in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia and elsewhere.
According to a study by Lancet (one of the oldest scientific medical journals in the world), since 2003 the U.S. war in Iraq has caused more than one million deaths, again, most of them civilian.
Meanwhile, the U.S. has supplied weapons to Israel and Saudi Arabia for their own bombing campaigns against Muslims in Gaza and Yemen. In Gaza alone (with complete U.S. support) the Israeli Defense Force fired 50,000 shells, carried out 6,000 airstrikes, destroyed 3,500 buildings, and killed 2,250 Gazans, including 551 children.
In wars there are always at least two sides. All have the right to attack and counterattack. It is insane to be shocked by counterattacks, which often mimic attacks. So if one side is perceived as attacking defenseless civilians, the other side will likely respond in kind.
France itself is at war. Hollande is a founding member of the U.S.-led coalition that has recently dropped 175,000 bombs on Iraq and Syria, killing at least 600 civilians in the process.
Therefore no one should be surprised when “in kind” counterattacks occur. (To repeat: that’s the way war works.)
In view of such truths, and recognizing that intensified bombing has proven counterproductive, instead of responding to the Paris massacre with more of the same, the U.S., France and their allies should:
▪ On principle reject the atrocities of war that on both sides justly horrify everyone.
▪ Institute instead a process of truth and reconciliation that admits and apologizes for the causal role the Iraq War has had in the creation of ISIS.
▪ Take seriously Britain’s recently published Chilcot Report that indicted former British Prime Minister Tony Blair for cooperating with the Bush administration in misleading the world into that war.
▪ Prosecute Blair, former President George W. Bush, former Vice President Dick Cheney and others for the crimes the Chilcot Report describes.
▪ Open western borders to the refugees inevitably produced by the U.S.-led wars over the last 15 years.
▪ Spend the billions now invested in war against ISIS on rebuilding Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Palestine.
▪ In churches and other principled forums, specifically condemn all Islamophobic statements of politicians and other public figures.
Only actions like these can release the world from massacres that are the unavoidable consequences of the wars we rightly recognize as hell.
Mike Rivage-Seul of Berea is a former priest and a retired profe