Distinguished Members of the Jury of Conscience; Fellow Advocates; Ladies and Gentlemen, Friends –

The testimonies have brought the reality of an Iraq tortured by the US/UK (and a coalition of willing clients) illegal attack, and illegal occupation, into our minds and hearts. With a sense of deep anger at the continued aggression and deep compassion with the victims we have witnessed the reality of crimes against peace, war crimes and crimes against humanity, including nuclear war through the use of depleted, radioactive uranium, on top of the genocidal economic sanctions, and the general “softening up” of Iraq for a quick, decisive war and remolding to the taste of the aggressors.

Members of the Jury: what we are witnessing is the geo-fascist state terrorism of US imperialism, following the defunct British Empire, soon to follow it into the graveyard of empires. In my research-based opinion at the latest by 2020, but, past experience being a guide, there is more to come. By some counts the attack on Iraq is US aggression no. 239 after the Thomas Jefferson start in the early 19th century and no. 69 after the Second World War; with between 12 and 16 million killed in that period alone. All in flagrant contradiction of the most basic human rights, like the “right to life, liberty and security of persons” (UD:3) and the condemnation of the “cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment” (UD:5). In a Pentagon Planner’s chilling words: “The de facto role of the United States Armed Forces will be to keep the world safe for our economy and open to our cultural assault. To those ends, we will do a fair amount of killing”. [1]

And in my drier words: “Imperialism is a transborder structure for the synergy of killing, repression, exploitation and brain-washing.”

I hold up against this organized atrocity–whether attempted legitimized through packs of lies about weapons of mass destruction and links to Al Qaeda, or by invoking a divine mandate or a mandate to export democracy and human rights through dictatorship and world crimes–a slip of paper, Article 28 of the Universal Declaration:

Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized. (UD:28)

This admirable formulation provides an excellent linkage between various levels of social organization, from the individual level at which these rights are implemented or violated, to the structure of the social and world spaces. It indicates the spaces in which these conditions may be identified. The basic needs served by human rights are located inside the individual, but the conditions for their satisfaction are social and/or international, generally speaking. UD:28 is a meta-right, a right about rights, with nothing short of revolutionary implications.

US imperialism in general, and its articulation in Iraq in particular, invokes the whole International Bill of Rights, but the focus is on the UD:3 right to life, in the context of Article 29:

Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible. (UD:29)

There are no rights without duties, and right-holder and duty-bearer may also be the same actor. The word “community” rather than, but not excluding, “country” is used. This is very realistic as human beings developed personalities long before there were countries run by states and peopled by nations in our sense. But “communities” are as old as humankind itself. To a growing part of humanity the most important are non-territorial, like the NGOs.

Problem: What are the rights that flow from the conjunction of UD:3 with UD:28, and what are the corresponding UD:29 duties?

First Exercise: The entitlement to a social and international order where everything is done to resolve conflicts nonviolently.

Obvious, but worth emphasizing: the US/UK continued warfare is not only criminal, even by intent as demonstrated by the Downing Street Memorandum, but also plainly stupid, a folly. The criminal and the stupid can operate singly, but they also often combine and reinforce, due to a simple mechanism. Criminal acts have to be planned in secret, also to deceive their own peoples, by small gangs with cojones, in Bush’s words. They do not benefit from the dialogue of open agreements openly arrived at in an open society, also known as a democracy. Democracy’s traitors easily become its fools.

Barbara W. Tuchman, in her fine book The March of Folly, [2] gives us some leads. She studies Troy in the Battle of Troy, the Renaissance Popes during the Protestant Reformation, England and the American Revolution, and the USA in Viêt Nam and concludes that their action was simply foolish. [3] And she presents three criteria for a policy to be characterized as a “folly” [4]:

[1] It was perceived as counter-productive in its own time; [2] A feasible alternative course of action was available; and [3] The policy was not the policy of one particular ruler only.

All criteria are met in the US/UK illegal attack on Iraq. Hardly ever has a policy been so massively critiqued for being “counterproductive”, including the 15 February 2003 demonstration of 11 million in 600 places around the world, the biggest in human history. As I shall indicate, alternative courses were available. And there was more than one ruler involved, a whole coalition defying their people, headed by 2B, Bush-Blair, followed by clients like 2b, Berlusconi-Bondevik (the Norwegian fundamentalist prime minister). Only two countries were democratic in the sense that executive, legislature and public opinion coincided: the USA for the war, and our host country, Turkey, against. EU, take note.

Two Security Council members, France and Germany, put forward an alternative course of action: continued, deeper inspection that could then be extended to a human rights inspection, gradually eliminating two of the pretexts for a war which obviously was for geo-economic. geo-political and geo-cultural (Judeo-Christian anti Islam, that is what the content of the torture and the desecration of the Qur’an are about). This proposal could easily have been developed into something that could serve to organize a General Assembly Uniting for Peace resolution, possibly also using the highly successful Helsinki Conference for Security and Cooperation of 1973-75 as a model (also to avoid US/UK veto).

But this was not the road traveled. Not to do so was not a US/UK brutal act of commission, but an act of omission that always comes as a poor second in Judeo-Christian philosophy and Western jurisprudence. Many can be blamed, including France and Germany themselves for not having followed up, lesser coalition members, the UNGA for not mustering the collective courage against the bullying by Colin Powell telling that Uniting for Peace (in the UNSC-run UN) is seen by the USA as an “unfriendly act”.

We are sensing here a missing human right with corresponding duty: the right to live in a “social and international order” where everything is done to solve conflicts nonviolently. That right can only be implemented if others fulfill certain duties. It is not for everybody to have an impact on the “social and international order” in such concrete and partly technical issues. In other words, for the right to be implemented somebody “high up”, socially and/or internationally, indeed including the media, will have to do a better job, being more open to nonviolent alternatives and more closed to violence, war and the “military option” in general.

This point becomes even more clear in the next example, Saddam Hussein’s peace proposal in the New York Times (6 November 2003) ” Iraq said to have tried to reach last minute deal to avert war”:

In February 2003 Hassan Al-Obeidi, chief of foreign operations of the Iraqi Intelligence Service, met with Imad Hage, a Lebanese-American Businessman in his Beirut office. Mr. Obeidi told Mr. Hage that Iraq would make deals to avoid war, including helping in the Mideast peace process. He said, “If this is about oil, we will talk about U.S. oil concessions. If this is about weapons of mass destruction, let the Americans send over their people.” Mr. Obeidi said Iraq would agree to hold elections within the next two years. Of all people Richard Perle seems to have been willing to pursue this channel, but was overruled by higher officials. Said Perle: The message was, “Tell them that we will see them in Baghdad”.

The blame for this act of omission falls on the U.S. itself. But this is entirely in line with a very transparent U.S. approach: the U.S. reports its own proposals but not the other side, like in Viêt Nam, in the Rambouillet negotiations over to bomb or not to bomb Serbia, or in general over Israel-Palestine. When the other side, denied access to public space by the compliant media of the military-corporate-media complex, fails to accept U.S. proposals they can more easily be portrayed as being “against peace”.

In a Helsinki style Conference for Security and Cooperation In and Around Iraq these proposals would be on the table, as “it” was about all those issues, holding Saddam Hussein to his words. “Oil issues” could be translated into quotas and put the U.S. in a negotiating rather than dictating position. WMD: the U.S. knew the program had been discontinued in 1995; the CIA is hardly that badly informed. And even if Hussein is not credible as a guardian of democracy these elections would not be under the U.S./corporate press/”one dollar one vote” control that gives democracy such a bad name, close to a synonym for “US client state”. However that may be, to have closed this channel was both criminal and stupid.

Second Exercise: The entitlement to a social and international order where perpetrators of (major) crimes are brought to justice.

With major perpetrators having major power through major veto, the UN today is not an adequate instrument for bringing US/UK to justice; the USA even having exempted itself from ICC adjudication. Yet they should not get away with impunity. Justice has to be done.

When a government fails to live up to its duty civil society, meaning nongovernment, has to step in. When the major international instrument of governments, the UN, fails to live up to its duty the international civil society has to step in. This World Tribunal on Iraq is an example of a tribunal based on the international civil society. But how about the instruments of punitive justice?

The answer is that the international civil society, everyone of us, has that instrument: an economic boycott of US/UK products. A boycott could include consumer goods (drinks and food of iconic nature, fuels), capital goods (like not using Boeing, a major death factory, aircraft whenever there are alternatives), and financial goods (like using other currencies than dollars for international transactions including tourism and price denomination; divestment from US/UK stock and bonds). It could relate to all products, or only to products from the most obnoxious, empire-related companies, like US/UK oil companies. It could be combined with a “girlcott” favoring non-coalition countries and acceptable US/UK companies.

Members of the Jury: Everybody could find his/her own formula, seeing some boycott not only as a human duty but as a human right not to be interfered with. For Iraq a focus on oil is recommended.

However, channels of communication should be kept open for dialogues. The goal is less to inflict pain than to bring about an end to an illegal aggression and, by implication and atrocities, illegal occupation. When the occupation is over, so is the boycott.

Third Exercise: The entitlement to a social and international order without imperial structures perverting the order.

We are today talking about a US empire, which may or may not have successors, in which case what follows also applies to them.

The empire is a structure based on unequal exchange in the military, political, economic and cultural fields, and has to be counteracted in all four fields. Being the negation of the social and international order in the sense of UD:28 there is not only a human duty for people at all levels to counteract an empire but also a human right, not to be interfered with, to do so.

Unequal exchange is injustice. To counteract it will be construed as hostile action, as “terrorism”, interfering with the “normal” flow of resources and products, “normal” as established by the empire (see Article 24 of the new NATO Pact of 1999).

In reality, not to interfere is complicity, and to interfere is justice, and more particularly restorative justice. It restores not only victim countries, groups and individuals, but also the perpetrator, to normalcy and sanity, coexisting peacefully in a world of more equal, or at least less flagrantly unequal, exchange.

The country to benefit most from the dismantling of the US Empire is the U.S. which, while enriching its upper classes at the same time has degenerated into a paranoid, angst-ridden country tormented by the existential fear that “one day they will do to us what we have done to them” (yes, one day they did: 9/11 2001.).

I join the ranks of those who say “I love the US Republic, and I hate the US Empire”. The question is how to engage in these colossal acts of restorative justice. And the answer is that it is happening all the time militarily and politically, that more can and should be done, and that there is a need for action in the economic and cultural fields. And who are the actors? Everybody.

How can it be done? Four examples, covering the four fields:

Militarily this is happening all places in the world where that “most powerful country” is challenged by people shedding their uniform, dressing and living like the people around them with their total support and more dedicated than soldiers fed packs of lies.

Members of the Jury: All resistance against an illegal attack is legitimate, and the Iraqi resistance is fighting for us all. But I also blame us in the peace movement for having been unable to share our insights in nonviolent resistance with our Iraqi friends.

Politically regionalization is happening all over the world, in part motivated by getting out of the US grip: the EU, the AU and similar incipient movements in Latin America, OIC and East Asia.

Economically there is the economic boycott, adding to punitive justice the restorative, gandhian aspect of taking on the challenge of developing your own products and helping the U.S. accommodate to a reasonable and equitable niche in world trade. In John Perkins Confessions of an Economic Hit Man lies the depth of U.S. insanity.

Culturally we are confronted with US/UK legitimacy. It used to be that “the U.S. is chosen by God; the UK by the U.S.” like a pale moon reflecting that divine Anglo-American light. Today the idea of God using Bush as his instrument is sheer blasphemy, and countries chosen by the USA should ask, “what is wrong about me”. If you are so immature as to need a strong father seek psycho-therapy, not a mafia boss. To kill Iraqis as therapy is despicable.

Members of the Jury: My own buddhism is sufficiently close to the gentle Christianity of a St Francis to sense the blasphemy. I call on the Jury to call on Christian communities to protest this blasphemy, including Pope Benedict XVI, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, who had the task of protecting the faith. The time to act is now.

Notes: [1] From Susan George, “The Corporate Utopian Dream”, The WTO and the Global War System, Seattle, November 1999. He is missing the political dimension and might have added “a fair amount of bullying” or “arm-twisting” after killing. [2] The March of Folly, From Troy to Vietnam (New York: Knopf, 1984) [3] Visitors today to the ruins of Troy (in Turkey, near the Dardanelles, on the Asian side) will find a model of the famous wooden horse, and can judge for themselves the wisdom of letting such a thing within their walls. In the other three cases a little patience, flexibility, willingness to listen, and real dialogue might have come a far way. But then we might have had neither economic growth and individualizing democracy as we know them, if we accept that both are related to the world view of Protestantism, nor the end of the beginning of the US Republic, nor the beginning of the end of the US Empire. [4] Op.cit.., p. 5

Johan Galtung, Dr. hc mult serves on the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation’s Advisory Council, is founder of the Oslo Peace Research Institute, founder of Transcend, and a recipient of the Right Livelihood Award.