Yes, War Is Hell


To the Editors of the Crimson:

Many have said that war is hell. If war is hell, who is the culpable evildoer? Saddam Hussein calls George Bush "Satan," and Bush calls Hussein the "Butcher of Baghdad." So who is the real warlock? To the dismay of the unequivocal supporters of either Hussein or Bush, both epithets are correct in that both are responsible for much of the world's recent fiendishness. This is obviously distasteful news to our self-censoring listeners who ignore their own country's fallacies. But facts are facts, and law is law.

Despite their differences in religion, national allegiance, and military strategy, Hussein and Bush are more alike than we might be led to believe. Hussein has invaded another state (Kuwait), waged war against another country (Iran), and brandishes a reprehensible weapon (chemical warheads). Bush has also invaded another state (Panama), waged war against another country (Nicaragua), and totes an equally menacing chemical weapon (nuclear warheads). The point is that if you are on the receiving end of any one of these demonic policies, it makes very little difference whether the imperial "Satan" or the "Butcher of Baghdad" is at "command and control."

Bush's cheerleaders say we must stand up against transgression of international law (e.g., Iraq's pillage of Kuwait). However, we all know that if Daniel Ortega were the president of Kuwait or if Kuwait produced celery sticks instead of oil, the U.S. would "fighting for freedom."

Meanwhile, Hussein's fan club argues that we must stand up against imperialistic hypocrisy (e.g., condemning violence in one part of the world while abetting or committing it in another part). Yet, we all know that imitating an international criminal only adds more suffering to a world fraught with 30 to 40 wars. In short, each of their track-records indicate a consistent disregard for the virtues of international law.


We fall into Hussein's or Bush's bloody hands once we condemn one set of crimes and overlook another. By choosing between the crimes of "Satan" and the "Butcher," we compromise the meaning of law and justice. In order to avoid this trap, we need to create an authentic "world legal order" that expands the concept of the "national interest" to the "global interest" which consistently applies the principles of international law to all countries--big or small.

Without the advent of a global "pere-stroika" towards enforceable world law and principles, humanity does not stand a chance to peacefully resolve the Iraqi-Kuwaiti or Palestinian Questions or make the U.S. pay the $17 billion it owes Nicaragua for its aggression as ruled by the U.N. World Court.

Our aspirations for peace work better when we obey the same rules that we invoke for others to obey. Tore Kapstad   GSAS Special Student