- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 3, 2005

In his Nov. 11 article in The Washington Times, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr. praises the $1 billion U.S. aid commitment to Asian tsunami victims and calls for increased U.S. aid in Pakistan, where 80,000 lost their lives in last month’s earthquake. He warns that, “If the harsh Pakistani winter arrives before aid does, thousands of innocent people will die” and concludes, “Disaster relief is one of the most effective — and cost-effective-tools in any nation’s diplomatic or political arsenal.” He makes the additional point that disaster relief is a “Wise investment in war on terror.”

Beyond and perhaps more important than diplomatic, political and antiterrorism advantages, Mr. Biden seems to suggest the United States has a “moral obligation” to provide foreign disaster relief and even supports President Bush’s decision to send U.S. military personnel on “missions of mercy” to fulfill that obligation. This raises an interesting question. Does Mr. Biden believe the salutary effects of, and the moral imperative for, U.S. disaster relief applies only to “natural disasters,” or does he think they also apply to “man-made disasters”?

Brad Maaske’s DVD “Weapon of Mass Destruction,” reveals that during Saddam Hussein’s despotic reign, more than 1.3 million people were slaughtered and entire towns destroyed.

If Mr. Biden believes the U.S. is morally bound to provide relief to countries and people afflicted by disasters, why wouldn’t that obligation apply to Iraq and Saddam’s victims?

Think about it. The best we can do in natural disasters is improve prediction and warning, and “reactively” support rescue and recovery. We can “batten down the hatches” but can do little to “prevent” natural disasters. Not so for man-made disasters. Given timely action, we have opportunities to actually prevent, or at least shorten, man-made disasters, and concomitant losses of life and property.



Illustrating this, in his article “Deadlier than war,” (The Washington Times, March 12, 2003), Walter Mead writes, “Based on Iraqi government figures, UNICEF estimates that containment kills roughly 5,000 Iraqi babies (children under 5 years of age) every month, or 60,000 per year.” Mr. Mead explains that “sanctions are inevitably the cornerstone of containment (the supposed alternative to the Iraq war), and that in Iraq, sanctions kill.” Since these deaths were directly attributable to Saddam’s diversion of oil revenues intended to relieve suffering but used to build palaces and support war-making ambitions, ending Saddam’s reign of terror lowered the curtain on this carnage against Iraq’s most defenseless citizens.

Overall, events of the last century prove even more dramatically that in lives lost, man-made disasters are far deadlier than natural ones. Under the Nazi’s, who decided individual rights were granted by the government, more than 50 million people were killed, among them 6 million Jewish victims of the Holocaust. Under the Russian communist government, another 62 million people were murdered between 1917 and 1987. And then Mao Tse-tung’s government killed 39 million Chinese, Tibetans and other minorities.

This all adds up to the loss of over 150 million people, who died when governments practiced terrorism, and the citizens were defenseless. As Thomas Jefferson warned: “When the government fear the people, there is liberty. When the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”

If Mr. Biden answered the question above, it’s likely he would agree that responding to man-made disasters is of equal or greater importance than responding to natural disasters, and that both cases impose an irrefutable obligation to provide as much assistance as possible. That being true, hopefully, this discussion establishes the single most important principle governing use of force in Iraq — or anywhere else. And that principle is that it is morally proper to use force to stop evil people from usurping basic human-rights, raping, maiming or killing innocent people, and that it is morally reprehensible when individuals or civil or military authorities who are able to prevent or curtail such atrocities, refuse to act.

It’s evident all foregoing observations and arguments relate directly to the raging debate about why we went to war in Iraq. Despite historical facts he had — and used — weapons of mass destruction (WMD) on his own people, the current debate hinges on the accuracy of intelligence reports that Saddam had such weapons when we entered Iraq.

Ignoring the moral obligation to free Iraqi people from Saddam’s murderous tyranny, liberal Democrats, including many members of Congress who strongly support natural disaster relief, nonetheless argue that, because we haven’t found WMD, Operation Iraqi Freedom was not only ill-advised but illegitimate. (Coming from the mouths of our lawmakers, how’s that for handing terrorists what may be the biggest enemy propaganda windfall in history?)

Brad Maaske, who contends Saddam himself was a weapon of mass destruction, is right. And the brave Americans in our military not only found him — they captured him and ended his massive powers of destruction.

Perhaps we should add to the current Iraqi Freedom debate the question of whether we had a moral obligation to liberate Iraq, with or without Saddam’s possession of inanimate WMDs.

JOSEPH A. PECAR

Silver Spring, Md.

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