Nicolas J S Davies

A collection of published articles and letters to policymakers regarding the crisis in United States foreign policy by Nicolas J S Davies.

Location: North Miami, Florida, United States

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Letter to Congress on State of the Union Speech

The Hon. Kendrick Meek
1039 Longworth H.O.B.
Washington DC 20515

Thursday, January 30, 2003

Dear Kendrick,

In the State of the Union address, President Bush once again made his case for an invasion of Iraq. He accused Iraq of trying to buy uranium from a country in Africa; of buying aluminum tubes to make centrifuges to enrich uranium; of hiding 29,984 chemical weapons artillery shells and thousands of gallons of anthrax and botulin. What he did not say was that the effort to buy uranium in Niger took place in the 1980s; that the IAEA has concluded that the aluminum tubes were for 81 mm rockets and were not suitable for use in centrifuges; that the 16 chemical shells that have been found contained no trace of chemicals; and that biological agents manufactured ten or fifteen years ago would almost certainly have deteriorated below weapons grade by now.

How can President Bush stand in front of the American people and the world and present evidence that he knows to be insubstantial and false to make a case for the unprecedented preemptive invasion of another country? This was an abuse of our trust and respect for the presidency. And if this is the type of evidence that Mr. Powell is going to present to the U.N. Security Council, he can hardly expect their support.

I commend Mr. Bush for his proposal to fund the fight against AIDS in Africa. However, in last year’s State of the Union address, he promised an increase of $5 billion per year in non-military aid to developing countries, but has failed to include it in subsequent budget requests. We currently spend 0.1% of GDP to help the underprivileged around the world, one seventh of the amount requested by the U.N. to support sustainable third world development. Please ensure that the U.S. government delivers at least the minimal amounts of aid that the president has promised.

It is no coincidence that our problems with Iraq and North Korea have come to a head since September, when the administration issued its controversial policy statements regarding the preemptive and unilateral use of military force. These policies undermine the guarantees of national sovereignty contained in the U.N. Charter, and would effectively reduce the world to 180 countries and about 16,000 bilateral relationships in which either side had better take preemptive military action before its enemy does (as North Korea is threatening to do). U.S. military power cannot take the place of multilateral treaties as the arbiter of world order while still primarily serving U.S. interests, and this contradiction can never be resolved. We should therefore be working to strengthen the international system of multilateral treaties and organizations, not scrapping them in favor of a return to the law of the jungle.

Lastly, please support Rep. Kucinich’s bill to establish a U.S. Department of Peace. This would be a much-needed vehicle to explore non-military solutions to many of our problems.

Yours sincerely

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Letter to Congress on Danger of War

Senator Bill Nelson
United States Senate
Washington DC 20510

Saturday, January 18, 2003

Dear Senator Nelson,

I just came home from a peace rally in downtown Miami attended by about 400 or 500 people, where we heard from, among others, a young Iraqi from Basra who had survived the Iran-Iraq war, U.S. carpet-bombing of his city, and the Iraqi reprisals after the Shiite uprising. He and the other speakers were eloquent and educational in their denunciations of past and present U.S. policy towards Iraq.

There seems to be some urgency to speak out now against Mr. Bush’s plans for war, while there is still a chance that strong public opposition can avert a tragedy for our country, Iraq and the world. Mr. Bush is an astute politician, and has already been deterred once from acting without U.N. approval by common sense from Colin Powell and Tony Blair. He has walked a fine line between the warmongers and the more realistic members of his cabinet, and kept his options open, but the momentum towards war continues, Iraq is already being bombed on an almost daily basis, and the lack of evidence of Iraqi weapons development is becoming embarrassing. The president clearly feels pressure from his right-wing constituents to go to war before his whole case unravels, and he must be persuaded that he will pay a greater political price for rash action than for defusing the crisis he has created.

On Christmas Day, I spoke to my father, who was a doctor in the Royal Navy for 25 years (and has voted Conservative his whole life!), and he is incredulous that senior U.S. officials are advocating a preemptive war of invasion against Iraq. As every combat veteran knows, and Jimmy Carter said in his Nobel Lecture, “War can be a necessary evil; but it is always an evil, never a good”. Has this country been so shielded from the reality of war that people here can question such an obvious truth? Do we have to subject the men and women of our armed forces and the people of Iraq to the horror of war and military occupation in order to learn one more time the clearest lesson of history? If we do, then so be it, but let us learn it so well this time that we never forget it again! And, if this dose of reality brings about a serious re-evaluation of U.S. national security interests and policy, then maybe it will mark a low point from which we will rise up again as a more humane and intelligent society, better able to cooperate and live peacefully with the other countries of the world.

Please think seriously about what you can do to inform and educate public opinion about this situation, and please use whatever influence you may have in Washington to restore humanity and reason to the government of our country.

Yours sincerely

Saturday, January 04, 2003

Letter of Introduction to Congressman Meek

The Hon. Kendrick Meek
1039 Longworth House Office Building
Washington DC 20515

Saturday, January 4th, 2003

Dear Kendrick,

Congratulations on your election to Congress! You have represented us so well in Tallahassee that I am sure you will accomplish great things for us and for our country in Washington. I am a naturalized American; I was born in Sri Lanka when my father was a doctor in the British Royal Navy, and I grew up mostly in the U.K. My wife, Debby, and I have lived in Miami since 1979 and raised our family here. I am very concerned about the overall direction of U.S. foreign policy and I have exchanged letters with your mother about these concerns, and this letter is essentially a reprint of one of the last letters I sent her before her retirement.

I would like to express some thoughts on the broad question of U.S. national security in the post-cold war world. I believe it is time for all of us in this country, and, by default, Democrats in particular, to start to re-examine the primarily military definition of national security that currently predominates. After September 11th, President Bush’s initial military response was at least minimally appropriate, and did succeed in destroying the Al Quaeda camps in Afghanistan. However, the continuation of his aggressive military foreign policy is undermining the most basic foundation of the security of our nation, which is the respect and goodwill of ordinary people all over the world.

While we are spending $400 billion per year on defense, we spend less than $10 billion on non-military foreign aid. No objective person could look at this and conclude that our goals are genuinely altruistic. The end of the Cold War presented us with an opportunity to work towards disarmament and peace, and we instead set out to make our country into an impregnable fortress, protected by unchallengeable military superiority and high-tech weapons. This policy was driven by our own insecurity and by a vested interest in our Cold War defense infrastructure, and it was understandable and hopefully forgivable, but it is time to admit that we have not succeeded and that this policy is morally and practically flawed.

The realistic successful outcome of our present policy would be a world armed to the teeth and always on the brink of war, with actual wars breaking out frequently and unpredictably and with ever-increasing technological ferocity. And we would be responsible for much of this violence; we sell more weapons to developing countries than all of our competitors combined, we promote their use by our own reliance on military force, and we have undermined all international efforts to place limits on the arms trade. The notion that our country can remain safe and untouched by the destructive forces we unleash on the rest of the world is morally bankrupt, besides being simply foolish. If it were not Al Quaeda, someone else would make the point. Ultimately, we are on a collision course with the entire international community, who will sooner or later have the economic leverage to demand that we change our behavior. But even if we could succeed in such a Faustian policy, is this really the world we want?

I believe that this entire policy has been morally flawed from its inception in the first Bush administration and that its practical flaws are now becoming apparent. I also believe that it is not too late to formulate a new policy that leads our country and the world towards real peace and gradual disarmament through mutual understanding and multilateralism. People all over the world have always respected and supported our country whenever it has stood up for the best in human nature, from its founding on that very principle to its stand against twentieth century totalitarianism. It is time for us to take another stand.

To translate this commitment into actual policy, we must commit ourselves to working with the international community on a wide range of issues; aid to the developing world; the International Criminal Court; weapons proliferation and disarmament; fair trade practices; the Middle East and other regional crises; as well as terrorism, whose root causes would finally be addressed by such policies. The domestic political and economic interests that would initially resist such a change would ultimately benefit from the “peace dividend” (remember the 90’s?). Our government could turn its attention and its resources to the needs of our people (such as health-care), and our companies could expand their business in a more peaceful and prosperous world.

Is it only a dream? That’s up to you and your colleagues in the Democratic Party.

Yours sincerely