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

Saturday, December 20, 2003

Letter to Senator Nelson on Pre-War Lies

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Saturday, December 20th 2003

Dear Senator Nelson,

I was very interested to read the report in Florida Today in which you implied that an administration official lied to you and other Senators in a closed intelligence briefing in October 2002. This answers some questions about your vote to authorize the war in Iraq, while it raises others on your votes to continue funding it.

The University of Maryland PIPA polls on public attitudes to the war have consistently found a high correlation between support for the war and the kind of misperceptions you describe. Their most recent poll, published on November 13th, found that, like you, most Americans now realize that the President and other members of his administration lied to them to elicit support for the war. So, is it worse to lie to Senators in a closed briefing than to the whole world in televised speeches? More importantly, what has happened to our country that we find ourselves asking such questions?

You told Florida Today, “If that is an intelligence failure…we better find that out so we don’t have an intelligence failure in the future”. This begs the question, what kind of intelligence would protect our country from a president who is willing to lie to us in order to start a war? Ultimately, only our own education can empower us to recognize such lies, and only the unequivocal dissent of public figures can alert the general public to the nature of such a crisis.

I believe that a profound skepticism toward the foreign policy goals and methods of this administration was warranted from the outset. Many of its senior members had unabashedly made their radical views public through the Project for the New American Century and Mr. Rumsfeld’s partisan review of missile defense, which was drafted to undermine the Pentagon’s own objective report. In unguarded moments, George W. Bush thinks and speaks like a mobster (“Fuck Saddam. We’re gonna take him down.” “International law? I better call my lawyer”), and his first eight months in office were characterized by broken treaties and alienated allies until the world rallied around us in the wake of September 11th. It is one of the persistent lessons of history that it is a short step from chauvinist ideology and the violation of international treaties to outright aggression supported by cynical propaganda.

Public support for the war in Iraq and passive acceptance of Mr. Bush’s lies have not come about in a vacuum. They have been conditioned by the assent of leaders like you that has conveyed an air of normality or “business as usual” to what might otherwise be considered a national crisis. And you and your colleagues have encouraged the public to embrace President Bush’s irresponsible assumption that a half-a-trillion-dollar defense budget and neo-colonial wars can stop terrorism, while they are actually making it endemic and intractable.

I think it is worth considering how the public would have responded, or might still respond, if the Democratic delegation in the U.S. Congress were to unite around the proposition that this state of affairs is not acceptable. At this point, this would mean conducting no further business in the House or Senate until the sovereignty of Iraq is restored, under U.N. authority, not as a self-serving strategy but as a matter of international legality. The media would at first portray this as some kind of stunt, but as respected members of the Democratic Party, and even some Republicans (Jim Leach?), explained their position, I think people would start questioning their present acceptance of otherwise unacceptable conduct. And what about those polls and presidential approval ratings? They are based on the false sense of security that your conduct of “business as usual” conveys, so what do you think would happen to them?

But, then again, maybe you actually find all this acceptable. You were lied to; Iraq was invaded (with your approval, however obtained); Valerie Plame was outed as a spy; the occupation of Iraq is becoming more vicious, the violence on both sides more indiscriminate; our country is sinking further into debt; terrorism is spreading; long-term problems are accumulating unattended; and we’re losing our friends in an increasingly interdependent world. I guess it’s up to each one of us to decide what is unacceptable and what is normal or manageable. It’s just that, ultimately, what you decide will probably make more difference to the world than what I decide, so I hope that you will give this some thought.

Yours sincerely

Friday, December 05, 2003

Letter to Congress on Perle's Admission of Illegality

Senator Bill Nelson
716 Hart Senate Office Building
Washington DC 20510

Friday, December 5th, 2003

Dear Senator Nelson,

According to the enclosed article from the Guardian, Richard Perle told the Institute of Contemporary Arts in London that “international law would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone” and “I think in this case international law stood in the way of doing the right thing”. This was the frankest admission yet by any member of the Bush administration that the invasion of Iraq was a deliberate violation of the U.N. Charter.

A recent poll found that 71% of Americans would now support U.N. supervision of a political transition in Iraq, up from 50% in April. The great majority of people in other countries have held this view all along. Even amongst the people of Mr. Rumsfeld’s “New Europe”, pre-war support for “unilateral military action by the U.S. and its allies” was in the very low range of 4% (Macedonia) to 11% (Romania), while support for military action under a U.N. mandate ranged from 13% (Spain) up to 51% (the Netherlands) (Gallup International etc.).

Unfortunately, Mr. Rumsfeld still wants his four military bases in Iraq and a Status of Forces Agreement with a pro-U.S. Iraqi government, and corporate interests are still counting on the forced privatization of Iraqi industry to make this whole operation profitable. The administration cannot count on the U.N. to support such goals, so they are allowing the violence and “decomposition” to continue instead of ceding power.

The administration is responding to the Iraqi resistance by planning a faster transfer of power to Ahmad Chalabi and his colleagues, even though this means forgoing the “democratic” procedures that might (or might not!) have given them legitimacy in the eyes of their countrymen. The new timetable is rather transparently geared to creating an illusion of stability for a crucial few months next fall, after which the four years gained by reelection would allow the administration to take actions that they cannot possibly take now. These would include a draft in the U.S., massive repression in Iraq, and the next phase of the “War on Terror”, aimed at North Korea, Syria, Iran or even Cuba. The “lessons of Iraq” and increasing worldwide terrorism would be integrated into a rationale for further aggression.

Administration officials vigorously reject comparisons with Vietnam, and most of us firmly believe that our country learned the lessons of Vietnam and could never make the same mistakes again. In a recent article at, Gabriel Kolko explored the differences and similarities between these two crises. He noted differences in geography, history and politics between Vietnam and Iraq, but he found that U.S. policies and attitudes towards the two countries were strikingly similar.

In particular, he noted: -

a) The “cynical falsehoods” that were the pretexts for U.S. military action and the “credibility gap” and low troop morale that resulted from them.
b) The presumption that the people of an impoverished third world country could not possibly defeat “unprecedented” U.S. military power.
c) The disdain for the views of anyone who counseled caution based upon the limits of military power or knowledge of these countries and their cultures.
d) The reliance on unpopular leaders and unmotivated local troops to take over when the going gets rough. (In Afghanistan, more than 2,000 of the 6,000 soldiers NATO has trained have already quit.)
e) The inherent conflict between U.S. interests and the independent aspirations of the local people.
f) “Wars are ultimately won politically or not at all”.

Fortunately, the American people have learned the lessons of Vietnam even if our leaders have not. We will not sacrifice thousands of our sons and daughters to their folly, in Iraq or anywhere else on the Axis of Arrogance.

An opinion poll published in today’s Miami Herald asked voters in Florida to choose between “re-electing George W. Bush” and “voting for the eventual Democratic nominee”. 43% chose Bush, 37% chose the Democratic nominee, 14% didn’t know, and 6% chose “some other candidate”. In other words, presented with an explicit choice between a Republican and a Democrat, 6% of Floridians insisted that they would vote for anyone but a Republican or a Democrat, even though there are no other declared candidates in the race. Maybe it is time to introduce the Democratic Party to the radical idea that they could actually represent the American people, not just American corporations.

Yours sincerely