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   Bush's "Shoot First Doctrine" Comes Home to Roost

A LAWYER'S OPINION:

Bush's “Shoot First Doctrine” Comes Home to Roost

by William Hughes

It is an axiomatic principle of the law that it is wrong for any individual to use lethal force against another person, unless "he reasonably believes it is necessary to defend himself or a third person from the imminent use of unlawful physical force by such a person." For the use of deadly force to be used in self defense, objective standards of "reasonableness" must be applied.

At press time, George Bush' "Shoot First Doctrine" has, in a strange way, come home to roost. Of course, no one in the Establishment controlled media would dare equate the White House's ghastly new military doctrine of preemption (first announced at West Point on June 1, 2002), to the m.o. of the "Beltway Sniper," the nutty vigilante, now stalking the nation's capital and environs. But, the similarities are frighteningly on point.

The "Beltway Sniper" appears demented. His (or her) bullets, however, are hitting their marks with deadly accuracy. Since October 2, this lunatic has created mayhem in the Washington, D.C. area. A series of sniper attacks have taken six lives as of October 7, and wounded two others. This is what random violence looks like in all of its raw cruelty.

A serial killer profiler has theorized that the sniper is doing the slaughtering because he likes "playing God." Whatever the reasons, this wacky individual is applying his own illegal and immoral "Shoot First Doctrine."

It is an axiomatic principle of the law, repeated in the notorious 1984 Bernie Goetz subway shooting case, that it is wrong for any individual to use lethal force against another person, unless "he reasonably believes it is necessary to defend himself or a third person from the imminent use of unlawful physical force by such a person." For the use of deadly force to be used in self defense, objective standards of "reasonableness" must be applied. In other words, it is not what the shooter "perceives" as a threat, since this would allow someone suffering from delusions to "kill or perform acts of violence with impunity, contrary to fundamental principles of justice and criminal law."

These principles of self defense generally apply as well to the laws between nations. "A nation is justified in using force only when it has been attacked or is about to be attacked. The acquisition of weapons of mass destruction, or the attempt to acquire them, does not come close to imminent attack." (The Progressive, August, 2002 issue).

Phil Berrigan, the Anti-Nuke Movement prophet, once put it succinctly, when he labeled the possible death of life on the planet by a nuclear weapons exchange as "Omnicide." He added, "And, it will all be legal, too, and what does that say about our legal system?"

On reflection, Bush's wild west "Shoot First Doctrine" is even scarier than the wantonness of the "Beltway Sniper." The reason is obvious. The president, although not a madman, is nevertheless in control of an enormous amount of weapons of mass destruction that can kill hundreds of thousands of innocent victims and even destroy the world itself. Phil Berrigan, the Anti-Nuke Movement prophet, once put it succinctly, when he labeled the possible death of life on the planet by a nuclear weapons exchange as "Omnicide." He added, "And, it will all be legal, too, and what does that say about our legal system?"

Bush intends to destroy any country that possesses weapons of mass destruction or tries to acquire them, if he believes (or his aides, such as the Dr. Strangelove-like Paul Wolfowitz, believe), that they are engaging in or aiding terrorism. This means that nuclear powers, like Russia and China, are potentially on a U.S. nuclear hit list; and Arab regimes, such as Iran, Libya and Syria, that may have chemical or biological weapons, are also fair game to be pulverized by the Bushies. Of course, the White House will insist on vaporizing Iraq before taking on the bigger game. Naturally, any country that feels threatened by Bush's bellicosity might consider striking the U.S. first out of a sense of self preservation. Who could blame them?

Naturally, any country that feels threatened by Bush's bellicosity might consider striking the U.S. first out of a sense of self preservation. Who could blame them?

Another fanatical advocate of the "Shoot First Doctrine" is Israel's Ariel Sharon. On the same day, Oct. 7, that a Bowie, Maryland youth was being gunned down by the "Beltway Sniper," Sharon was employing more terror in the Israeli Occupied Territories. With the use of tanks and helicopters, his forces, without any genuine provocation, rained down a torrent of missiles (probably paid for by US taxpayers) into a large crowd of civilians at Khan Younis, in the Gaza Strip. According to AP reports, 14 Palestinians were killed and 110 others wounded. The dead "ranged in age from 14 to 52." Later, the Israeli military thugs fired "machine guns and assault rifles at the Nasser hospital where most of the wounded were taken." The Israelis' lame excuse for their latest war crime: "Palestinian militants were responsible for the casualties because they were looking for cover among civilians."

Keep in mind, too, that cowboy Bush has called the seriously deranged Sharon "A Man of Peace." Well, what do you expect from a White House whose mouthy press secretary, Ari Fleischer, on Oct. 1, suggested that someone in Iraq assassinate Saddam Hussein? When discussing the potential cost of a U.S. invasion of Iraq, the vulgarian said, "The cost of one bullet, if the Iraq people take it on themselves is substantially less than that." This is the kind of crass dialogue you expect to hear on HBO's "Sopranos" and not from a federal official.

After Bush's ill-conceived June 1 "Shoot First" policy announcement, I think it is fair to say that the world is a much more dangerous place. This is especially so with egregious loose cannons, like Wolfowitz, Sharon and Fleischer, also running amok on the world's stage.


© William Hughes 2002

William Hughes is the author of "Andrew Jackson vs. New World Order" (Authors Choice Press) and "Baltimore Iconoclast" (Writer's Showcase), which are available online. He can be reached at liamhughes@mindspring.com.


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This story was published on October 10, 2002.
  
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