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Wednesday, April 28, 2004

Legitimacy of resistance

‘‘Look, it can’t be fun to be occupied.’’

-- Paul Bremer, quoted on October 27, 2003

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

--That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,

--That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

-- The Declaration of Independence, July 4, 1776

Reuters is reporting an interview Al Jazeera television broadcast today with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. In the interview, Assad said the Iraqi resistance is legitimate:
"Certainly, what has happened on the popular level gives legitimacy to the resistance and shows that the major part of what is happening is resistance," Assad said in comments aired on Arabic satellite channel Al Jazeera.

"You are talking now about resistance which is against the occupation forces," Assad said. Asked if the resistance was legitimate, he said: "Well, of course, it's understood that way."
Assad is not alone. University of Illinois Law Professor Francis Boyle has been making this argument for awhile:
The Iraqi people have a right to use military force to resist US occupation consistent with the laws of war. I mean, they can’t target civilians but other than that they can certainly use military force to this illegal, criminal invasion.
Boyle has served as an attorney for the Palestinians in their legal struggle with Israel. Former Defense Policy Board member Richard Perle has previously agreed with Boyle that "international law ... would have required us to leave Saddam Hussein alone."

There are echoes, of course, of this "right to resistance" in the US Declaration of Independence:
Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.
Personally, though I recognize that self determination is a powerful motivating political force, I would strongly prefer that the various parties in Iraq work towards a non-violent solution to the civil and political breakdown.

President Bush seems to think that the Iraqi resistance is a perfectly natural response to their situation. Bush, recall, made a comment not all that different from Assad's in his April 13, 2004, prime time press conference:
they're not happy they're occupied. I wouldn't be happy if I were occupied either.
Right now, no one is happy.

To summarize: thousands of Iraqi innocents are losing their lives, they have no true liberty under occupation, and the President agrees they are not happy.

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