"On November 2nd, we'll learn which shall prevail in this election year: The
"test" of Jefferson - to "let Facts be submitted to a candid world" - or the
tactics of a demagogue trying to hide his own High Crimes with spin and Big
Who Was Right About the "Global Test"- Jefferson or Hitler?
Posted October 6, 2004 thepeoplesvoice.org
By: Thom Hartmann
"I can thank God at this moment that He has so wonderfully blessed us in our
hard struggle for what is our right..."
Adolf Hitler, Speech in Berlin, October 6, 1939
The day after his first debate with John F. Kerry, in a speech before a
handpicked and adoring audience, George W. Bush recalled a moment from the
"One other point I want to make about the debate last night," he said.
"Senator Kerry last night said that America has to pass some sort of global
test before we can use American troops to defend ourselves. He wants our
national security decisions subject to the approval of a foreign
At that mention of Kerry, Bush was interrupted by loud boos from the
audience. Grinning broadly, he continued: "Listen, I'll continue to work
with our allies and the international community, but I will never submit
America's national security to an international test. The use of troops to
defend America must never be subject to a veto by countries like France."
Bush concluded, saying, "The President's job is not to take an international
In the days since the debate, that clip and its related Bush spin has been
replayed so much and so often by the media that it's likely more Americans
have heard it than heard the original debate itself. And of those who heard
the debate, by this time most have probably forgotten Senator Kerry's actual
words, and only a few may have noticed the impeachable High Crime committed
by George Bush to which they pointed.
It started when the moderator, Jim Lehrer, asked Kerry: "What is your
position on the whole concept of preemptive war?"
Kerry answered, "The president always has the right, and always has had the
right, for preemptive strike. That was a great doctrine throughout the Cold
War. And it was always one of the things we argued about with respect to
"No president, through all of American history, has ever ceded, and nor
would I, the right to preempt in any way necessary to protect the United
States of America.
"But if and when you do it, Jim, you have to do it in a way that passes the
test, that passes the global test where your countrymen, your people
understand fully why you're doing what you're doing and you can prove to the
world that you did it for legitimate reasons."
Kerry had made no mention of any sort of a "test" that required the
agreement of the world, and no mention of France whatsoever. He simply laid
out the very practical, truly American, and intrinsically honest concept
that has guided American foreign policy for over 229 years:
The people of a nation must be able to both understand and explain their
actions, particularly when they involve war.
Thomas Jefferson understood this principle when he wrote - in the very first
sentence of the Declaration of Independence - that "a decent respect to the
opinions of mankind requires that they [the colonists] should declare the
causes which impel them to the separation."
Before listing his bill of particulars against King George III, Jefferson
again made the point: "To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid
It's become a long tradition with American presidents, as well it should be.
On June 19, 1812, President James Madison laid out to his countrymen and the
world his "four major reasons" for declaring the War of 1812.
On July 7, 1863, Abraham Lincoln restated part of his rationale for going to
war, saying, "now ... we have a gigantic Rebellion, at the bottom of which
is an effort to overthrow the principle that all men are created equal."
Woodrow Wilson, in calling Congress together on April 2, 1917 to request
their consent to a declaration of war, explicitly said, "While we do these
things, these deeply momentous things, let us be very clear, and make very
clear to all the world what our motives and our objects are."
Franklin D. Roosevelt's request to Congress for a declaration of war on
December 11, 1941, needed only to remind America and the world that we were
not the aggressors. Indeed, Roosevelt said, "On the morning of Dec. 11 the
Government of Germany, pursuing its course of world conquest, declared war
against the United States," and "Italy also has declared war against the
Perhaps the real reason Bush is willing to lie about Kerry's comments is
because Bush himself has failed the moral and legal test that has guided
nations in times of war since the beginning of civilization. And, in doing
so intentionally, Bush committed a crime against both the American people
and against the world community.
In giving the President the authority to use force against Iraq - the
fateful authorization that Kerry voted for - Congress laid out with absolute
clarity the test Bush would have to pass before he could wage war against
"In connection with the exercise of the authority granted in subsection (a)
to use force," the congressional resolution states, "the President shall,
prior to such exercise or as soon there after as may be feasible, but no
later than 48 hours after exercising such authority, make available to the
Speaker of the House of Representatives and the President pro tempore of the
Senate his determination that:
"(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful
means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of
the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not
likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security
Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and
"(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States
and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against
international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those
nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or
aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001."
Bush claimed to have passed the test, submitting over his signature, on
March 18, 2003, a letter to Congress in which he wrote,
"Consistent with section 3(b) of the Authorization for Use of Military Force
Against Iraq Resolution of 2002 (Public Law 107-243), and based on
information available to me, including that in the enclosed document, I
"(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic and other peaceful
means alone will neither (A) adequately protect the national security of the
United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq nor (B) likely
lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council
resolutions regarding Iraq; and
"(2) acting pursuant to the Constitution and Public Law 107-243 is
consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the
necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist
organizations, including those nations, organizations, or persons who
planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred
on September 11, 2001."
Both were clear lies, and he knew it at the time. Bush betrayed our trust,
and the trust of the international community.
The UN inspection teams had pointed out that they were encountering no
resistance whatsoever to their investigations, and that they were not
finding any evidence that weapons of mass destruction had survived since the
Gulf War of 1991 or the final 1998 weapons destructions authorized by
President Clinton and carried out by Scott Ritter's team (and followed by a
final series of American bombing raids on suspect sites).
Now we learn that even the CIA and others among Bush's most senior
advisors - at the time he was telling Congress and the world Saddam
represented a nuclear threat - were telling him that Iraq was probably not
rebuilding its nuclear capacity. As the New York Times reported on October
3, 2004 ("How the White House Embraced Disputed Arms Intelligence" by David
Barstow, William J. Broad and Jeff Gerth), "Senior administration officials
repeatedly failed to fully disclose the contrary views of America's leading
nuclear scientists" about the existence or non-existence of an Iraqi nuclear
The UN weapons inspectors - and every other member of the Security Council
with the exception of Great Britain - were also expressing doubts about the
existence of weapons or the danger Iraq may pose. Bush had to rush to war
unilaterally because there was no agreement - even among the normally close
members of the Security Council - that oil-rich Iraq represented a threat of
any consequence to anybody.
And not only had no evidence come up linking Iraq to 9/11, but, to the
contrary, it was becoming increasingly obvious to the world that Saddam
Hussein and Osama Bin Laden hated each other and had, as the 9/11 Commission
concluded, "no operational links" whatsoever to each other.
As former Nixon White House counsel John Dean forcefully pointed out in a
discussion on my radio program recently, the written lies submitted to
Congress by George W. Bush to justify invading Iraq constitute a crime
easily worthy of prosecution and impeachment. "Worse than Watergate," was
Dean's shorthand pronouncement, as well as the title of the book he wrote
about the incident.
"Bush deliberately violated the very authorization that he sought from
Congress," Dean said both on the air and in his book, adding that this "was
not merely a serious breach of faith with a trusting Congress, but a
statutory and constitutional crime."
Thus it should surprise nobody that Bush would now rush to change the
subject, to surround his lies with the fog of rhetoric about "permission
from France." If Republicans lose the House or Senate, he may find himself
in a criminal docket.
While Kerry didn't mention that the President had committed a High Crime,
Bush's advisors knew immediately the danger such a discussion may bring to
him. Should Democrats take control of the House or Senate, they could then
investigate how Bush's betrayal of our trust has led to the death and
maiming of tens of thousands of human beings.
He had to quickly change the topic.
Commentators in the media, noting Bush's distortion of Kerry's words, and
how that distortion is now being used so aggressively in Bush campaign ads,
glibly quote prizefighter Jack Dempsey's famous line, "The best defense is a
But the quote more likely on the minds of Bush and his handlers comes from
the last leader of a major industrial power who led his nation to war on a
pretense based in lies.
"Thus we may explain the fact that since 1918 the men who have held the
reins of government adopted an entirely negative attitude towards foreign
affairs and the business of the State," noted Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf.
This was possible, he said, because at least a third of "the masses of our
people, whose sheepish docility corresponds to their want of
intelligence...just submit to it because they are too stupid to understand."
Confident that a cowed media won't call him on it, and that with enough fog
about "French permission" that the American people won't remember Kerry's
actual words or the text of Bush's war letter to Congress, the Bush campaign
continues their Big Lie strategy.
On November 2nd, we'll learn which shall prevail in this election year: The
"test" of Jefferson - to "let Facts be submitted to a candid world" - or the
tactics of a demagogue trying to hide his own High Crimes with spin and Big Lies.
Thom Hartmann (thom at thomhartmann.com) is a
Project Censored Award-winning best-selling author and host of a nationally
syndicated daily progressive talk show that runs in 57 markets from
His most recent books are "The
Last Hours of Ancient Sunlight," "We
The People: A Call To Take Back America," and "What
Would Jefferson Do?: A Return To Democracy."