I want to be opposed to this war. I really do. I find the rhetoric coming out of the Bush administration to be very troubling. Its cavalier attitude toward death and military operations is disturbing, to say the least.
I don’t trust the Bush administration. If its domestic agenda is any guide, our country’s leadership is disconnected from the real needs of its citizens. It is a policy made up of half-truths and misguided ideas with laughable “compassion” but ample “conservatism” that will end up depriving Americans of jobs, financial security, freedom and opportunity.
As much as I tend to disagree with everything Bush proposes, I am not 100 percent against war with Iraq. It would be a bad thing if Saddam Hussein developed weapons of mass destruction. That fact should be indisputable. It would also be a bad thing if Hussein (and other world leaders for that matter) are allowed to violate past treaties and agreements without punishment.
I can imagine scenarios, not too far removed from the present, in which war with Iraq could be justified. If Hussein is found to have lied and hidden weapons of mass destruction and if he refuses to disarm peacefully, then military action can be justified.
Much of the reason I am wary of this war is that it seems to have been coming since day one. Days after Sept. 11, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and others were chomping at the bit to attack Iraq. Since then, the push to attack has only increased in fervor. War back then with Iraq would have been unjustifiable. We had no evidence. The inspectors hadn’t looked around. The Bush administration’s push to attack Iraq could be explained as a quest for oil or personal revenge. For a year, that was the real reason for the gallop to war.
But then the Bush administration got lucky. Purely through coincidence, other reasons for war have presented themselves. The weapons inspectors have hinted that Iraq has been less than forthcoming. Today, Secretary of State Colin Powell is to deliver a one-hour speech where he is expected to reveal new, more damning evidence.
If we end up finding proper justification for going to war, Bush and his advisors will be seen as visionaries. “After all,” people will say, “they saw the threat long before the rest of the world.” But they didn’t. They rashly chose Iraq as an enemy for different reasons than seen now. We should go to war against Iraq if Iraq violates its agreements, not because, as we were incorrectly saying a year ago, they have links to al-Qaida.
I don’t agree with Bush’s insistence that we will attack alone if necessary. If we can’t convince a majority of our allies, our case is too weak to justify war. We need to move slowly and with international support.
There should be no denying the popular opposition to war, both here and abroad, that has done much to slow the rush to war. While many of the protesters would like to halt the war entirely, they should be lauded for creating strong pressure on the United States to give the weapons inspectors time and to secure the cooperation of other countries through the United Nations. If in the end, they don’t halt the war, their continued protest can still be a success if the United States and its allies use war only as the very last option.
As soon as countries acquire weapons of mass destruction, things change forever. Look to North Korea. By all accounts, the bellicosity flowing out of the peninsula is only given weight because of its nuclear arsenal. North Korea can blackmail South Korea and through Seoul, the United States. Its people are starving; its humanitarian record is horrifying. There should be no denying that the more countries that possess nuclear weapons, the greater the likelihood they will be used.
The Bush administration is dangerous. The case isn’t established yet for attacking Iraq. Bush seems to think he needs to act slowly and overwhelmingly build up our reasons for attacking. He cites reasons the public can quickly dismiss as foolish propaganda. Reasons like, “We want to install a democracy so the Iraqi people can live freely” or “Hussein may have harbored an al-Qaida terrorist” or “In 1988 Hussein used chemical weapons on his own people” are dumb, somewhat contrived reasons for war.
The real reason we should go to war is if – and only if – the weapons inspectors find evidence of non-compliance with Hussein’s promise to disarm and peaceful means are exhausted. If that happens, the case for war will make itself. Until then, we all need to heed the words of French President Jacques Chirac, who said yesterday, “There is still much to be done in the way of disarmament by peaceful means, (but) we have to disarm Iraq (and) this has to be undertaken within the Security Council of the United Nations.”
Piskor can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.