Social and Political Commentary

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Is any war a good war?

by Jackie Wattenberg

After 9/11, we were surrounded by friends. All the nations of the world sympathized with us and offered to help us find the terrorists. Probably an impossible task, since the President said that the terrorists were located in 68 countries.

But at least a few were found here and there, and the world was with us. Friends and neighbors who would certainly not spawn terrorism against us nor tolerate any known terrorists among their people.

Times have changed. Most of the world in now hostile to us. George W. Bush has set a record--for the biggest and most inclusive protests against war ever accomplished. He paid no attention when the Pope condemned another war, paid no attention when the Archbishop of Canterbury condemned the war, refused to even meet with his own bishops in the United Methodist church. His own bishop in Texas told me "He won't listen to anyone except those who agree with him". He and Tony Blair wanted this war. Why?

Does the Project for a New American Century have something to do with it?

How could it happen, when so much of the world did not want it, when so many Americans did not want it, when we know Iraq had done no harm to us, when the Iraqis did not want another war, their third in 20 years? Sorry now, the Democrats gave the war to Bush by voting for the POSSIBILITY of using force if the search for weapons of mass destruction did not work. But Bush and Blair refused to wait for a more thorough search to be done. The U.N. resolution that had warned against such weaponry did not state that if they were not found by a certain date that war would be declared.

We go easily to war. We accept the ghastly deaths of our own solders and the soldiers and civilians of another country. We see the bloody trails of the dead on our TV screens and can turn it off. We can watch the full coverage of the war with bodies of dead children and the gory frustration in hospitals where Iraqi wounded are arriving in such great numbers that the dollies can't be cleaned of blood, not enough anesthesia or other medicines are left to help them and many therefore will die. Water and electricity are scarce, causing more ills.

How could we do this--again?

Yes, the vicious leader Saddam will no doubt soon be gone. But so will many Iraqi children, men and women, soldiers too, killed by our own smart and overpowering weapons of mass destruction. Our own solders too, some dead, some wounded for life. A Cleveland minister has lost his only son, his only child; he early had opposed the war. What it comes down to is an old question--is war necessary? Is war acceptable? Almost all of the world's religions say NO. Why is our country the only one to wage so many wars? This is our 8th war since WWII, called "The Good War". The Vietnam War is now despised--our intercession in a civil war, losing 54,000 American soldiers, and says Robert MacNamara, at the time Defense Secretary who later turned against the war, killing 3,200,000 Vietnamese. Maybe Lyndon Johnson was following the example of Harry Truman who had interfered in the civil war of Korea with thousands of lives lost on all sides.

Ronald Reagan did not like a reformist government that took over in little Nicaragua that lost 40,000 citizens in a successful revolution to get rid of Somoza, a leader much like Saddam Hussein in his brutality, but supported by our presidents, from Roosevelt on. So Reagan persuaded our Congress to pay, supply and advise mercenary fighters from nearby counties to wage a terrorist war--targeting buses, clinics, infrastructure, etc, that killed 36,000 Nicaraguan children, men and women. This war was hardly covered except for the election afterwards, which our government arranged, forming a coalition of 11 different political parties to be sure that the single most popular party would be defeated. Hardly democratic.

Then came Grenada, a sort of joke by Reagan, then Bush No. 1 with the first Gulf War fought in conjunction with a broad coalition; then his amazing Panama invasion to kidnap that small country's leader, Noriega. We had a few casualties there, hundreds of Panamanians were killed, and six square blocks of homes destroyed. Clinton came in then, joining in a conflict of Bosnia and Somalia and continuing an established routine with England of bombing military sites in Iraq, but he started no war of his own.

The world pretty much accepted Geoge W. Bush's powerful attack on Afghanistan where he was certain the perpetrators of 9/11 came from and the oppressive Taliban government reigned. There were some reports of our excessive bombing, and careless targeting of a wedding party, but that war was more or less accepted around the world.

But then--against the sentiment of the whole world--another horrible war? Losing the friendship of the world? Forgetting Osama bin Laden? He was successfully merged into Saddam Hussein, but he and his fellow terrorists are still alive and well in those 68 countries. And the fanatic Muslims who have hated us before are surely further antagonized by our attack on innocent Muslims in Iraq. Just check out the many terrorist even before the new war, four attacks on our soldiers lined up in Kuwait. What's next for us now?

Many nations, and many Americans, are worried about the President's plans for the Middle East. Who's next? How powerful and dangerous is the Project for a New American Century that has been bandied about, but not widely discussed? As researched by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and described in a few publications and by Ted Koppel, it consists of a group of ambitious men focusing on the wealth of the Middle East: George and Jeb Bush, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld and his assistant Paul Wolfowitz, plus another Defense advisor, well-know hawk Richard Perle, Vice President Cheney, Secretary Colin Powell, plus outsider William Kristol, the conservative writer and TV pundit. The majority are secure right in the White House.

These men reportedly are interested in gaining control of the Middle East as once Great Britain held power. Thus Iraq is a head start for them, if reports are true. William Kristol openly said recently on TV that "When we are through in Iraq we have to do the same" in many nations in the Middle East. Many voices are saying that we want to control Iraqi oil, but there are also valuable water routes, the Tigris and Euphrated Rivers, dams that could be altered to advantage and trade activities.

We are ending our eighth war since WWII. Will the American people willingly go on to another? Will we learn a lesson from the European nations that have ceased their war-making and formed a peaceful Union? Could our religious leaders convince us to passing a law as Japan has--that forbids making war?

Our president often speaks of sharing our "American values" with the world. What "values" does the world see most clearly?

If we want a New American Century, can't it be a century of peace and healthcare and free education for all of our childen, and an end of worries of senior citizens about paying for drugs, food or rent? Most of the world, even Saddam Hussein, have had national health care for all of their citizens and free education--can't we with our vast wealth spend it on these benefits for our own people instead of on war machinery that the whole world now fears?

Some indication that the Project for a New American Century is on its way are the plans already divulged that Halliburton Corporation, of which Cheney was CEO, and Bechtel, with which several of the above have been associated, will be in charge of some of the rebuilding in Iraq following our war's destruction. This designation has provoked Great Britain and other U.N. nations to speak of other countries being part of the reconstruction, including Iraq itself.

But Colin Powell has said that since we have spent so much effort and funded the war that we "expect to have dominance" in post-war projects. Rumsfeld has echoed this conviction, citing our "blood" expended.

The new 21st century, off to a violent start. We must all, in representative United States, tell our senators and representatives that we, like the great religious leaders of the world, want our country to be the master of peace and compassion, not the master of military might and devastation that the world fears.  

May 2, 2003

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