Social and Political Commentary

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Who has been giving dangerous advice to our President?

 ... Decision making still rests with the leader

by Jackie Wattenberg

Autumn is upon us, thoughts of Thanksgiving and even Christmas are evident in stores and the ads we cannot avoid; we have our families and friends to divert our attention.

And yet the war in Iraq goes on. Our President may have believed it was over, but to the families of the young men lost during and since the war, to the thousand plus who lie seriously wounded in our hospitals here and over in Germany, the war is real and frightening. Only the men who created this war lie safe and content at night in Washington.

Why did our President and his advisors do this, with no weapons of mass destruction found, no ties between Saddam and 9/11, no securing of uranium by Saddam in Niger? Why did Congress allow this war? A few exceptions, of course, the few who railed against Bush's attack. The protests against this war demonstrated that the world felt it was wrong to begin a siege of bombing, killing, destroying -- is the rest of the world more humane, more advanced than we are?

Who are the men close to the President who may have influenced his decision, a decision condemned by the world's religious leaders and by the President's own Methodist bishops?

Their names have been bandied about for more than a dozen years. A group of men devoted to the "Project for a New American Century" have been feverishly urging the remaking of the whole Middle East, making sure that our nation remains against all odds the world's most powerful and richest, that all of the nations in the Middle East, with their vast oil and trade riches, do not compete with nor threaten our power and activities there.

Prior to the First Gulf War, Iraq possessed the best economy in that area, an economy that allowed full health care and free education to its citizens. Then Saddam Hussein grew ambitious, and may have been misled by an American diplomat, April Gillespie, into thinking that our nation would not mind if he stormed into Kuwait to take over some very nice oil wells. The rest is history, but history that did not include taking over the whole nation of Iraq and occupying it.

George Bush I chose not to conquer Iraq; he and his advisors, including Brent Scocroft, General Schwartzkopf and James Baker, did not wish to bring on the terrific problems and casualties that such an adventure would ensure. This disappointed the men who had been urging the American rearranging of the Middle East. Who are they? All are intelligent, educated, experienced men; here are some of them:

Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Eliot Abrams, Jeb Bush, Dick Cheney, William Kristol, John Bolton, and Lewis "Scooter" Libby.

Recognize some of these fellows? George W himself is missing. When these fellows were plotting their Middle East goals, W was maneuvering with a Texas baseball team. Brother Jeb, of course, is still in Florida. William Kristol is a very busy, very visible, editor, writer and pundit on the far right.

All of the others are in a happy, powerful place - The White House. Or nearby at the Pentagon. All are just where they wanted to be - nearby the President to advise him on his foreign policy. Are they so convincing in their beliefs that they triumphed in persuading our president to go to war with Iraq, a nation that had not offended us in any way? Of course Saddam was offensive to most of the world, but most of the world did not view warmaking as a good choice; many Americans saw going to war with a Muslim country, killing and wounding thousands of innocent Iraqi Muslims, as a sure way of drawing further Muslim hostility toward us, inciting terrorism.

Even the president's father and his early advisors did not support the decision to go to a second war within a year after the war in Afghanistan. But those advisors to George II have been outspoken in defending his action. During the Iraq War William Kristol said with no hesitation on TV news, "Once we finish this war with Iraq, we have to go into several other countries nearby there and do the same thing!" Similar defensive statements have come calmly and ever-so-thoughtfully from Paul Wolfowitz, assistant to Don Rumsfeld, and until recently from "Rummy" Rumsfeld himself, and all the others cited above.

Senator Ted Kennedy has unequivocally opposed this war. Yet to him was given an outstanding achievement award for national service by - incredibly, George Bush the First! This must have at least startled his presidential son. On a recent appearance with Larry King, even presidential mother Barbara Bush mentioned briefly and regretfully that some have been sought out for a good purpose but "so many others" along with them ... with no specifics, one can only assume she referred to the heavy losses in this "pre-emptive" war.

On a recent talk show, New York Times columnist, arch conservative William Safire commented that this Iraq War is "just the beginning" of the remaking of the Middle East. Just how dedicated are these neo-cons in accomplishing such a huge operation? How many of them would be willing to give their lives for such a change-over? It seems that to accomplish such a great change in that large and populous part of the world, these men would not worry about losses of American lives and lives of natives of the countries they wish to "change over."

President must see that another conquest and takeover to satisfy his ambitious advisors would be too difficult for Congress and the American citizens to accept. With daily killings of young soldiers in Iraq, the voting public is growing more and more anxious to end the occupation and bring our young military men and women home.

Members of the "Project for a new American Century" who are embedded in Bush's administration are not shy about hanging onto their grand ambitions about remaking the Middle East. The American citizens should tell their Senators and Representatives that it is not our job to remake any area of the world through the sacrifices of our soldiers and lives of those in far off countries. As President (formerly General) Eisenhower said, war takes away the help and rights of our children and all those in need.

As the world's super power, we must find other ways than war to lead the world.

November 7, 2003

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