Social and Political Commentary

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Identifying Reasons for War

 ... was this war necessary?

by Jackie Wattenberg

Until now, most of the country has supported the President's war in Iraq, his ratings remaining quite high. Surprising support, considering the vast protests to the war that occurred all across our country and the world.

But recently several events, close upon each other, have raised sharp questions about justification for the war. Saddam Hussein has had few defenders, and his capture was welcomed. But what of the deaths of more than 500 of our young soldiers, severe wounds and illnesses of more than 9,000, plus 21 suicides of our service men and women? Were they honestly told why they were being sent halfway around the world to a strange and dangerous country?

We were not attacked by Iraq, and President Bush and Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld said months ago that there was no connection between Saddam and 9/11, so what was the urgency of bombing innocent citizens of this unfortunate land? The urgency, said our president, was that Saddam had "weapons of mass destruction," which, said Prime Minister Tony Blair of England, could be sent our way in just 45 minutes. Scary!

Much of the world and the U.N. did not approve our pre-emptive action, but the President appeared totally dedicated to the need for war, and most Americans went along with it, waving flags, voicing support for our troops. As George McGovern said on TV, the citizens who praise a war and wave our flags appear to be more patriotic than those who oppose a war. Yet, the chief opponent, Howard Dean, made early headway by defiantly protesting this war.

Coming to the fore now to question the provocations for war: First, the study by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, hardly a reckless organization, that concluded there had been no weapons of mass destruction sufficient in Iraq to justify our waging war. A few days of interest by the news media. Then came the astonishing words of former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill that as soon as the Bush team settled into the White House, well before 9/11, they focused on how they could attack Iraq. A few days more of this story in the media, a book about his views ordered by our library.

A few days after Mr. O'Neill drifted into the wings, David Kay, just retiring after about 12 years as head of our Iraq inspectors, took center stage. A staunch Republican and Bush supporter, he firmly stated that no weapons of mass destruction were found, and had not existed for some years, thus somehow the Intelligence has been seriously off base. He supports the idea of an investigation of the Intelligence problems.

Is the Intelligence to blame? Or was the much-respected Paul O'Neill right in recalling the drive for war with Iraq as an early goal of Bush's Cabinet? And who were the advisors of that group? The "Project for a New American Century," described in detail in the new book by George Soros, "The Bubble of American Supremacy," that Jeb Bush, the President's brother, but not George himself, had been a charter member of this Project when established in 1992. Their goal was grandiose - to remake the Middle East to our American wishes, to assure our supremacy and to "challenge" any nation hostile to us.

A few of those ambitious members now surrounding our President: Dick Cheney, Don Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz, Elliot Abrams, Lewis "Scooter" Libby, along with new recruit holding the same ambition - Richard Perle. We will never know for certain if these men pressured the President to attack Iraq, even before stabilizing Afghanistan that is still chaotic and dangerous, or if George Bush was himself anxious for his second war.

What we do know is that more than 500 healthy young Americans will never enjoy life, love and the Pursuit of Happiness; 9,000 are severely wounded or ill, and between 8 and 10 thousand Iraqis are dead, some children burned to death or blown apart, one man grieving on TV that "You killed 6 of my family when you bombed my house!"

Former presidential candidate Dick Gephardt fully supported the war; young John Edwards still supports it; Dennis Kucinich voted against the war and Al Sharpton opposed it. General Wesley Clark criticizes the war all the time. Sen. John Kerry has tried to squirm out of his vote for the resolution, saying he had expected the U.N. participation, and he has since strongly opposed the war and the conditions in Iraq.

Some Americans have promised to fly their flags when our nation brings our young people home and turns away from war, unfurling their flags of Peace.

February 6, 2004


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