War with Iraq signals
disastrous policy shift
This column was written August 1, 2002 and published on the S-T editorial pages August 4, 2002...
Congress and the press are starting to debate whether or not we should go to war with Iraq on the basis of our suspicions about what "evil" Saddam Hussein might do. But whether we go to war with Iraq or not is minor when compared with the massive foreign policy shift such a war would signal.
And this is no accident. Iraq is merely the first example of a major change in foreign policy that could be the worst thing this country ever did. The President has been dropping hints about such a change since January. He favors a new doctrine of "strike first," or "pre-emption." It is a doctrine that is rife with overwhelming moral, legal, and foreign policy issues.
Monstrous policy shift
It is an enormous shift of direction for this country that past presidents have toyed with, but none has come out openly and advocated.
It is a doctrine that opens the door for China, Russia, or whomever to follow suit. If you are big and strong, strike first - then claim you did so because you suspected the weaker guy was planning to attack you. Not logical, but if we do it, why can't they?
It is a doctrine that is being justified by the September 11 attacks, even though those attacks arose from no country. Not a single September 11 terrorist hailed from Iraq, yet Iraq is the first country we want to unleash this "strike first" policy on. Have you heard any talk about attacking Saudi Arabia? Of course not. Saudia Arabia is our "friend." Yet 15 of the September 11 terrorists came from Saudi Arabia, as did their leader. Why do we ignore that nasty detail?
Wag the dog? Uh uh!
At first I thought this war on Iraq talk was merely a "wag the dog" scenario. President Bush, falling in the polls , stuck with a shrinking economy, and having to preside over sending a few of his old business buddies to jail, needs a distraction. But that is not the case. This is a planned policy shift.
In the State of the Union speech he warned: "I will not wait on events while dangers gather." On June 1 at the US military academy he said: "We must take the battle to the enemy, disrupt his plans, and confront the worst threats before they emerge. In the world we have entered, the only path to safety is the path of action. And this nation will act."
This is scary stuff. It sounds bold, but Hitler sounded bold. Boldness
is amoral. I'm still with Ben Franklin who declared, "There never
was a good war, nor a bad peace."
We think Hussein is building weapons of mass destruction, perhaps even atomic weapons. We dont know this. We admit our intelligence agencies can't be sure. These are the same agencies that failed to warn us about September 11, yet we will use their guesses as an excuse to strike first.
Our allies dont agree. The king of Jordan doesn't support us, nor do the French or Germans. And still we seem to move inexorably towards war.
Wrong from every angle
It's a bad idea from just about every possible angle.
And what would the world say of our president? That he is sacrificing the lives of other men and women in order to satisfy a personal score? That last is already being bandied about in England. The Guardian, a major English daily, quoted one English general as suggesting that an attack on Iraq "could be a matter of settling scores for the Bush family, after an alleged Iraqi plot to assassinate the president's father during a 1993 visit to Kuwait." Keep in mind that England is our strongest - and in this case, perhaps our only - ally.
But in the final analysis guesses about motives mean little. Attacking Iraq is simply a bad idea driven by an absolutely monstrous shift in foreign policy. It sets us up to become the world dominators, not the world leaders. It is morally and legally bankrupt and a path that in the end can only lead to disaster and chaos on a global scale.
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Last updated August 1,, 2001