March 28, 2006

George W. Bush -- wrong then, wrong now

Three years after he invaded Iraq, the 'great war leader' is still wrong.

This month the Bush administration and its supporters celebrate the third anniversary of their war on Iraq.

Their clumsy attempts to revise history prompted me to review my own words from pre-war 2003.

In the months leading up to the war, I posted several rebuttals in response to pro-Bush, pro-war rhetoric coming from members of a family website I had belonged to at the time.

This is one of my longer comments, not appreciated by everyone at the time:

Posted: Friday, February 21, 2003
Subject: Bush foreign policy

George Bush is managing foreign affairs like an elephant in a china shop. Even our strongest ally, the British, are convinced that he is a bigger threat to world peace than either Iraq or North Korea. I think the Bush Team should stop trying to manipulate the world to their own political ends. Bush should fire his war hawk advisers, most of whom managed to avoid battle themselves -- and fire his shoot-from-the-hip War Secretary Rumsfeld -- then replace them with people with some ability to lead the world in keeping Saddam in the cage we've created for him.

Few people in the world believe that Saddam could invade a 7-11 outside the borders of Iraq without being blown to smithereens. For Bush to pretend otherwise, and to spend the past 18 months trying to tie Saddam to 9/11, is part of the reason that so many in the world are afraid of the unbridled power of the United States and Bush's proclaimed new doctrine of "preemption." (The Democrats who rolled over and gave W. practically everything he wanted don't deserve a pass, either.)

I agree that Saddam Hussein would be a threat to his neighbors if he remained unchecked, just as he was in the 1980's when we were assisting him in his war against Iran. But I also believe that he can be contained, and that the real threat to our safety and welfare is El Qaeda and other well-organized terrorist groups that are being ignored in other countries. We must concentrate on our real enemy, terrorism, and we can only accomplish that with the world's support. Saddam is not Hitler, and his tanks are not rolling across Europe. He's not even Kim Jong Il, who has a nuclear program and missiles to deliver the goods (just one more example of what the bumbling name-calling and refusal to use diplomacy got for us).

One has to marvel that in the 18 months following 9/11, we went from a country with the good will of the entire world to the country whose leader is considered the greatest threat to world peace. We need friends in our fight against terrorism, not more distrust of our leaders and their motives.

The way I see it, Osama bin "dead-or-alive" Laden (oddly, never mentioned any more by our president), is a step ahead of us. Surely bin Laden must favor our impending invasion of Iraq. We will be taking out a secular Arab leader that he despises, creating more hatred for America within the Arab world, and destabilizing the Middle East further, including his home, Saudi Arabia -- his plan to perfection. What happens when war begins? Let's say Israel is provoked to join the fight; or maybe Pakistan or India, with their nuclear weapons, will follow our example of preemption in their own dispute; perhaps one or two Arab governments are weakened and religious fanatics gain power.

After we take Baghdad in about 10 minutes, how long will our soldiers remain there, open to attack from terrorists, while our "friends" are perfectly content to allow us to bear the burden? All Osama has to do is sit back for a while, check the landscape, and grow stronger -- with our assistance. He knows that if his plan of terrorism is to succeed, he has to weaken our economy further and keep Americans living in fear.

Of course we all hope for the promised "best case" scenario when we invade -- cheering in the streets and democracy all over the Middle East -- but shouldn't we allow the time to build consensus before opening Pandora's box on our own? War should be the last resort, and much can be done before we are forced into using that option. Because of the offensive boastfulness of Bush, Cheny, Rumsfeld, et al, we need to take the time to undo the damage to our image abroad before we can bring the world around.

As for me, I'll believe that Saddam poses a grave and imminent threat to the United States when I see the Bush children dressed in battle fatigues. If the threat from Iraq is as great as we are told, surely George and Jeb can convince their own children to assume their patriotic duty.

That being said, I am not a peacenik, an appeaser, or any of the other derogatory terms that have been resurrected from the Cold War to describe anyone who disagrees with war now. I support war when our country is at risk -- and I support our military people at all times -- and unlike George Bush, I actually completed my military obligation.

That is exactly why I support an all-out response to terrorism. War with Iraq, under the present conditions, makes us less safe in the years to come. Just my opinion.

No comments: