THE Bush administration's case for war reveals both an utterly cynical disregard for truth and a deep underestimation of the intelligence of the American public. In an example of double-talk worthy of Orwell's masterpiece, Bush announced last night that this is not the beginning of war, but he beginning of peace.
Instead of the reasoned arguments that should be stated before hundreds of thousands of young Americans are sent to risk their lives--not to mention the lives of hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis oppressed by Saddam Hussein--we have heard from Washington only cynical arguments designed to blind and mislead.
The fight is for freedom and democracy, we are told. But fewer than 15 percent of Kuwaitis were allowed to vote; most of the people living in Kuwait were temporary immigrants working in Kuwait for low wages. What few civil liberties ever existed for citizens were revoked in 1985. And in Saudi Arabia, a land of gender apartheid, half of the population--the women--cannot even go out of doors without a male relative, much less exercise any political rights.
Ah, but the fight is for jobs. This argument only lasted a day or two. The war buildup has been further devastating an already weak U.S. economy, plunging us into a recession.
No, the fight is for "our way of life." Read, our right to have cheap gas and no energy policy at all.
All right, it's about preventing a maniac from getting nuclear weapons. This lasted for about a week, until it was pointed out by scientists and military experts that Saddam Hussein had no likelihood of possessing nuclear capabilities in the next few years and that anyway, lots of maniacs have nuclear weapons, and it's hardly feasible to fight them all.
Ah, yes. The fight is about upholding international law. Iraq should not have invaded Kuwait. No question. But this rings a bit false coming from the country that just last year was condemned by the United Nations for another "flagrant violation of international law": the invasion of Panama. the number of civilian deaths resulting from the invasion of Panama were of the same order of magnitude as the number of civilian deaths caused by Iraq's invasion of Kuwait.
But even leaving the hypocrisy of this argument aside, you can't stop aggression with aggression. Bush, in his speech, expressed the hope that we could bring back Iraq into the peaceful international family. Let's extend that analogy. If you're trying to teach your children not to fight, it's not going to do much good if you beat them whenever they fight someone else.
A war that has the potential to kill hundreds of thousands of people, many of them entirely innocent, and to politically destabilize the Middle East for years to come, should not be undertaken unless the peace and security of the entire world is threatened. In order to justify this war, several things must be proven:
1) Bush must prove that Saddam Hussein was militarily capable of taking over Saudi Arabia and the rest of the Arabian peninsula.
2) He must prove that Hussein intended to do so, and
3) He must show that if he did so, the results would be catastrophic for the world. And by catastrophic, more is meant than that someone who is not us or one of our friends would control a lot of oil.
And even if all of those things could be proven--which they have not been and, I believe, cannot be--it would still be necessary to prove that Saddam Hussein could not be stopped by economic sanctions and diplomacy. Note that the U.N. authorized force, but neither required it nor recommended it. The refusal of the administration to negotiate or even to consider offering any face-saving compromise, and its patent eagerness to rush into war after only a few months of sanctions tell us all we need to know here; sanctions and diplomacy were never given a chance.
WHY are we fighting in the Gulf? I'm not sure, but the crisis came along conveniently in the middle of the Savings and Loan scandal--in which the president's son was emerging as a major figure--at a time when the economy was entering a post-'80s hangover, and at a time when there were calls for deep cuts in the defense budget. What I am sure of is that the war cannot be justified. No way, no how.
And the American people know this. The nation is not populated by idiots, and the nation is going to be torn apart by this war. Even congress voted narrowly to authorize it. It look years for protests against the Vietnam War to gain strength, but now already millions of Americans have protested in cities and on campuses across the country.
We will be asked, now that the fighting has started, to cease our questioning and our protests and to rally around the president for the sake of the troops. Resist. Now more than ever it is time to protest--for the sake of the troops and the people of Iraq--for with every passing moment, more blood is being shed.