The Bush administration has been impressive in its ability to steer the world toward war in the Middle East. Wasn't it as recent as six months ago that the only people thinking about Iraq were people who were shouting-in the direction of deaf ears-about how U.N. sanctions against Iraq were continuing to kill thousands upon thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens?
Just like that, on the world stage, U.S. officials managed to make war against Iraq the No. 1 priority. And here at home, the Iraq issue has trumped the disastrous economy, corporate crime and a host of other vexing domestic issues, such as tax, social security and health care reform.
Despite protests from numerous countries around the world, and in the face of mounting opposition from the American public, we're marching toward war without any clear reason or objective. Bush says our goal is to rid Saddam Hussein of weapons of mass destruction. Hussein says he doesn't have any such weapons. So far, he has complied with the recent sweeping U.N. resolution to allow unfettered inspections of potential weapons-manufacture sites in Iraq, and last weekend he submitted an 11,807-page weapons declaration, as required, on deadline.
Bush says the inspections and the declaration are a part of Hussein's Big Lie, that the United States possesses proof that Iraq is out of compliance with U.N. resolutions regarding chemical, biological and nuclear weapons. Great-let's see it.
No, Bush says, he can't show it to us. That would be dangerous.
Fine, but until he's willing to show that Hussein's lying, Bush's constituents should tell him that war is out of the question.
U.S. political hypocrisy is incredible. And to a large degree, the American public buys its sanctimonious rhetoric about the threat of weapons of mass destruction. Back in 1992, the U.S. Senate committee investigated the American role in arming Iraq. The committee found that between 1985 and 1989, the U.S. provided Iraq with chemical and biological weapons materials and technology. Some of the transfers occurred even after Hussein gassed the people of Halabja in northeastern Iraq. We didn't get terribly concerned about what Iraq was doing until it posed a threat to the stability of the world's oil supply.
We as American citizens must remain skeptical of this administration's foreign policy and its underlying motives. Why is it just Iraq that we're so obsessed with when there are other countries that possess dangerous arsenals (Britain, China, France, Pakistan, India, Russia) and many other tyrannical leaders who commit horrible human-rights abuses (too many to mention, just check Amnesty International's website)?
Those who don't want to believe U.S. foreign policy lacks integrity can find other reasons to protest the impending war. How about the cost? The price tag could reach into the billions of dollars. Given the sorry state of our economy, and given the number of people who don't have access to health care, and given the grim future of the social security system, and given all the other problems in this country that some extra money might help fix, can we really afford a costly war surrounded by so much uncertainty?
We say no.
We've said it before, and we'll say it again-if the world community wants to deal with Saddam Hussein as a criminal of war, it should follow world-court protocol, just like it did, albeit way too late, in the case of Yugoslav creep Slobodan Milosevic.
CityBeat encourages its readers who are even just a little bit unsure of George W. Bush's war effort to actively express their skepticism. There will be opportunities in the coming weeks and months to do so. Make a sign, show up at a protest, write a letter. Tell your president he needs to kick down with the evidence and level with us about his motives-or get back to work solving problems right here at home.