Don’t align with Bush’s war |

Don’t align with Bush’s war

(This letter was originally sent to U.S. Rep. Scott McInnis, as well as U.S. senators Wayne Allard and Ben Nighthorse Campbell.)

I hope you’re not going to vote in support of a unilateral U.S. military strike against Iraq.

Sure, Saddam Hussein is a bad guy and his regime should be changed ? but not by an action in which the United States is perceived to be acting alone.

No doubt we could kick Iraq’s butt all by ourselves, but if we won the battle that way we’d lose the war. A unilateral attack on Iraq would only fan the hatred many people feel (rightly or wrongly) toward the United States, and produce a whole new crop of terrorists.

Organizations like al Qaeda would gain recruits and grow stronger. Our national security would be decreased, not increased, and for a very long time.

Acting unilaterally could perhaps create stability in Iraq, yet at the same time bring chaos and upheaval to the rest of the Middle East. Nobody can foresee how the various countries of the region would line up in the conflict and how their regimes would hold up to internal pressures, but the risk of a diplomatic and military crisis beyond our control would be very high.

It’s nice to think that ousting Saddam could lead to the democratization of other Middle Eastern countries. But the deals we’d have to cut with strategically placed countries would, if anything, only strengthen those undemocratic regimes and delay reform.

In some cases popular outrage at an American attack would probably lead to bad existing governments being overthrown by even worse extremist ones. We could easily end up looking like we were siding with the despots rather than fostering democracy.

The Middle East is a sensitive part of the world where we should be doing everything we can to defuse tensions, not heighten them. Israel could be attacked, and since it has nuclear weapons and Iraq probably has chemical and biological ones, the conflict could escalate dangerously.

Oil supplies could be cut off, which is the opposite of what overthrowing Saddam is presumably meant to achieve. The scenario doesn’t even compute militarily: we already have troops in Afghanistan; attacking Iraq would open up a second front, leaving us unable to respond should we be attacked in a third location.

In light of all this, do you really want to give the President a blank check to spend billions of dollars on a war that would probably kill thousands of our young men, bust the budget and tank the economy? A multilateral approach (combined with a less oil-dependent energy policy) would greatly reduce all these risks.

Please authorize the President to go to war only if the United States is part of a coalition of forces acting under a specific U.N. mandate.

True, some of our allies and other members of the U.N. Security Council may have their own not-so-noble reasons for opposing military action. But if the danger posed by Saddam is as clear and present as we’re told, then it should be possible to persuade them to go along.

If such a coalition and mandate can’t be obtained, that will be a reality check that other countries and their leaders don’t see the Iraq problem quite the way the current administration does. Bowing humbly to that reality would do more to build good will in the world ? and take the wind out of the terrorists’ sails ? than any military action could.

President Bush’s unilateralist, preemptive doctrine will be discredited in the long view of history. You’d be wise not to align yourself with it.

Dave Reed


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