On declaring war

Tom Friedman, lamenting the loss of opposition in politics, observes that "most Americans are worrying about their jobs, the stock market, the environment and the fact that their kids may not grow up in as open and peaceful a world as they did." So what the hell is going on in Washington D.C.? Why are we on the brink of the previously unthinkable adventure of a "pre-emptive" war against a nation which arguably poses no meaningful threat to our well-being? Please tell me this is not a cynical diversionary tactic by Republicans to gain further political control in the 2002 elections. Please tell me the administration is not simply trying to change the subject from corporate scandals, economic malaise, the upcoming decade of deficit spending, and their venal favoritism for cronies over the environment.

Most amazing to me is that the people who fund the Republican party are not up in (figurative) arms because of the economic debacle that Bush is presiding over. Certainly it's not all his fault, nor is it entirely in his control, but just as certainly, his actions are not helping.

One Republican, at least, is not going along for the ride. Ron Paul (R-Texas) was on Bill Moyer's NOW last night, and what he had to say was so clear, so obviously truthful, and so completely at odds with the Congressional mob scene prepared to sign their rights and responsibilities over to Bush, that I had to wonder how it could be that there were not more voices raised with the same message. The questions he raised a month ago remain unanswered.

(Some of them: Do you personally feel strongly enough about Iraq to leave your home, family, and job to join the war? Everyone wants a regime change in Iraq, but who exactly will replace Hussein? How long will we be in Iraq after Saddam Hussein is ousted? Does an invasion of Iraq play into bin Ladenís hands by turning the entire Islamic world against us? With American forces stretched thin in the Middle East and the administration preoccupied, will China take the opportunity to invade Taiwan? Do the American people, and not just a handful of advisors to the President, really want this war?)

NOW had the video clip of Bush's famous "the Democrats in the Senate don't care about national security" rhetoric; I'd seen the words before, but I hadn't seen them delivered. He had that god damned smirk when he said it. This from the guy getting advice on war as if it were the product rollout for a new fall series on a TV network. Daschle may have been grandstanding when he responded, but his remarks were exactly right. Bush's comment was outrageous. Unfortunately, there is a lot more going on that's outrageous which is not being responded to with equal vehemence.

Ron Paul has introduced a formal declaration of war on Iraq to the Congress. This is a chance for our 535 members of Congress to carry out their Constitutional duty, if military action is indeed warranted. Giving the Executive branch an authorization of force for an open-ended military expedition is an act of cowardice if there ever was one. It is on the order of Pontius Pilate giving into the crowd calling for Jesus' crucifixion, washing his hands of the deed and imagining he could absolve himself from guilt. Let someone else make this decision, they seem ready to say: we do not want it on our hands. It will be the Bush Administration's initiative, and if it fails, we can say it's not our fault. If it succeeds, why, we were all in favor of it! We authorized the action!

Friedman's column ticks off the opportunities for political opponents to this madness: repeal the future tax cuts that threaten to erode the resources of government; mobilize our technologists to reduce our dependence on Middle East oil; build a consensus about the right actions to take regarding Iraq, rather then a brute application of military force to kill a leader we don't like and a few hundred thousand of the people in that country.

Space was limited, else he might have also mentioned the pre-emptive actions the Bush administration already has under way, against civil rights, and the environment.


Tom von Alten      tva_∂t_fortboise_⋅_org


Tuesday, 18-Mar-2003 21:23:11 MST