Dear Senator Kerry: There comes a time when the stakes are too high to let mere civility and trust decide. In the case of Iraq and war, we have come to one of those times. For months the Bush administration has been planning and preparing for war. They are so certain that they will be able to make war on Iraq that they have made many force deployments from which it will be hard to step back. They have even stepped up the low-level state of war that has existed with Iraq since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. They have already ignored and bypassed Congress. For months the Bush administration has been trying to make the case for war. For months they have been searching for any evidence that can be offered that shows that war is justified. In spite of the monumental immorality of doing so without justification, they continue to bluster for war—and take those concrete first steps that are in fact the opening of a state of war.
An Open Letter to My Senator on the Iraqi War
Robert J. Fleischer
Dear Senator Kerry: There comes a time when the stakes are too high to let mere civility and trust decide. In the case of Iraq and war, we have come to one of those times.
For months the Bush administration has been planning and preparing for war. They are so certain that they will be able to make war on Iraq that they have made many force deployments from which it will be hard to step back. They have even stepped up the low-level state of war that has existed with Iraq since the end of the Gulf War in 1991. They have already ignored and bypassed Congress.
For months the Bush administration has been trying to make the case for war. For months they have been searching for any evidence that can be offered that shows that war is justified. In spite of the monumental immorality of doing so without justification, they continue to bluster for war — and take those concrete first steps that are in fact the opening of a state of war.
Now the Bush administration suggests that they will offer the evidence to Congress. Ronald Reagan was fond of the Russian maxim: “Trust, but verify!” This, of course, means DON’T TRUST until you verify!
Trust really is at the heart of your decision. Even when you are shown something that the Bush administration claims is justification, will you be able to independently verify it, or will you have to take their word? Will they claim that you or your staff cannot be trusted with the actual evidence? If they don’t trust you, why should you trust them?
Has the Bush administration done anything to earn your trust? This is the most secretive administration we have seen in our lifetimes — almost nothing they claim in any arena can be verified. There are several aspects of this administration that are alarming, and tear down any prospect of trust.
This administration, and especially the defense and justice departments, is staffed at the highest levels with ideologues of the most extreme sort. Their allegiance is not to the Constitution or people of America. They are not merely conservative. Almost all their public actions have favored the powerful few who are their cronies. Should we just assume that in matters of defense they have the interests of the nation at heart when they clearly don’t care about most of us in their other actions? Regard for energy and oil interests dominate their domestic policy — aren’t we naive if we assume that energy and oil interests don’t dominate their international concerns?
Might this explain why the rest of the world nearly unanimously rejects Bush’s bluster about Iraq? Perhaps it isn’t that they are illogical or wimps — perhaps they just aren’t single-mindedly pursuing oil interests! (As a test of this hypothesis: is there ANY solution to the Iraq conflict that Cheney would accept that wouldn’t result in Iraqi oil coming into control of western interests? Is it terror attacks on the US that are his first priority, or is it decidedly something else?)
A well-functioning society depends upon trust, but that trust must be earned, not assumed. It is only in a dictatorship that one must appear to trust the ministers, whether or not they are trustworthy. In Iraq, I’m sure people have to “trust” Saddam without evidence; but we are no better if we have to trust Bush with no evidence.
Senator Kerry, you must be facing incredible pressure to act “civilly” and accept the administration at its word regarding Iraq. I know you wouldn’t accept their word in other areas, please don’t accept their word as evidence that will result in a death sentence of tens of thousands (if not many more!) Iraqi civilians. War is a verdict that demands evidence — lots of good evidence.
Regarding trustworthiness, I don’t see how any sane Democrat can forget what happened in Election 2000. Lance deHaven-Smith, writing in the September 2, 2002 Tallahassee Democrat, easily summarizes: 1) in Florida, Gore got more votes than Bush, 2) many likely Gore votes were not counted, in violation of state law, 3) the Supreme Court stopped a count that would have discovered this, and 4) Florida’s governor, secretary of state, and speaker of the House, all Republicans with close ties to George W. Bush, used their offices to manipulate the election controversy and secure Bush’s victory.
Bush came to power as a result of illegal manipulation of America’s most sacred rite, the election. This administration was born mired in deceit. Their unsubstantiated claims, especially in a matter as grave as war, should carry no weight.
Trustworthiness is also an issue with that major source of information, the CIA. The CIA is a lavishly funded rganization that — according to a congressional committee — commits a hundred thousand serious crimes a year, but does this above US law and in complete secrecy. Such an organization, by its very nature, is a threat to a free and democratic society. Again, don’t trust if you cannot verify! In particular, be alert to the possibility of manufactured evidence and even manufactured events.
To this point I have been writing about trust, and the untrustworthiness of the Bush administration. If you had trustworthy information that Saddam Hussein was investing in terror weapons, would that itself be sufficient to launch a war that could kill tens of thousands of Iraqis? No, not at all.
It is a long, tortuous road of logic to go from a current interest in weapons of mass destruction to a moral certainty that we will likely come under an indefensible attack by such weapons three to five years hence if we don’t attack soon. It is the kind of logic that would justify almost any attack by any party or nation on another party or nation whose ill will they fear. It’s the kind of logic that would morally justify 9/11, or perhaps even Pearl Harbor. IIt is the kind of logic that would certainly morally justify an attack by Iraq on Washington right now. It is the kind of logic that only intensifies and inflames humanity’s unfortunate inclination to resort to force. It is the kind of logic that undermines and even nullifies centuries of progress, and especially negates the hopes of those who conducted the Nuremberg trials and set up the United Nations a half century ago.
Those who assent to this war will leave a most terrible legacy.
It isn’t even very logical. One form of this argument is that, if Iraq can get the nuclear material from Russia, make a bomb with it, and then give the bomb to a terrorist organization, then we’d be under grave danger. It is clear to see that Iraq isn’t even an important part of this chain of logic — Russia already has bombs of all sizes — if Russia were inclined to support nuclear terrorism, what need would they have for Hussein as a middleman? The only possible role would be as a funding source, but there are many wealthy people in the world that personally could come up with adequate funding.
Senator Kerry, there will be millions of Americans who will support you if you stand up, forcefully, to this administration and speak the truth. Yes, the media will attack you, but they are not the people.
Robert J. Fleischer