I feel—as many people all over the world may feel—deeply troubled by the manner in which President Bush has engaged Iraq in conflict. President Bush and his administration have not provided adequate evidence for military engagement with Iraq and they have failed to demonstrate how a military engagement will effectively address terrorist activity directed at America.
President Bush has failed to provide sufficient evidence to the American people and to the world that Saddam Hussein has weapons of mass destruction at this disposal. I don’t doubt that Saddam Hussein has at least chemical if not also biological weapons at his disposal. I’m almost certainly convinced that Saddam Hussein also has a nuclear weapons program and has plans for creating nuclear weapons as fast as he can. Yet the American people have no clear evidence that he does possess such weapons. Still, President Bush insists that the American people give him his support without the information that many believe necessary to make a decision to go to war.
An open society holds at its core the disclosure and sharing of information so that the people participating in their own governance can make informed decisions about the actions of their society. The creators of the constitution understood this tenet and expressed this tenet in assuring the freedom of the press. In refusing to share the information that his administration has about Saddam Hussein’s capacity for weapons of mass destruction, President Bush violates one of the basic tenets of American government—the sharing of information for the due process of political deliberation.
President Bush has also failed to demonstrate how the war with Iraq coherently fits into the larger picture of ending terrorism. Saddam Hussein may be actively providing financial and military support to terrorists or he may not. The American people do not have significant evidence that either case is true. Americans can only make assumptions based on a profile of Saddam Hussein’s character.
Terrorists seek to use unconventional means of force against more powerful targets in the places where the target is most vulnerable. The jet planes that struck the twin towers in New York and the pentagon in Washington, DC required little more funding than the cost of plane tickets and required no more arms than some knives and bolt cutters. I recognize that the terrorists did receive funding to live and to learn how to fly planes, but I want to point out that terrorists do not need weapons of mass destruction or any other kind of conventional weapons to bring America to a screeching halt. Terrorists most likely don’t need Saddam Hussein to continue their current campaign against America.
I never want a terrorist to have access to weapons of mass destruction, but I do want the large scale and potentially volatile actions of the American nation to reflect a strategy that clearly seeks to get to the root causes of the problems that precipitate terrorism. The terrorists in Russia come from Chechnya because they want political independence from Russia. The terrorists in England come from Ireland because they have political grievances with England. While I am oversimplifying the relationship between terrorist activity and the root causes, we can see a correlation between terrorist activity and political grievances. I believe that there is a strong correlation between Islamic terrorist activity against America and America’s political and military actions in the middle east. I won’t repeat evidence here that is widely available on the internet and through other media regarding America’s relationship with Saddam Hussein in the 1980’s, the training of Islamic fundamentalists during the Russian occupation of Afghanistan and other related political activities. I will state that there is a relationship between American political and military action in the middle east and the terrorist activity against America.
I personally think that Osama bin Laden is a madman on a vengeful crusade against America that will do little to resolve the real and complicated political conflicts in the middle east; however, the current actions and political stance of the Bush administration will almost certainly convince many in the middle east that Osama bin Laden has correctly assessed the nature and character of the American people: America is rife with people that seek to dominate the middle east with force, with fear, and without reason.
Such thinking, if Osama bin Laden views America in this manner, is wrong. It does not genuinely reflect the hopes and dreams of the American people. I am intensely aware of how hypocritical and foolish this statement may sound to some, but America—at it’s best—is an open and free society that sees naked aggression as an immoral and ineffective use of power. I believe that the ongoing stance of the current Bush administration has pushed aside the basic processes necessarily involved in being an open and free society and has used the great power of the American republic in a manner that more closely resembles naked aggression than the defense of freedom.
In the months to come, the world will probably discover that Saddam Hussein did in fact possess weapons of mass destruction and did in fact have an active nuclear weapons program. President Bush will most likely say with triumph, “I told you so.” I only hope that in the years to come, the world will not discover that the actions of the Bush administration gave ample reason to young people in the middle east to join the cause of terrorists. May God have mercy on our souls.