to Anti-War Protesters
February 13, 2003
By Geurino Calemine
After grinding my teeth one too many times in the wake of
another right-wing tirade in the press about peace activists
being anti-American or undermining the war against terrorism,
I write to make sure the anti-war protesters know that they
I work in Washington, DC - a city that has already suffered
two major terrorist attacks in the past year and a half. I
watched the Pentagon burn from my bedroom window, and I watched
firefighters with gas masks walk past me in my office building
during an anthrax scare. I attended multiple memorial services
for members of my union who died in the Pentagon and the World
And no one should want to go through that ever again.
Unfortunately, the Bush Administration is guaranteeing it
will happen again. And again. And again. By attacking Iraq,
a country with no connections to 9/11, Bush will enrage millions
and spawn countless new recruits for Al Qaeda.
We have to track down and stop terrorists, particularly those
responsible for 9/11. But the war in Iraq is not about terrorism.
Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda remain at large and threatening.
Saddam Hussein, a ruthless tyrant for sure, poses no imminent
threat to us or any other country.
There is not a single, credible connection linking Saddam
with bin Laden. Yet Bush spent 20 minutes of his State of
the Union talking about Saddam and embarrassingly did not
mention the name Osama bin Laden once. This was the same Osama
bin Laden whom Bush wanted "dead or alive" just
a year and a half ago.
Despite the deliberate effort to forget bin Laden, it is
becoming increasingly clear that, in a perverse symbiotic
relationship, Bush and bin Laden need each other. On the one
hand, since 9/11, with the unsurprising boost in approval
numbers that comes with war, Bush (who spent the month before
9/11 on a month-long paid vacation at his ranch after just
half a year on the job) has repeatedly exploited the tragedy
to pursue an extremist right-wing agenda that has amounted
to a class war on the economy, on the federal budget, and
especially on working people.
His domestic agenda has become a cavalcade of audacities,
ranging from tax cuts for the rich and tax cuts for the super-rich
to attacks on the free lunch program for schoolchildren and
attempts to gut Social Security and Medicare with privatization
schemes. The man who lost the popular vote apparently lost
it for good reason - for in two short years, we have gone
from record budget surpluses to record deficits, from peace
to war, from a healthy economy with rising wages to a chronically
recessed private-sector economy that has hemorrhaged 2.2 million
jobs in the last two years.
And Bush now pushes for an unprovoked war in the Middle East,
drawing the focus of our military and intelligence resources
away from Al Qaeda and, for that matter, away from North Korea
- a country that openly flaunts its pursuit of the very weapons
of mass destruction that the war in Iraq is supposed to be
about. Bush's arrogant and incompetent drive for war has alienated
many of our allies and eroded the international support we
need to monitor, investigate, and stop the terrorist cells
that now pepper the planet.
On the other hand, the only person that wants this war more
than Bush is none other than Osama bin Laden. He knows Bush's
attack will serve as a rallying cry for frustrated Arabs inclined
to blame America and the West for their problems, and he knows
his ranks will swell because of it. By augmenting support
for Al Qaeda, the war in Iraq will augment terrorists' abilities
to carry out attacks - and undermine the safety of American
citizens. In the meantime, Bush has done absolutely nothing
to address the underlying desperation and humiliation that
lead so many down the twisted path of terrorism.
For these and other reasons, I oppose the war in Iraq. And
I thank the patriotic people who brave the cold and make their
voices heard in the name of peace and national security. That
is about as American as you can get. And many of us who live
and work in prime terrorist targets appreciate it more than
words can describe.