How War Could Be Avoided at the Last Minute: An Address from the Oval Office
March 11, 2003
By Bernard Weiner, The Crisis Papers

My fellow Americans. I am speaking to you tonight to thank you for the overwhelming support you have given our Administration in confronting Saddam Hussein. Because the American people, and the nations of the world, have stood together, Saddam has had to rein in his grandiose plans for regional domination and possible use of weapons of mass destruction.

He didn't want to let United Nations weapons inspectors back in his country under Resolution 1441, but, because of the pressure America exerted - with our armed forces camped on his doorstep - he felt obliged to invite the inspectors to return, and, in some fashion, to cooperate with them.

He didn't want to follow the U.N. inspectors' firm order to destroy his illegal missiles, but, because of the pressure of our troops surrounding his country - and our telling him what would happen if he didn't follow through on his promise to disarm - he had to start demolishing those weapons of mass destruction.

He didn't want to reveal aspects of his chemical warheads program, but, because of our aggressive policies, he was forced to do so.

In short, the Persian Gulf region can breathe a sigh of relief. Saddam Hussein is no longer an immediate threat to his neighbors or - as long as the weapons inspectors are roaming his country and as long as U.S. forces are out there ready to come back and finish the job - Iraq is not an immediate threat to the United States and the rest of the world.

Our military and diplomatic policies have triumphed.

Given this turn of events, as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces I am today ordering the bulk of our military to stand down and return to their bases. They performed a dangerous job with utmost skill, and the victory cheers today should go mainly to them.

We spent a lot of time, money and effort moving them into the Persian Gulf region, and there were those critics who said it unnecessary and too expensive. I hope that they now see the wisdom in our policy, and will not carry on in the same manner in possible future campaigns against other evildoers in other nations.

But, though the main body of our military will be leaving the Persian Gulf - we will keep a sizable emergency strike-force in the general area - make no mistake about it: We will be keeping a close eye on Saddam Hussein, and if and when he begins his aggressive policies again, rest assured that he will have to face the hellish wrath of the United States and of a world united.

Again, thank you for your support, and congratulations to all of you for this victory of morality and democracy over the forces of violence and evil. Goodnight, and God bless America!

"The Democratic Response," as delivered by Rep. Denise Coochinik of Ohio:

Have you ever heard such bullbleep in your life? But, you know what? If that kind of inside-out doublespeak is what it takes to save Bush's face and permit him to climb out of the corner into which he painted himself with his reckless and irresponsible policies, more power to him.

He can call it "victory," a "triumph," "a pepperoni pizza," whatever. He can pat himself and his Administration on the back, pretend the American people were with him all the way, and the United Nations too. I don't care.

The point is that a horrendous war has been averted, which would have devastated not only Iraqi society - resulting in tens of thousands of casualties to innocent civilians - but would have wreaked havoc on America as well: our shaky economy, our sense of ourselves as a moral people (who don't attack other nations absent imminent danger to us), our ability to hold our heads high in a world that mostly was hating and fearing us.

One can hope that Bush and his cronies will now begin to act less arrogantly, with less swagger and bullying behavior and language, and that they will rejoin the world community as a cooperative, helpful nation willing to listen to others.

So everyone who cares about America and the peace of the world should call and write the White House and congratulate Mr. Bush on his marvelous "victory." Give the man some face, folks.

But take a deep breath and remain on the political battlefield. Because these far-right guys, bent on imperial domination, will be re-grouping and coming at us, and at everyone else, right after a short break from their sponsors.


Bernard Weiner, a poet and playwright, was the San Francisco Chronicle's theater critic/editor for 16 years. He currently is co-editor of The Crisis Papers.