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War with Iraq? Bet on it!
August 24, 2002
By William R. King

While there is certainly bipartisan support for war with Iraq, there has arisen in recent days substantial and significant bipartisan opposition as well. In a Wall Street Journal op-ed a few days ago, Brent Scowcroft warned of a potential "Armageddon in the Middle East." Brent Scowcroft is an elder statesman of Republican foreign policy. He is also a retired general who also advised Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and George W. Bush's own father.

Also joining the opposition are Republicans Dick Armey, the House majority leader, and Chuck Hagel, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Even hawks like Colin Powell and Henry Kissinger seem to be getting cold feet.

One might conclude that we are witnessing a groundswell of enlightened and influential opposition to war with Iraq. Don't count on it. Because of his make-believe macho bluster and egotistical ignorance, George W. Bush will wage this war for perhaps the very worst of reasons - to save face.

He has simply pounded out too much pap to pull back now. Should the opposition become overwhelming, look for the President to suddenly hear of that phantom Al Qaeda connection or some other manufactured reason for retaliation. Our media and government have mastered the art of manipulation and will surely rise to occasion

In recent years our presidents have been given a relative blank check for waging war. The only remaining check or balance to this practice seems to be us, the American people. If politicians fear anything, it is the ruckus or rabble rousing of ordinary Americans. Why are we so silent on these issues of life and death?

Fear of "standing up" is certainly a major reason, but I believe that it is primarily because only a small percentage of our children are likely to do the fighting. We seem to have lost sight of the fact that, in war, real human beings have to point the guns and dodge the bullets. We lack experience with the realities of combat and, as a result, lose ourselves in an apathetic fantasyland.

As much as I am opposed in principle to a military draft, I must admit that its reinstatement might be one of the healthiest moves we as a nation could make. If we required every able-bodied young man (and, yes, every woman too) to serve in the military with no means of deferment or exemption (other than truly legitimate medical ones), then we as a people might pay more attention to our president's foreign policy.

Consider our own children - the ones we rouse from sleep each morning, the ones we have nurtured and protected from infancy, the ones we love and cherish above all else. When they become the potential pawns in George W. Bush's unending war on "evil," maybe then we would have second thoughts, overcome our hypocrisy, and search harder for alternatives to war.

In the meantime, the poor and less privileged will continue to constitute the bulk of our military forces and will continue to fight our wars. Also in the meantime, the rest of us will wave our flags and cheer them on (except, of course, on weekends when our cheers are reserved for the hometown team and our time and money are spent on patriotic shopping sprees).

George W. Bush will continue to talk tough about "getting Saddam dead or alive," knowing that if he fails as he has with Osama and doesn't succeed in killing us all in a nuclear "blowback," there will always be another rogue to "root out," another stooge to take Saddam's place. And like most of us, he will not strap on his "six-shooter" and lead the charge. George W. Bush will mangle some words about courage and perseverance and turn his gaze again to the next election.

Bill King is a high school teacher in Kingston Springs, TN.

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