Two months before national elections and I'm leery of our President's willingness to risk the lives of young Americans and destabilize the Middle East by waging war on Iraq.
Saddam Hussein is a nasty SOB. But if he's such a threat, how come Congress, the United Nations, the Arab world, which he could hurt badly, or our allies from Berlin to Beijing aren't persuaded?
Saudi Arabia thinks the war proposal “unwise.” Turkey says it would move the world closer to “the law of the jungle.” Virginia Republican Sen. John Warner, a Senate Armed Services Committee honcho, wants to know its “national security implications.”
The President's mad-dog hawkishness has upset and confounded many in the GOP and left Democrats frothing. Generals, who know war, are naysaying while civilian leaders snarl.
All rank-and-file Americans hear is scarifying speculation about poison gas, nuclear weapons, and biological agents, but no specifics.
At the same time, former UNSCOM weapons inspector Scott Ritter, a Marine and a conservative Republican, in repeated public appearances and in an Aug. 28 appearance on National Public Radio's “Talk of the Nation,” said his inspectors had seen to destruction of Iraq's noxious chemical, biological, and nuclear potential and that Iraq couldn't assemble more without buys the intelligence community would hear about.
Just the day before, he said, Israel's chief of staff said he wasn't losing sleep over Iraq.
Then we hear from the White House that Mr. Bush's as-yet-no-good-reason intervention could be done whether Congress liked it or not. Then we hear Mr. Bush would tell us his reasons for war, leapfrogging Congress, center stage and no questions.
Then we learn that sure, the Congress would be let in. And they needn't vote: Mr. Bush would go on a wink or a nod from that representative assemblage.
From my hair-stylist to my financial planner, everyone has the willies.
People are getting all this nonsense from the controlled information set that wants to keep everything secret, from immigration trials to presidential pardons. We don't buy pigs in pokes.
The presidential advisers are experienced, who know better. Yet they dish out alarm in the glittering generalities of the snake oil salesman. And Scott Ritter told the world that chief alarmist Dick Cheney is ignorant or a liar.
Evidence. Not an iota. Hints, yes. But American blood should buy something better. So far that's what the polls are saying, too. Saddam has been a thorn in the flesh of the Middle East, and ousting him is fine by most of us. But we don't want our loved ones dying over him, yet.
And there's this election coming up, and bitter fights to keep a GOP majority in the House, and to erase the one-vote Democratic margin in the Senate. And there's this bear market and Mr. Bush's corporate pals.
So what is this really about? My cynical guess is oil, and by-the-by, Israel. But oil, for sure, and our ability to control it. The elections and the economy play a role in this brinksmanship. And so does the fact that Osama bin Laden is still on the loose and that seniors still have no prescription benefits.
War for a good reason - say proof that Iraq has made itself a rogue state by violating United Nations dicta that it stay out of the weapons of mass destruction business - would fly. But if Mr. Bush's stance is a game in which he is so extreme that any small concession will seem huge, he goes too far and risks too much.
I tend to agree with former Congressman Jack Kemp:
“There are a lot of thugs in the world, and very frankly I don't believe that the United States can make it just a pre-emptive policy to go around the world and change regimes. I think that's rather cavalier.”
It also leaves us wondering who's next.