Don't reward Bush for Iraq mess by re-electing him

October 31, 2004

Dear Editor:

Your endorsement of George W. Bush praises his response to 9/11 for implementing "a new policy on terrorism that correctly linked the activities of terrorists to the rogue states, such as Afghanistan and Iraq, that sponsor them or grant them sanctuary." You call the strategy of removing Saddam Hussein "the correct one for protecting the United States."

After the 9/11 commission report, any implication that the war in Iraq is a justified response to 9/11 is either an unacceptable mistake or an intentional misrepresentation.

The president initially justified the war as a campaign to rid Iraq of weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, nuclear). Yes, Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons in the 1980s (when he was a U.S. ally). But, as the arms inspectors' reports make clear, Iraq's WMD capacity was successfully destroyed in the 1990s. This administration willfully ignored or selectively interpreted contradictory intelligence according to predetermined conclusions. In 2003, Iraq simply posed no WMD threat to the U.S.


What your editorial approvingly calls the "Bush Doctrine" of pre-emptive war contravenes internationally approved notions of sovereignty and the use of force as a measure of legitimate self-defense. One only needs to imagine a world in which all nations claim this pre-emptive principle for themselves to determine its danger as a universally applicable precedent.

The "Bush Doctrine" also flies in the face of tested ethical norms for a "just war." The invasion of Iraq does not meet recognized standards of just cause, just intent, last resort, or just conduct (12,000 innocent civilians dead; Abu Ghraib torture chambers). For these reasons, almost every mainstream religious body in the U.S. officially opposed this war.

It would be a travesty to reward President Bush for this mess by re-electing him. Iraq is the central foreign policy decision for which the public must hold this president accountable at the polls. When you're heading for a precipice, it is hardly rational to "stay the course."

Rick Axtell


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