President Bush is quoted today saying that the worldwide anti-war protests of the past weekend will not dissuade him on his plans for Iraq. He dismissed the millions of people who attended rallies around the globe by comparing them to a "focus group." Of course, the president is not going to let a "focus group" dictate how he will set U.S. foreign policy, and it is even commendable for a president to go against the tide of opinion to do what is right. But is waging war on Iraq really the right thing to do?
The last time we waged war in Iraq, it was relatively bloodless for our side. I'm one of the few people who actually knew someone who died during that conflict. The reason the battle was so bloodless is become for the most part we sat back and lobbed bombs and missiles at the enemy. When it was time to move in with the ground troops and engage in the house-to-house, type of urban warfare that would have been necessary to totally dislodge Saddam from power (something that would have sent the U.S. bodycount climbing dramatically), that is when Bush Sr. decided to declare victory and go home.
Now Bush Jr. is ready to pick up where his Dad left off and go forward with Part II. Saddam is weaker today than he was back in 1990, but that hasn't deterred the administration and the conservative media propagandists from hyping him into a monstrous beast of Hitlerian proportions. This is the part that most disturbs me. If the administration so desired, they could hype Mohamar Quadaffi in Libya as a threat to rival Saddam. But that does not suit their current purposes, so we hear nothing about him. Past administrations have hyped Fidel Castro as a threat to our well being, all to no avail.
I think the pattern that Bush Jr. is looking at for this conflict is not so much the first Persian Gulf War, as his Dad's incursion into Panama to capture Manuel Noriega. That would be quite a trophy to bring back. A quick raid by U.S. Special Forces surrounding Saddam's palace and blasting him with rock-n-roll music until he surrenders and we haul him back and put him in a jail cell somewhere in Florida. If only it was that simple.
Here is a quote from another president named George (Washington, that is.) Written in 1796, Washington warned future presidents against the dangers of ill-considered foreign entanglements.
"The nation which indulges toward another by habitual hatred, or habitual fondness, is in some degree a slave. It is a slave to its animosity or to its affection, either of which is sufficient to lead it astray from its duty and its interest. The nation, prompted by ill will and resentment, sometimes impels to war the government, contrary to the best calculations of policy."