Friday, July 6, 2007

Not with Us - Bush 03-04-04

Not being with us, is not against us

Mirza A. Beg
Written March, 29th 2003

Birmingham Post-Herald Friday April 4th 2003

The American invasion of Iraq is about two weeks old. All Americans, whether they support the war, oppose the war or are ambivalent, are praying that it would be a very short war, with minimal American and Iraqi casualties, particularly Iraqi civilians. Half of Iraqis are under 15 years old.

The administration was bent on going to war and making short work of Saddam Hussain. Against the better judgement of the soldiers, the administration painted verbal pictures of a cakewalk. Now they are distancing themselves from those rosy scenarios.

Americans are uneasy about the prolongation of the war, suspicious of the UN, miffed at France for not supporting us and incredulous at the strong demonstrations around the world. About 60 to 80 percent of the people in countries around the world including England and Spain are opposed to this war.

We have fallen in the trap of the Bush doctrine, "If you are not with us you are against us". After 9/11 practically the whole world was with us. They sympathized and empathized with us. French President said, "Today we are all Americans". How was this goodwill squandered in 18 months? We are at a loss to understand. We are the good guys. Opposition to the war is mistakenly taken as the support for Saddam Hussain.

We elect our officials on pocket books issues. The motto of Clinton camp in 1992 elections was, "It is the economy stupid". We have been a superpower for more than half a century and for the last decade we are the only super power verging on being a hyper-power. What ever we do affects the world. Therefore our new understanding ought to be, "it is the foreign policy stupid". If we the citizens of a free and democratic country refuse to educate ourselves about the foreign policies of our government, it would come back to haunt us.

The world did not need convincing, it knew that Saddam Hussain is a murderous, evil dictator. He was that in 1980's as well, when we were supporting him against Iran. He was despicable when he gassed Kurds in Halabja. American press condemned him but the silence from our government was deafening. Twenty years is not old history. It has come back to haunt us.

The world also knows that Saddam Hussain "evil and all" is a defeated circumscribed dictator of a third rate power, possibly a regional power. He lies, connives and cheats. America with UN backing had corralled him. He did not even control the whole of Iraq.

The world respects the US for its democratic principles, advocacy of human rights and generally a judicious use of its enormous power. We have been impetuous in the use of its power in the past, but seemed to have learnt to temper it with grace that comes with maturity. Other small powers may lie and connive for momentary gains, the world can and does often ignore it, but the only super power is held and should be held to a higher standard.

The administration tried hard to link Saddam Hussain with Bin Laden and the attacks on 9/11, but failed. Even the CIA shied away from such allegation. Administration claimed to have proof of Iraq manufacturing weapons of mass destruction but refuse to give it to the weapons inspectors. After a while we could not sustain this stand based on weak arguments, so we provided what we said were the evidence.

The documents showing purchase of Uranium from Niger by Iraq were proven to be forgery. The State department lamely blamed unknown others for the forgery. The facilities in Iraq, we identified as being used for the production of such weapons were proven to be false. One of the buildings was in the Northern "no fly zone" that we could have bombed during our routine bombing runs but inexplicably did not.

The people Mr. Bush has surrounded himself seem to believe and have alluded to in different forums, that our role as the super power should be to engender fear to be respected. It is contrary to the principles that this nation was founded on and contrary to the principles that were written in the UN charter by us. Ours is the most open and free society ever established. Americans are the most outgoing and open people, but in the labyrinths of the corridors of power this great concept gets twisted, disfigured and convoluted.

The world knows that Saddam Hussain is evil and condemns him and the US victory over Saddam Hussain is only a matter of time, but is jarred by the way Bush has bamboozled the UN.

The world is concerned that from this victory the administration would learn the wrong lesson and would become more cavalier in its attitude towards other small nations. Remember the contrived axis of evil of countries that had nothing in common except that we did not like their system and some body convinced Bush that it sounds good. The administration does not mention it any more. But the world would not soon forget.

We hope that those who are opposed to war fearing thousands of casualties are proven wrong and this war ends swiftly with minimal destruction of life and dignity. We also pray that Saddam Hussain does not have the weapons of mass destruction to use on our troops and those Iraqi civilians that are caught in the middle. Above all let us hope that this administration does not learn the wrong lesson from this pyrrhic victory and learns the grace and restraint that a great power should have. To paraphrase Theodore Roosevelt, we have the biggest stick ever; we need to learn to speak softly, truthfully and with justice.

Mirza A. Beg may be contacted at

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