I wrote this and it was published in my law school newspaper early March 2003, shortly before we invaded. I told a conservative friend at the time "I really hope you can call me and make fun of me a year or two from now and tell me how wrong I was." I really, really wanted to be wrong. I wasn't.
EDITORIAL: WHAT WOULD GEORGE W(ASHINGTON) DO?
March 8, 2003
by [TWD], 2L
Many Americans think that those who don’t support the President on Iraq don’t support the military. That some peace protestors are anti-military or socialists or communists or even anti-American lends support to this belief. Some equate any questioning of the President’s foreign policy as appeasement, and seem to feel that those who doubt the wisdom of an invasion would rather support Saddam Hussein. But perhaps they would be more comfortable in Iraq – citizens there don’t question their president. They blindly cheer Saddam without asking questions.
They aren’t allowed to.
I think support for our soldiers is not the same thing as support for the President. And vice versa.
I believe it is not only my right, but my responsibility, to try and ensure our nation’s security, to try and ensure our nation does the right thing. I don’t think an invasion of Iraq is the right thing – not because I support an evil tyrant like Saddam Hussein, but because no credible evidence has been presented that Iraq is a threat to our nation. None at all.
I support a war on terrorists, and I think North Korea is a real danger to us, but not Iraq. And not without justification. And not without the support of our allies. And not when the Iraqi link to Al Queda has been shown to be a lie. I get very nervous when a President lies to the American people in order to build support for such a vital decision.
To some that means I don’t think we should defend ourselves. But I do believe the United States has a right to defend itself. That is why I proudly served as a rifleman in the 101st Airborne, and other infantry units around the world. I think we should kill the terrorists where we find them, and destroy any government that threatens our way of life. All I would ask for is some reassurance that my actions would help our Republic and not endanger it. Some, including apparently the President, would rather I not ask any questions. Just as in Iraq no one questions Saddam.
I have been on casualty notification teams. I would ask Mr. Bush if he knows what it is like to tell a farmer and his wife that their son, their pride and joy, the son that they nursed, loved, taught to ride a bicycle, that their son is not coming home anymore. And then, as their shattered faces collapse and the light goes out of their eyes, to then have to answer the question from them “Was it worth it? Did our boy die for a good reason?” Should I answer “I don’t know. I never asked?” And does Mr. Bush know what it is like to take a human life, and how desperately soldiers need to believe that doing so was the right thing to do? And still, if it is the right thing to do, I think we should go.
My problem is that “if.” Because if it is not the right thing to do, then we should not do it, even at this late date, even with 300,000 troops already deployed, and even if it would embarrass us. I think if we invade for the wrong reasons then the rest of the world, fairly acquiescent about our power, would see us as the threat. Would we be better off then?
If the risks of not going to war are higher than going to war, then we should fight. If not, then the best thing to do is to avoid a fight. But information is required for that decision, and it is not a decision for the President alone. It is a decision we should make as a nation.
The President falsely tried to link Iraq to Al Queda and could not. Yet he still talks constantly about 9/11 when asked to justify an invasion of a country that had nothing to do with it. He next claimed that an invasion was justified because Saddam is a tyrant, but we cooperate with Saudi Arabia – the nation that gave the most support to the hijackers – and so many other tyrants that I don’t have time or space to list them. Finally, he claims that Saddam has weapons of mass destruction. Yes he does, we have known that for over 20 years. So does Pakistan, so does North Korea, so do many countries. What makes Saddam different? Well, the President claims that Saddam “might” use them against us. If we invade he certainly will. How does this make the world a safer place?
Don’t get the wrong idea - I don’t think we need sit around and be hit before responding. We should attack first rather than wait and be attacked. But what evidence does the President have to support his view that Iraq will (or even can) attack the United States, or that Iraq will shortly have atomic weapons?
It appears that he has none, or that he doesn’t feel he needs to share it with his fellow citizens, or even more frightening, doesn’t think he even needs it.
But didn’t he take an oath to serve us, not the other way around? Aren’t we the boss? Ultimately, isn’t this a government of the people, by the people, and for the people? Should we take Mr. Bush’s word for it, and require nothing more, in order to send the sons and daughters of our nation off to war? Is that patriotic?
As a soldier, I took an oath to the Constitution, not to the President. I guess some feel there is something wrong with that too. But I would like them to try and tell that to the soldiers of the United States Army, who understand very well that they are the guardians of the Republic and our Constitution, and not the servants of George W. Bush.
So as a patriot, I will continue to question and fulfill my duties as a citizen. If some would rather blindly follow where a leader tells them to go, that is their right. I won’t though.
And neither did George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, or any of our founding fathers, who rebelled against another George who felt that the people should serve him, instead of him serving the people. I wonder if many supporters of this war would have taken up arms against King George III, or would they instead have insulted Washington and his ragtag troops, calling them traitors to the crown?
I guess my view on the war makes me unpatriotic. But I will stand with the soldiers who took the oath to the Constitution. And if we go forward into Iraq I will support our military, whether the decision to send them was right or wrong. They don’t have the luxury of making that choice for themselves, and shouldn’t be blamed if it is a mistake. They depend on their fellow citizens to get it right. They depend on us, the people, to risk their lives only when it is the right thing to do.
What an amazing amount of trust it takes to put your life in the hands of your fellow citizens, to forego many of the freedoms of civilian life so that others can enjoy that freedom. How wonderful that we have young men and women willing to do that for our nation. We owe them so much. We owe them our freedom. And if we send in them in mistakenly, we shouldn’t blame them. We owe them an apology. We will have failed them, not the other way around.
So I will try my best to get it right. I will march in protests and demand that the President justify a war with real evidence, instead of lies and “what might happen.” I will demand the President show that a war will make things better for our nation, that it is right and just.
If he can do so, then I support an invasion. If he can’t, or refuses to do so, then I am against it. I think I owe our brave soldiers that much. I am sorry that some don’t think they owe them as much as I do. But they can think whatever they want because of the Founders of our Republic. The ones who created our Republic because they thought it was right to question authority.
God Bless America.