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May 2004

Dear Mr. President

You and your Neocon pals won two wars in a heartbeat. Hats off to you and our military. You made good use of tools developed by others, including the "feckless Clinton," to borrow a Neocon phrase. I truly hope you have reduced the global effectiveness of al Qa'ida. That may in fact be so. But at what cost? From the summer of '02, we have wondered about what you know of the "Muslim Nation." It really is worldwide. Any battle anywhere involving the infidel becomes a jihad for all radical Muslims. An occupied Iraq is such a call to arms.

What we are up against is a mindset with numerous adherents in the palaces of Islamic power. At the same time there are Muslims in our midst who see the world more like we do and who are ready for a worldwide reformation. They are in the Diaspora, and they need our help--even though they are few. They do not need the suspicion that the FISA and Patriot Acts hangs over the heads of all of us. These acts were panic responses. The Patriot Act repeals some of the safeguards found necessary after the McCarthy era--before your time. But that is no excuse for moving American governance still further toward totalitarian controls, like "them," in other words.

You keep saying Iraq is not a religious war. Yet you push extreme evangelical values and support an army general preaching holy war as an act of a Christian God better than "Allah." Yet your troops are now working zealously to enlist church congregations friendly to you in a grass-roots campaign to re-create an America in the Neocon image, including pre-emptive war, a la Hitler. Even a casual interpretation belies the lead sentence to this paragraph. See Religion and Violence. See also Authoritarian Personality for why many in those congregations will indeed go along with you.

Every time we read of new terrorism in Iraq, we think of Israel. For over half a century, Israel has been fighting the Palestinians they dispossessed by war. The Zionists did not heed what one of their own had to say. Among other things, Vladimir Jabotinsky predicted the Iron Wall Israel now lives behind.

Somehow you, no "we", lost the peace. Your governance:

  • put us where bin Laden wants us; on the ground in a place where he (and many others) can get at us while you claim to be winning the war on terror.
  • erased a surplus of a trillion dollars, and replaced it with an equal amount of debt; one of bin Laden's goals is to weaken us economically and he surely has--on your watch. Lives and arms chewed up by war in Iraq represent a huge capital loss that can never be recovered.
  • reduced taxes for the rich require the lower and middle classes to repay more of your debt.
  • erased more jobs during your time in office than any president since Hoover; in fact each of the others posted a net job growth.
  • failed utterly to prove your case, even after the fact, for walking into Iraq; no weapons of mass destruction, no links from Hussein to al Qa'ida, no dominos falling for democracy. Even with "successful" elections in Iraq, this is true. It is a disservice to the American people, and to you as well, to proclaim empty victory after empty victory. Countries can indeed democratize, but history shows it is more often after decades of stife that democracy achieves permanence.
  • alienated sympathetic allies by your arrogant demeanor.
  • alienated Americans having reduced respiratory capacity by approving increased emissions at old and inefficient power plants long since written off the books.
  • failed to bring out Iraqis dancing in the streets in a nation gushing enough oil to pay for it all; a few danced, but many were terrified by what they knew would come as reported by people on the ground. And the oil does not flow as projected even as you took extreme care to prevent torching of oil fields--your basic motivation, after vengeance, for going into Iraq.
  • created conditions in Iraq where the Shiites and Sunnis have little choice but to turn upon us.

There was a time when the Bush name generated some thoughts of wisdom.

From your father's memoir, "A World Transformed," written some years ago with Brent Scowcroft, predicted the current state of affairs. Surely you read why he did not overthrow Saddam Hussein and be done with it. To refresh your memory, he wrote:

  • "Trying to eliminate Saddam...would have incurred incalculable human and political costs. Apprehending him was probably impossible.... We would have been forced to occupy Baghdad and, in effect, rule Iraq.... there was no viable "exit strategy" we could see, violating another of our principles. Furthermore, we had been self-consciously trying to set a pattern for handling aggression in the post-Cold War world. Going in and occupying Iraq, thus unilaterally exceeding the United Nations' mandate, would have destroyed the precedent of international response to aggression that we hoped to establish. Had we gone the invasion route, the United States could conceivably still be an occupying power in a bitterly hostile land."

Surely you knew what you were doing; your dad wrote the book! Or were you just trying to prove your dad was right? Either way, it is clear you do not share his goal of international response to aggression, even as you use the fast shuffle of handing off your problems to the UN--you know, the UN you were disparaging just a year ago!

Hopefully you are beginning to listen to your critics inside and outside your administration. Can we excuse you for making a mistake? As a person, of course. But as a world leader, and one of this magnitude? Of course not. As a self-styled war President, you ignored your own foreign policy and military professionals for ideological reasons. Yet, their warnings were prescient, born of experience with real people on the ground.

What we fear is that the history in Palestine, and Vietnam for that matter (...once you make the initial mistake, little you do afterward is right.), may be repeating itself in Iraq.

You had, and still have, access to all the elements needed to begin the process of bringing peace upon earth.

Instead, you persist with policies where even your Neocon pals are forsaking you. See Robert Kagan, William Kristol and the Weekly Standard.


Harry Rosenberg


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