Don Williams
Photo by Justin Williams

Don Williams is a prize-winning columnist, blogger, fiction writer, sometime TV commentator, and is the founder and editor emeritus of New Millennium Writings, an annual anthology of stories, essays and poems. His awards include a National Endowment for the Humanities Journalism Fellowship at the University of Michigan, a Golden Presscard Award from Sigma Delta Chi Society of Professional Journalists, a best Commentary Award from SDC, Best Feature Writing from the Associated Press Tennessee Managing Editors, the Malcolm Law Journalism Prize from the Associated Press, Best Non-Deadline Reporting from the United Press International, Best Novel Excerpt from the Knoxville Writers Guild, a Peacemaker Award from the Oak Ridge Environmental Peace Alliance, five Writer of the Month Awards from the Scripps Howard Newspaper chain, and many others. In 2011 he was inducted into the East Tennessee Writers Hall of Fame. His 2005 book of journalism, Heroes, Sheroes and Zeroes is under revision for a second printing, and he is at work on a novel and a book of journalism. His columns appear at and have been featured at many other well-known websites. To run his column, gratis, at your website, post this link to a dedicated spot: Need a speaker, panelist, tv commentator or teacher for your group or to lead a writing workshop, in your town? Email

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There are many reasons not to go to war
(Copyright by Don Williams, All rights reserved   10/04/2002)

I'm against the coming war with Iraq because:

  • It turns you and me into killers. Plans call for striking Baghdad with overwhelming force, according to the Sept. 28 issue of USA Today. Waves of missiles, jets and drones would strike targets all across Iraq, inflicting death upon thousands in the first few hours. Then as many as 200,000 ground troops would invade. Saddam Hussein--yes, an evil man--has shielded much of his weaponry with civilians, so the deaths of thousands appear inevitable.

  • It's bad manners to send other people's children to die. Few of those saying "we" should invade Iraq will be on the ground to join the freak show. Few of them have ever faced combat. You can bet none of the children or grandchildren of Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld or George Will or George W. Bush or Condoleezza Rice or Paul Wolfowitz or Rush Limbaugh will be among those slogging through rivers of blood and mounds of charred corpses.

  • This war will not make us safer. Martyrs will be made in an instant as nations around the globe behold Americans killing Muslims and, possibly, turning their shrines to rubble. Arab media, such as Al-Jazeera, will replay the tapes endlessly. Thirst for vengeance will be unquenchable.

  • This war will initiate a "New World Order" that few asked for or want. It will serve both as cover for and herald of a doctrine we've hardly debated and one that is wrong-headed in this era of human enlightenment. Go to the Internet and type in "Pax Americana" or "Global Hegemony" to find out more about this policy that took root in the first Bush Administration. A better name for it would be the "Top Dog" doctrine, for it turns Americans into dogs in a dog-eat-dog world. More later.

  • War on Iraq is only the beginning. Journalists have treated Bush's "Axis of Evil" speech as if it were a slip of the tongue or a slick PR ploy. But it wasn't. Iran and North Korea are on the radar screen of this nation's hawks, and in several "New World Order" documents Syria and China and others are also listed as potential targets of U.S. bombs--up to and including a new generation of nuclear weapons. Several documents cast a cold eye towards a unified Europe. An era of unending conflict could follow.

  • Containment works. Deterrence works. With a few exceptions Iraq has more or less behaved for a decade. Saddam knows that if he uses nuclear weapons, we or someone else--perhaps Israel--will annihilate him. He is not suicidal. The rush to war feels more like Bush and company settling old scores rather than reasoned foreign policy. Inspect Iraq? Of course. Infiltrate? Sure. Encourage insurrection? Yes. Assassinate Hussein? Possibly. Conduct selected air strikes at Saddam's palaces and other suspect sites? If we must. But massive killing? Why now?

  • Preemptively striking Iraq sets a bad example. What's to prevent India or Pakistan from "preemptively" striking one another? What's to prevent Russia from laying waste to a half-dozen former provinces? What's to prevent Israel or Syria from launching a devastating preemptive strike? What's to prevent other countries from preemptively striking us?

  • It's a distraction from the war on terror. Questions we should be asking: Is there really a close connection between Saddam and Osama--who hate each other--or is this a myth fostered by hawks? With evidence mounting that our government knew terrorists intended to hijack American planes and use them as weapons, why were we caught so flat-footed on 9-11? What are we doing to reform our so-called ally, Saudi Arabia, which produced 15 of the 9-11 hijackers? Why aren't we moving faster towards creating hydrogen-based cars? Oh, by the way, where is Osama?

  • We have other horrible problems. What will be the consequences of Africa unraveling due to AIDS? What can be done to slow Global Warning, which the Bush Administration didn't bother mentioning in its recent annual environmental report? Is there any way to narrow the growing gap between the rich and poor worldwide short of resurgent Marxism--which we surely don't want? What are we doing to reform the culture of graft and greed dominating many American corporations and dragging us towards economic decline? What are the consequences of ever larger budget deficits--fed by unending war--as baby-boomers move towards retirement?

  • This war won't defeat the root causes of terrorism. Our own policies in Afghanistan helped create the Taliban and Al-Qaeda. According to Newsweek, Donald Rumsfeld himself--while working for President Reagan--personally saw that Iraq received weapons of mass destruction during the ruinous and cynical Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. Unwise export policies continue to arm our enemies with high-tech weaponry. U.S. energy policies of the past six decades have helped spread nuclear technology around the world. Our dependence on oil blinds us to who really brought about 9-11, such as our "friends" in Saudi Arabia. Our current policy of winking at Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian lands even now creates more suicide bombers.

We are not our own worst enemy--that would be Osama bin Laden--but we have made a lot of unnecessary trouble for ourselves over the years. What future horrors are incubating even now, fed by U.S. plans, policies and thoughtless actions? What will be the unintended consequences, ten or twenty years hence, of this rush to war with Iraq?