Dear Mr. President, here are ten things you could do to turn critics into flag-waving supporters of your fast approaching war in Iraq. Are you listening?
1. Show us the evidence. You owe us this much. If Iraq has weapons of mass destruction and if Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9/11 and you have proof, share it with the world. If you would put sons and daughters in harm's way--not to mention thousands of innocent Iraqi citizens--show us why. Others have. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy revealed secret aerial photographs of Soviet warheads in Cuba. Anything less would have seemed absurd as he led us to the brink of nuclear war. The same standard should apply now.
2. Make it clear we don't want to rule the world. Tell friends and foes alike we're not empire building. Why should other countries open military bases for our attack on Iraq when it could be them we come after next? Such fears may seem unreasonable, but your advisers have fanned those fears with loose talk of "global hegemony" and a "Pax-Americana" and other fancy phrases that hint at an American empire. Respectfully, Mr. President, top dog in a dog-eat-dog world is not what most of us want for our country. It's a vision thing.
3. Explain again how the coming war is not just "blood for oil," as some suspect. You, your father and many of your top advisers owe their wealth, prestige and power to oil. It's impossible to believe you haven't spent lots of time thinking about those massive oil deposits in Iraq. It's time you shared those thoughts.
4. Show us your plan for cutting off oil money to terrorist states. Contrary to recent public service announcements, it's oil money--not kids buying pot--that finances big-time terrorism. Show us what you are doing to bring on "The Hydrogen Economy." That's the title of a book by Jeremy Rifkin. You should read it. Rifkin shows how the world will become even more dependent on Arab oil over the next 20 years as deposits elsewhere tap out. How about a crash program to hasten hybrid cars and hydrogen fuel-cell technology and renewable energy? Oil's the cheapest way to go ONLY if you don't count the costs of global warming or fighting wars or big-time terrorism.
5. Show us your plan for dealing with possible unintended consequences of your war. What will you do, for instance, if the fundamentalist Muslim majority in Pakistan rises up and seizes its nukes? Or if extremists seize the oil fields in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait? Or if North Korea uses our preoccupation with Iraq to crank out nukes and sell them abroad? Or if Israel uses your war as cover to expand settlements? Or if Kurds, Shiites, Sunnis and others unleash fratricidal killing in Iraq, Iran and Turkey? Or if Saddam blows up the oilfields?
6. Announce a bold new initiative to shut down the worldwide weapons trade. I know you're aware that your daddy and Rumsfeld and Cheney helped arm Saddam and Osama. Sure, they had their reasons, just as you have for arming fleeting allies now. But look what a mess we made. Saddam purchased chemicals and other parts for WMDs from U.S. corporations even AFTER he gassed the Kurds. Tell us those corporations are not now corrupting other corners of the world that we'll have to clean up in 10 or 20 years.
7. Remind us why we shouldn't just keep Saddam bottled up and under surveillance until the aging lunatic dies or is eased from power. He can't live forever.
8. Assure us that whatever was broken before 9/11 has been fixed. Neither the FBI nor the CIA were impressive then and I haven't noticed any big shake-ups affecting them. Could you possibly assign an intern or somebody to phone flight-schools and keep tabs on their rosters? By the way, where's Osama?
9. Reassure us that this war isn't just a distraction as you sell off old-growth timber, undermine air and water standards, give tax breaks to your power base, weaken civil liberties, wage your culture wars and manipulate popularity polls.
10. Reach out to the world community and make us some friends. For instance, you could restore funding to healthcare facilities in the Third World--even those that distribute condoms--and fight the spread of AIDS, now poised to lay waste to Asia and Eastern Europe. Or you could own up to our role in global warming and offer a plan for slowing it. While you're at it, how about forgiving some third world debtors so that fledgling democracies can survive? It'd be money well spent.
In closing, Mr. President, I'll bet if you take even half of these steps--say numbers one through five--support for your coming war on Iraq will increase dramatically.