A 2002 piece I wrote opposing the invasion of Iraq

 In Reclaiming Democracy

A few illogical arguments for the elimination of Saddam Hussein
October 12, 2002, Asheville Citizen-Times
By Bruce Mulkey

“After all, this is a guy that tried to kill my dad.”
–President George W. Bush about Saddam Hussein

“I can appreciate his obsessive need to prove his masculinity and defend his family name. But should Americans kill and die for that?”
–Dr. Susan Block about George W. Bush

“The first casualty when war comes is truth.”
–Hiram Johnson

Thousands, perhaps millions of Americans are saying “Yes” to peace and “No” to a war on Iraq—via telephone calls, e-mail, the U.S. Postal Service and their feet. Here in Asheville letters to the editor in the Citizen-Times overwhelmingly oppose a pre-emptive strike against Iraq, and over 125 citizens from all walks of life gathered at Pack Square last Sunday, in solidarity with thousands of other demonstrators throughout the U.S., to declare “Not in my name.”

Yet the relentless march to war by the Bush administration and camp followers proceeds. Congress has folded like a cheap suit, giving the President the authority to bully another second-rate power into submission. Yeah, we’re number one … as long as we pick on nations we can easily defeat.

There is no doubt that Saddam Hussein is an aggressive tyrant who maintains power through brutality and armed force. Of course, he was one of our guys in the Middle East until he lurched into Kuwait, but no one has ever accused us of choosing allies for their adherence to democratic principles. Nonetheless the Bush administration’s justifications for the proposed crusade against our latest Public Enemy Number One (Does anybody remember Osama bin Laden?) are worthy of close scrutiny.

Iraq has weapons of mass destruction.
Probably, since Reagan and President Bush’s Dad allowed biological and chemical weapons to be exported to Iraq in the 1980s. But Israel, Iran, Syria, Libya, Egypt, Pakistan, Russia, India, North Korea, China and France among others also have such weapons. So, yes, let’s join with the United Nations in taking nonviolent actions to assure that Iraq’s nuclear, biological or chemical weapons stockpiles are destroyed, and along with them, those of other nations that possess them. And at the same time, let’s agree to destroy the most lethal stockpile of weapons of mass destruction in the world: America’s.

Iraq is a grave threat to the people of the U.S.
If you watched President Bush’s speech Monday night, you might get the impression that an Iraqi attack on the U.S. is inevitable, maybe even imminent. But the Americans who are most threatened are those young men and women who would be ordered into battle in the proposed pre-emptive invasion. Compared to Russia and China, countries who could readily target U.S. cities with their nuclear warheads, however, Iraq poses a minor threat.

Iraq is in league with al Qaida and was involved in the 9-11 attacks on the U.S.
Despite Bush’s best efforts to link Iraq and al Qaida, no evidence has been revealed that supports this allegation.

We can fight a war against Iraq and avoid heavy casualties.
If you’re talking about American casualties, maybe. But no one can accurately predict what will happen once combat begins. One thing is highly probable, however; thousands of innocent civilians, women and children included, will be annihilated in the onslaught of our “smart” weaponry.

Anyone who dissents from the course chosen by the President is a coward or a traitor.
Sometimes it’s difficult to discern who is most dangerous to the fabric of our nation: those who would attack us on our soil or those who would frighten us into a risky war using half-truths and specious arguments to justify it. While it is necessary to defend ourselves against terrorists who wish to harm us, speaking out against illegal and immoral actions by our government is the duty of every loyal citizen. If we had followed the lead of two courageous senators, Wayne Morse of Oregon and Ernest Gruening of Alaska, in saying “no” to the Gulf of Tonkin resolution in 1964, approximately 50,000 Americans and more than one million Vietnamese might still be alive today.

Our President has said that we must protect our nation by eradicating the designated “evil ones” of the world who threaten our safety and security. The real evil that must be confronted, however, is any human’s willingness to put the life of man, woman or child in harm’s way without exhausting every conceivable avenue for reconciliation.

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