February 9, 2003
I'm new to this

I'm new to this blogging stuff, and I'm a little confused about my voice. I try to have a wry, sometimes sarcastic but always incandescent humor, and I overwrite frequently (this is a good example), but my first post here confused all (read both) of the readers.

For one thing, my tone is meant to indicate sarcasm, but my tone isn't coming through. Guess what? I don't really think that we can mount a special op to rid of Saddam Hussein and his "weapons of mass distraction."

My last post was colored by the information that the age group with the lowest voter turnout is 18-24. These guys don't vote at all, hardly. There are, I think, huge numbers of them, but, according to a recent All Things Considered piece (the great news show on NPR), they don't believe that there are any issues which affect them. I'm told that, when polled, college students who supported the notion of going to war with were also entirely against being drafted. I had the faintest whiff of an idea that this blog could take the voice of a fellow 18-24 year-old speaking to others about politics and the world but perhaps the world and I are not ready for this development.

I don't think we should go to war with Iraq. Preemptive war -- based upon the idea that someone or some country might commit an act of war in the future -- is an offense to democratic principles and the most firmly established principles of international law. The U.S. has, in the hands of the present -- what's the word I'm looking for? -- lunatics running the White House, totally destroyed its credibility as a forthright nation doing good all over the planet and undermined its position as the model for democracy. The blatant erosion of civil liberties -- the most firmly established and basic rights accorded Americans by the Constitution -- is now being accompanied by what many properly see as opportunistic, imperialistic behavior.

The reason I mention the vast divide between our policy toward Iraq and other nations that pose the same, or greater, threats than Iraq is to call into question the reasons proffered by the administration for urgently seeking to invade Iraq. Another good piece of evidence that we haven't heard truthful motives for the war is that, as many have pointed out (Maureen Dowd comes to mind, for one), that the White House has proffered many different rationales for this war, some at the same time. There's disarm, there's regime change -- Bush then redefined regime change by saying that if Saddam changed his mind about using weapons than that would constitute regime change -- and others. (If Saddam changed his shirt would that constitute regime change? If he gave us four quarters for a dollar bill, would that constitute regime change?)

No less an authority than Al Gore (can't believe I'm referring to him) has described the war as a "distraction." There are many reasons to suspect that Bush and his pals may, at least in part, be using the war to distract from many things, the tanking economy, and the failure of the Bush administration to combat al Qaeda (the CIA reports that it as strong as it was before September 11) among them.

Part of my skepticism springs from Bush's lack of credibility with me. We have to "trust him" that we need to do it, based upon information the Administration won't reveal (I know, the dog and pony show at the U.N. revealed something but I'd like to see all the information in context -- I'll explain later). This is the most secretive administration in the history of the U.S. I cannot trust a group of people who believe that I shouldn't have meaningful information about Iraq and input into the most important decisions facing the President.

Why all the secrecy? If there's nothing to hide, let us know about it. Let us know how decisions are made, the processes used, the people consulted, the information upon which the White House relies. The only reason that information is kept from normal citizens like you and me is that this would diminish support for the actions which this Administration is taking. Don't talk to me about "chilling" the President's ability to make decisions, Mr. Cheney. We want him to make decisions with us in mind. I'm not saying he should be poll driven, but he should derive his power from the people. That's what democracy is all about.

Posted by Tom Burka at 5:43 PM in Commentary