The first time it happened, I was in the third grade. I was playing on the playground when a girl I didn't know approached me. She whispered in my ear, "If McGovern gets elected, he's gonna make us go to school on Saturdays!", and then ran off.
Somehow I knew that it couldn't possibly be true, that no president would have any interest in changing the school schedule. The idea that someone was going around spreading lies and that someone else might believe it made feel enraged and powerless.
Since then, of course, I have heard many people violate the truth in order to further a political agenda. I still feel the same anger.
Many terrorists who kill innocent men, women, and children on the streets of Baghdad are followers of the same murderous ideology that took the lives of our citizens in New York, in Washington, and Pennsylvania. There is only one course of action against them: to defeat them abroad before they attack us at home.
In the president's speech last night, he wasn't as egregious as that anonymous girl from the third grade. He didn't ever actually say that the people we're fighting in Iraq had anything to do with the 9-11 attacks, but he did everything he could to link the two in the minds of the American people, regardless of the fact that there has been no proof that Saddam Hussein had anything to do with 9-11. Now that the war has attracted terrorists from all over the region, Bush switches cause with effect and uses their presence to justify our invading in the first place.
In the months before the U. S. invaded Iraq, I actually did believe that Saddam had chemical and/or biological weapons. It seemed reasonable since he had used them in the past against the Kurds. But I was still opposed to the war. His wrongdoing in his own country and in the Middle East should be addressed by international bodies, with the U. S. participating along with the rest of the world to seek solutions. Iraq had not attacked or threatened the United States, so a U. S. invasion was not justified. PRE-EMPTIVE WAR IS FOOLISH, DANGEROUS, AND EVIL.
Bush's argument is that we have the right to wage war on people whom we THINK might want to attack us in order to prevent them from doing it. Using that line of thinking, Cuba would be justified in attacking America. Castro knows full well that our government despises him. We've even tried to invade him in the past. And we definitely have weapons of mass destruction. Even though we haven't threatened any invasion recently, should Castro, in the interests of preventing an attack on the Cuban people before it happens, gather a coalition of willing countries to come in and try to take our government down? No, because PRE-EMPTIVE WAR IS FOOLISH, DANGEROUS, AND EVIL.
I don't know what the ideal way to handle Iraq is now. My best suggestion was the one I was proposing two years ago: Don't invade. It's too late for that one now, so we have to figure out what is the second-best approach. Packing up and leaving tomorrow could easily result in even more bloodshed, and we do have a responsibility to stay and clean up our mess.
Our attempts to rectify things would need to start with a word that Bush as a Christian is certainly familiar with -- repentance. Acknowledge what we've done wrong and be ready to work with the Iraqi people to make things right. As long as we continue to color the truth in an attempt to justify ourselves we'll get nowhere.