As reported by CBS News last week, if the Pentagon sticks to its current war plan, one day in March the Air Force and Navy will launch between 300 and 400 cruise missiles at targets in Iraq. This is more than the number that were launched during the entire 40 days of the first Gulf War. On the second day, the plan calls for launching another 300 to 400 cruise missiles.

"There will not be a safe place in Baghdad," said one Pentagon official who has been briefed on the plan. The plan has been dubbed "Shock & Awe." But let's be clear about what we're doing. Baghdad is not a just a military base. It is a city filled with civilians, women, and children. They will die in horrifying ways.

None of our accusations that Iraq has "weapons of mass destruction" has been proven true. Yet this in itself is proof enough for the Bush administration that they exist. Catch-22. If Bush knew that Iraq possessed such weapons, he would not be pursuing war so avidly. Compare his treatment of North Korea, which possesses such weapons. There, the Bush administration is willing to negotiate and offer incentives.

Why, if Iraq is so weak militarily compared to the U.S., do we plan to throw so much devastation so quickly on a civilian population? Because support for this war is so weak that the American people will not stand for many American casualties. The Bush administration does not expect thousands of Iraqi dead to have the same effect on public opinion. The deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens, many children, as the result of the destruction of water and power plants in Iraq in the last war, our contamination of Iraq with radiation from depleted uranium shells, and by our punitive trade sanctions, have gone largely unnoticed in the press.

It is, or will be, evident to the world that after this "liberation" Iraq will be just another colony of the oil cartel. Thomas Friedman, New York Times columnist, said on NPR last summer that the best outcome would be another dictator, but one who is friendly to the U.S. Look at what Afghanistan got in the aftermath of war - very little humanitarian aid, and a puppet ruler whose first order of business was to okay the natural-gas pipeline that the Taliban had been holding up.

Let's quit pretending we have the moral high ground. The USA has the world's largest cache of weapons of mass destruction. Let's quit pretending we are the injured party. There are no credible links between Saddam and Al-Qaeda. If you feel the need for revenge, we have already killed more civilians in Afghanistan than died in the World Trade Center. How many more innocents must die? Will their families demand revenge? Wake up, America. Terrorism is an act of desperation and powerlessness. What shall we call the cruel use of an overwhelming military might against a civilian population?

Melita Tunnicliff

Will War Make Us Safer?

Regarding the pending war in Iraq, it seems the experts agree on a few things. Saddam Hussein is a very bad guy. He's dangerous and we need to devise strategies to make sure he is not a threat to the world. There are other world leaders who are bad guys - for instance, the leader of North Korea. Saddam Hussein is not responsible for what happened on 9-11. The U.S. has never before launched a war on a country that had not attacked us first. The international community does not support this war at this time. A war will cost us something like $50 billion to $100 billion. So, because we are afraid of the threat posed by one man, we are going to send 250,000 of our young people to fight and kill the young people of Iraqi parents.

Will this war make us safer? It will not affect Al-Qaeda - the people who were responsible for 9-11. In fact, it is likely that it will lead to more terrorism and violent attacks on us. It might or might not lead to the unseating of Saddam Hussein. It will certainly lead to the deaths of many, many Iraqi people - who are victims of Saddam now and not responsible for Saddam's bad acts. It will likely lead to the deaths of many American young people serving in our military. It might escalate a war throughout the Middle East.

These suggest that it will actually make us (and the world) less safe. If you oppose this war at this time, you can call the White House at (202)456-1111 and tell the friendly person who answers the phone how you feel about this war.

Cathy Bolkcom

Columnist Must Answer Ethics Questions

Rich Miller's name was included in the Scott Fawell trial list of those requesting patronage jobs from George Ryan. If Rich Miller has ever asked for help securing a government job for anyone he is involved with, he has compromised his integrity as a journalist. Any continuation of the publishing of Rich Miller's columns will likewise compromise the integrity of your company and service to your customers. I must demand that Rich Miller's column be discontinued immediately if he refuses to answer questions surrounding his involvement in soliciting a government job, or if he does in fact admit to this unethical behavior.

Jeff Trigg
Executive Director, Libertarian Party of Illinois

Editor's note:
To read Rich Miller's side of the Fawell-list controversy, see his column here.

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