War in Iraq
Background. In 2000 I voted for George Bush, without enthusiasm. Immediately following 09.11, I was impressed, as most of us were, by the way Mr. Bush conducted himself. I ultimately agreed, as most of us did, with his decision to invade Afghanistan, the country that had provided a physical base of operation for Osama bin Laden and his recruits. But, as early as 09.17 I stated as follows my reservations about relying primarily upon offensive military action:
I don't claim to know what our government should do in the days ahead other than do its damndest to protect us from further acts of domestic terrorism. One hopes, however, that the grand strategists will try to imagine all the possible consequences, intended and unintended, of any military course of action considered. Stated differently, one hopes that Osama bin Laden will not outwit us once again.
Although I otherwise have supported, as most of us have, all reasonable steps to defend the country against further attack, I was an immediate and lonely opponent (along with the likes of conservative-minded columnist William Safire) of Attorney General John Ashcroft's pretextual use of 09.11 to push the so-called Patriot Act through Congress, an act which Senators Kerry and Edwards and my opponent, Mr. Ramstad, supported. On 10.26.2001 I wrote on my website, WWW.LawAndEverythingElse.Com:
Congressmen pass bill they haven't read. I'm talking about the anti-terrorism bill just passed by Congress and signed by [Mr. Bush]. Click here for an article in Reason on the shameful process. As the article points out, in response to the events of 09.11, Attorney General Ashcroft's aides "dusted off" some old proposals and plugged them into a bill, telling Congress and the public that they desperately needed the bill if they were going to find those responsible for 09.11 and prevent another 09.11. In times of crisis, Congress always passes some new ill-considered legislation. Witness the legislative hysteria surrounding our entry into WWI. It reminds one of the old directive, "Don't just stand there, do something." Ike once asked, "Have you ever considered doing nothing?" I'm not suggesting that would have been a wise response. I'm saying any changes that affect our liberties should be an improvement on doing nothing. The benefits should outweigh the costs. No evidence of that. No evidence even as to what the bill says. As the article states, it's hard to even find a copy of the bill, much less read it. But it's a sad truth about many of our "governors" -- executives, legislators, judges -- that they don't write their own stuff or even read it. Justice Brandeis once said that what distinguished Justices of the U. S. Supreme Court from others in Government was that "We do our own work." Justice Frankfurter wrote of Chief Justice Hughes that "he could tear the pages of a book off" and that for him the life of a judge was "a scholar's life." It's no longer so, folks. And it's a damn shame.
Unlike Senators Kerry and Edwards and unlike my opponent, Mr. Ramstad, I also contemporaneously stated -- publicly -- that I opposed Mr. Bush's decision to pre-emptively attack Iraq. My reasoning was simple: I did not think the evidence offered by the proponents of invasion supported the invasion. For example, on 11.25.2001 I noted the early talk about invading Iraq and of conservative commentators criticisms of Secreatary of State Colin Powell's voice of restraint as follows:
Colin Powell. The rightwingers don't like him. If you visit web sites like Lucianne.Com -- a useful site where rightists post links to their favorite news stories -- you'll see that for many of them their idea of fun consists, in part, of throwing darts at old targets no longer holding office, like Bill Clinton, and at people in office whose influence they'd like to reduce, like Colin Powell. George Will's column in the Washington Post today, 11.25.2001, is an example. The underlying theme of most of the rightwingers' complaints about Powell: he believes in restraint and diplomacy. According to this line of reasoning, bad boys believe in restraint and diplomacy, good boys want to bomb Iraq -- and now, not later. Here's the latest profile of Powell that at least aims at objectivity: The World According to Powell by Bill Keller from the 11.25.2001 issue of the New York Times SundayMagazine.
On 09.20.2002, as the President and his supporters moved us closer to invading Iraq, I asked rhetorically what sort of war they were contemplating, then said:
I admit, sometimes in life we have to "sin bravely," as Martin Luther said. Is this such a time? Cheney & Bush haven't convinced me yet. Have they convinced you? If Ike were President, would he be leading us into war? Unlike Cheney & Bush, Ike had been a soldier himself and knew personally what war is all about -- which is perhaps why military men often are the main voices of restraint and caution, of Reason, in matters like this.
While I maintained that the evidence relied upon by the proponents of war was insufficient to justify invasion, we now know that the evidence also was unreliable. Curiously, my opponent, Mr. Ramstad, was quoted in September of 2002 as saying he personally had questions about the degree of threat Sadam Hussein posed. But those reservations did not prevent him from supporting the now-infamous resolution authorizing the President to order an invasion. He justified his vote by saying he felt the resolution would "strengthen our diplomatic efforts to disarm Sadam Hussein and enhance the prospect of a peaceful outcome." This is what is called "trying to have it both ways." Minnesota's two senators at the time, Wellstone and Dayton, both wisely and presciently voted against the resolution, as did the Democratic members of the House; Mr. Ramstad and his fellow Republicans in the House from Minnesota, Kennedy and Gutknecht, supported the President and voted for the resolution. Consistent with my contemporaneously-published public statements, I would have voted against the resolution.
If elected, I will be an intelligent, independent, and fearless representative voice both within the party and within the Congress.
Copyright (c) 2004 by Burton Randall Hanson. Prepared & published by candidate on his own behalf and at his own expense. Candidate may be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Candidate does not solicit or accept contributions or endorsements.