The debate regarding whether or not the US properly "sold" the war with respect to whether or not Iraq "wanted" or "had" a nuclear policy is appropriate, but the questions being asked imply that there were really only two choices:


1.  choice #1:  "do nothing" and let Iraq destroy us or harm us as per 9/11. 2.  choice #2:  fight a PRE-EMPTIVE war (aggressive) to defang Iraq as they were a "clear and present" and "imminent" danger.


Of course, there were many other options, including ongoing UN inspections which would not have had the same cost of lives on either side, nor financial costs both in Iraq and even here in the US, while probably continuing the containment that was keeping Iraq quiet for the last 10-12 years.  This option is being conveniently overlooked in the debate making it seem like we HAD to have a war if we find any weapons at all, or had any suspicions of such weapons having existed.  If this is a pretext for war, then certainly Israel, Iran, N. Korea, China, Britain, France, Russia and S. Africa, along with Pakistan and India are all potentially targets for someone who is afraid of those countries and their obvious existing and known stockpiles of chemical, biological and nuclear weaponry.  Why should not India attack Pakistan (or vice versa), or the Arab countries attack Israel using the same "pre-emptive" guidelines we chose?


The second question that is being conveniently avoided is that the "threshold" for fighting a "pre-emptive" war seems to have been very low.  While we were TOLD by President Bush that there was a "clear, present and imminent" danger, in fact, he did not take the time nor the interest to even read the intelligence briefing reports and determine that a lot of the information he was retailing was partially or wholly discredited and had moderate to low levels of confidence placed in them.


The third question being avoided is the fact that our country entered into a pre-emptive war scenario, disregarding all the other less invasive, harmful and costly options that were available, without taking into account the reactions of the rest of the world, as well as the issues involved in rebuilding a country once we have destroyed its infrastructure and governmental integrity (even if we don't like that government!).  As we have all learned over time, it is easy to destroy, difficult to create.   The real issues of the rebuilding were glossed over, the real concerns and costs were simply ignored and we now wonder why we are being dragged into enormous, long-term financial commitments (as well as military commitments) and why the rest of the world is less than interested in "bailing us out" after they tried to warn us that we were going in a dangerous direction initially.


Clearly this is foreign policy that has lost all sense of balance, and all "nuance" to understand that war is the LAST resort, not the FIRST.  The consequences of the mess of this fanatic and short-sighted and narrow-minded fascination on war and destruction will be with us for a long time.


It is not just President Bush and his team who are responsible for this, but also the democrats in Congress who failed to make a clear and direct statement, but who simply voted away the war-making power last October.  We were "sold" with one-sided information and half-truths, and none of our "loyal opposition" took the time or made the effort to make the case for a more realistic, far-seeing view of how to live and survive in a dangerous world.


Santosh Krinsky

Twin Lakes, Wisconsin

July 19, 2003