The anger over the Iraq war is multifaceted. Some are angry
believing they were lied to in order to gain their support
at the beginning. Others are angry that the forty billion
dollars we spend every year on intelligence gathering failed
to provide good information. Proponents of the war too often
are unable to admit the truth. They become frustrated with
the progress of the war and then turn on those wanting to
change course, angrily denouncing them as unpatriotic and
Those accused are quick to respond to the insulting charges
made by those who want to fight on forever without regard to
casualties. Proponents of the war do not hesitate to
challenge the manhood of war critics, accusing them of
wanting to cut and run. Some war supporters ducked military
service themselves while others fought and died, only adding
to the anger of those who have seen battle up close and now
question our campaign in Iraq.
When people see a $600 million embassy being built in
Baghdad, while funding for services here in the United
States is hard to obtain, they become angry. They can’t
understand why the money is being spent, especially when
they are told by our government that we have no intention of
remaining permanently in Iraq.
The bickering and anger will not subside soon, since victory
in Iraq is not on the horizon and a change in policy is not
The neoconservative instigators of the war are angry at
everyone: at the people who want to get out of Iraq; and
especially at those prosecuting the war for not bombing more
aggressively, sending in more troops, and expanding the war
As our country becomes poorer due to the cost of the war,
anger surely will escalate. Much of it will be justified.
It seems bizarre that it’s so unthinkable to change course
if the current policy is failing. Our leaders are like a
physician who makes a wrong diagnosis and prescribes the
wrong medicine, but because of his ego can’t tell the
patient he made a mistake. Instead he hopes the patient will
get better on his own. But instead of improving, the patient
gets worse from the medication wrongly prescribed. This
would be abhorrent behavior in medicine, but tragically it
is commonplace in politics.
If the truth is admitted, it would appear that the lives
lost and the money spent have been in vain. Instead, more
casualties must be sustained to prove a false premise. What
a tragedy! If the truth is admitted, imagine the anger of
all the families that already have suffered such a burden.
That burden is softened when the families and the wounded
are told their great sacrifice was worthy, and required to
preserve our freedoms and our Constitution.
But no one is allowed to ask the obvious. How have the 2,500
plus deaths, and the 18,500 wounded, made us more free? What
in the world does Iraq have to do with protecting our civil
liberties here at home? What national security threat
prompted America’s first pre-emptive war? How does our
unilateral enforcement of UN resolutions enhance our
These questions aren’t permitted. They are not politically
correct. I agree that the truth hurts, and these questions
are terribly hurtful to the families that have suffered so
much. What a horrible thought it would be to find out the
cause for which we fight is not quite so noble.
I don’t believe those who hide from the truth and refuse to
face the reality of the war do so deliberately. The pain is
too great. Deep down, psychologically, many are incapable of
admitting such a costly and emotionally damaging error. They
instead become even greater and more determined supporters
of the failed policy.
I would concede that there are some – especially the
die-hard neoconservatives, who believe it is our moral duty
to spread American goodness through force and remake the
Middle East – who neither suffer regrets nor are bothered
by the casualties. They continue to argue for more war
without remorse, as long as they themselves do not have to
fight. Criticism is reserved for the wimps who want to “cut
Due to the psychological need to persist with the failed
policy, the war proponents must remain in denial of many
facts staring them in the face.
They refuse to accept that the real reason for our invasion
and occupation of Iraq was not related to terrorism.
They deny that our military is weaker as a consequence of
They won’t admit that our invasion has served the interests
of Osama Bin Laden. They continue to blame our image
problems around the world on a few bad apples.
They won’t admit that our invasion has served the interests
of Iran’s radical regime.
The cost in lives lost and dollars spent is glossed over,
and the deficit spirals up without concern.
They ridicule those who point out that our relationships
with our allies have been significantly damaged.
We have provided a tremendous incentive for Russia and
China, and others like Iran, to organize through the
Shanghai Cooperation Organization. They entertain future
challenges to our plans to dominate South East Asia, the
Middle East, and all its oil.
Radicalizing the Middle East will in the long term
jeopardize Israel’s security, and increase the odds of this
War supporters cannot see that for every Iraqi killed,
another family turns on us – regardless of who did the
killing. We are and will continue to be blamed for every
wrong done in Iraq: all deaths, illness, water problems,
food shortages, and electricity outages.
As long as our political leaders persist in these denials,
the war won’t end. The problem is that this is the source of
the anger, because the American people are not in denial and
want a change in policy.
Policy changes in wartime are difficult, for it is almost
impossible for the administration to change course since so
much emotional energy has been invested in the effort.
That’s why Eisenhower ended the Korean War, and not Truman.
That’s why Nixon ended the Vietnam War, and not LBJ. Even in
the case of Vietnam the end was too slow and costly, as more
then 30,000 military deaths came after Nixon’s election in
1968. It makes a lot more sense to avoid unnecessary wars
than to overcome the politics involved in stopping them once
started. I personally am convinced that many of our wars
could be prevented by paying stricter attention to the
method whereby our troops are committed to battle. I also am
convinced that when Congress does not declare war, victory
The most important thing Congress can do to prevent needless
and foolish wars is for every member to take seriously his
or her oath to obey the Constitution. Wars should be entered
into only after great deliberation and caution. Wars that
are declared by Congress should reflect the support of the
people, and the goal should be a quick and successful
Our undeclared wars over the past 65 years have dragged on
without precise victories. We fight to spread American
values, to enforce UN resolutions, and to slay supposed
Hitlers. We forget that we once spread American values by
persuasion and setting an example – not by bombs and
preemptive invasions. Nowhere in the Constitution are we
permitted to go to war on behalf of the United Nations at
the sacrifice of our national sovereignty. We repeatedly use
military force against former allies, thugs we helped
empower – like Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden – even
when they pose no danger to us.
The 2002 resolution allowing the president to decide when
and if to invade Iraq is an embarrassment. The Constitution
authorizes only Congress to declare war. Our refusal to
declare war transferred power to the president illegally,
without a constitutional amendment. Congress did this with a
simple resolution, passed by majority vote. This means
Congress reneged on its responsibility as a separate branch
of government, and should be held accountable for the bad
policy in Iraq that the majority of Americans are now upset
about. Congress is every bit as much at fault as the
Constitutional questions aside, the American people should
have demanded more answers from their government before they
supported the invasion and occupation of a foreign country.
Some of the strongest supporters of the war declare that we
are a Christian nation, yet use their religious beliefs to
justify the war. They claim it is our Christian duty to
remake the Middle East and attack the Muslim infidels.
Evidently I have been reading from a different Bible. I
remember something about “Blessed are the peacemakers.”
My beliefs aside, Christian teaching of nearly a thousand
years reinforces the concept of “The Just War Theory.” This
Christian theory emphasizes six criteria needed to justify
Christian participation in war. Briefly the six points are
• War should
be fought only in self defense;
• War should be undertaken only as a last resort;
• A decision to enter war should be made only by a
• All military responses must be proportional to the
• There must be a reasonable chance of success; and
• A public declaration notifying all parties concerned
The war in Iraq fails to meet almost all of these
requirements. This discrepancy has generated anger and division within
the Christian community.
Some are angry because the war is being fought out of Christian duty,
yet does not have uniform support from all Christians. Others are angry
because they see Christianity as a religion of peace and forgiveness,
not war and annihilation of enemies.
Constitutional and moral restraints on war should be strictly followed.
It is understandable when kings, dictators, and tyrants take their
people into war, since it serves their selfish interests – and those
sent to fight have no say in the matter. It is more difficult to
understand why democracies and democratic legislative bodies, which have
a say over the issue of war, so readily submit to the executive branch
of government. The determined effort of the authors of our Constitution
to firmly place the power to declare war in the legislative branch has
been ignored in the decades following WWII.
Many members have confided in me that they are quite comfortable with
this arrangement. They flatly do not expect, in this modern age, to
formally declare war ever again. Yet no one predicts there will be fewer
wars fought. It is instead assumed they will be ordered by the executive
branch or the United Nations – a rather sad commentary.
What about the practical arguments against war, since no one seems
interested in exerting constitutional or moral restraints? Why do we
continue to fight prolonged, political wars when the practical results
are so bad? Our undeclared wars since 1945 have been very costly, to put
it mildly. We have suffered over one hundred thousand military deaths,
and even more serious casualties. Tens of thousands have suffered from
serious war-related illnesses. Sadly, we as a nation express essentially
no concern for the millions of civilian casualties in the countries
where we fought.
The cost of war since 1945, and our military presence in over 100
countries, exceeds two trillion dollars in today’s dollars. The cost in
higher taxes, debt, and persistent inflation is immeasurable. Likewise,
the economic opportunities lost by diverting trillions of dollars into
war is impossible to measure, but it is huge. Yet our presidents persist
in picking fights with countries that pose no threat to us, refusing to
participate in true diplomacy to resolve differences. Congress over the
decades has never resisted the political pressures to send our troops
abroad on missions that defy imagination.
When the people object to a new adventure, the propaganda machine goes
into action to make sure critics are seen as unpatriotic Americans or
The military-industrial complex we were warned about has been
transformed into a military-media-industrial-government complex that is
capable of silencing the dissenters and cheerleading for war. It’s only
after years of failure that people are able to overcome the propaganda
for war and pressure their representatives in Congress to stop the
needless killing. Many times the economic costs of war stir people to
demand an end. This time around the war might be brought to a halt by
our actual inability to pay the bills due to a dollar crisis. A dollar
crisis will make borrowing 2.5 billion dollars per day from foreign
powers like China and Japan virtually impossible, at least at affordable
That’s when we will be forced to reassess the spending spree, both at
home and abroad.
The solution to this mess is not complicated; but the changes needed are
nearly impossible for political reasons. Sound free market economics,
sound money, and a sensible foreign policy would all result from strict
adherence to the Constitution. If the people desired it, and Congress
was filled with responsible members, a smooth although challenging
transition could be achieved. Since this is unlikely, we can only hope
that the rule of law and the goal of liberty can be reestablished
We must move quickly toward a more traditional American foreign policy
of peace, friendship, and trade with all nations; entangling alliances
with none. We must reject the notion that we can or should make the
world safe for democracy. We must forget about being the world’s
policeman. We should disengage from the unworkable and unforgiving task
of nation building. We must reject the notion that our military should
be used to protect natural resources, private investments, or serve the
interest of any foreign government or the United Nations. Our military
should be designed for one purpose: defending our national security.
It’s time to come home now, before financial conditions or military
weakness dictates it.
The major obstacle to a sensible foreign policy is the fiction about
what patriotism means. Today patriotism has come to mean blind support
for the government and its policies. In earlier times patriotism meant
having the willingness and courage to challenge government policies
regardless of popular perceptions.
Today we constantly hear innuendos and direct insults aimed at those who
dare to challenge current foreign policy, no matter how flawed that
policy may be. I would suggest it takes more courage to admit the truth,
to admit mistakes, than to attack others as unpatriotic for disagreeing
with the war in Iraq.
Remember, the original American patriots challenged the abuses of King
George, and wrote and carried out the Declaration of Independence.
Yes Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of anger in this country. Much of it is
justified; some of it is totally unnecessary and misdirected. The only
thing that can lessen this anger is an informed public, a better
understanding of economic principles, a rejection of foreign
intervention, and a strict adherence to the constitutional rule of law.
This will be difficult to achieve, but it’s not impossible and well
worth the effort.