November 10, 2002

Voice of Experience and Reason

A number of people have made comparisons between the U.S. in 2002 and back in the 50s. Most of that is based on the similarity of the repressive activities of John Ashcroft and those of Joseph McCarthy. But in another important sense this period couldn't be more different. President Eisenhower was chosen to be president for essentially one reason, he was the commander of the invasion of Nazi Europe. Under a man of such unquestionable military credentials, the country stayed relatively free from war.

The Korean War, which had begun June 27, 1950, was well underway when Eisenhower took office Jan. 20, 1953, and by July 27 of that year the hostilities were over.

Now we have a chief executive who has never been within thousands of miles of a battlefield and he's the most war-hungry president in memory. Even military people are opposed to his hare-brained idea to invade Iraq. James Webb, who was Secretary of the Navy under Ronald Reagan, recently told military officers the U.S. should not invade Iraq. (See The Monterey Herald.)

According to the Herald, "Webb said that without a clear understanding of consequences - or a clear exit strategy - U.S. forces face a decades-long occupation that could sap American resolve and resources."

The U.S. also risks inflaming more Arab anger if it attacks Iraq without resolving the Palestinian crisis, Webb said. Webb said toppling and rebuilding the government of Iraq would be a mistake unless the U.S. were in direct danger, and of that there is no evidence. The U.S. military's 1.5 million people are "not that many" when spread out over the worlde.

"There are a lot of recently retired officers with experience who are concerned," he said.

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