In August 2002 I traveled from my home in Albany, NY to New York City to take part in a "gathering"--carefully not called a "demonstration"--that antiwar activists hoped would influence our Senators to oppose an invasion of Iraq. Several hundred people participated; similar gatherings took place all over the country, though they didn't receive much publicity. Only a few leaders got into the Senators' offices, but we were all encouraged to bring brief statements that would be passed on to the Senators. This was mine.
Don't kid yourselves. A U.S. attack on Iraq will not be "preemptive," in intent or results. And the world will see it for what it is, naked aggression. Three issues are relevant: Iraqi weapons of mass destruction, Iraqi ties to al-Qaida, and Bush Administration motives.
On the subject of weapons of mass destruction, there are three possibilities. A U.S. search may turn up nothing, after thousands of Americans and tens of thousands of Iraqis have been killed. Alternatively, we may find weapons in the development stage; but there will be no proof they were meant for anything but homeland defense. The third possibility is that the weapons already exist--or will by the time we get there--and an invasion will force Saddam Hussein to use them, when he might never have done so otherwise. Israel will bear the brunt of his attack, and Israeli retaliation may bring the whole Arab world into the war.
Let's look at the al-Qaida connection. The evidence of Mohamed Atta's having met with an Iraqi agent is too tenuous for that to be a casus belli. Now we're hearing that top al-Qaida men are in northern Iraq. But even if they are, it can't be proven they're being hosted by Saddam. And the timing of the claim is suspect.
Finally, we must ask why the Bush Administration really wants this war. One purpose is punitive: they want to crush Saddam because he dared to assert his nation's sovereignty and resist the overly harsh terms imposed on him after the Gulf War. They hope to intimidate other states in the region.
But a war they think they can win outright may also be a ploy to divert attention from policy failures and possible wrongdoing. All our bombing of Afghanistan hasn't defeated al-Qaida; they're regrouping and shopping for anti-aircraft guns. Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and Mullah Omar are still out there. The U.S. military is attacking wedding parties and ignoring Northern Alliance war crimes. And we now know that at least three 9/11 hijackers were known terrorists who should have been under surveillance.
Please don't let Mr. Bush and his advisors lead us into another war. They have their hands full botching the one we already have.