How Would You Like To Be President Right Now?

By: Robert E. Meyer

How would you like to be the president of the U.S. right now? No matter what he does, he is wrong by default. He has to deal with the opposition, not merely of thoughtful critics, but ideologues and third-world bullies gone mad. Remember a year ago when Pat Robertson suggested that Chavez should be “taken out?” His fellow fundamentalists tripped over each other, rushing off to distance themselves from his comments. Of course when Chavez addresses the U.N., calling the president a devil, he gets thunderously applauded. And this is the body we are supposed to trust with establishing a reasonable and civil world order? Left to my own designs, I say that we not only get America out of the U.N., but we also get the U.N. out of America. We have one vote and pay for 22 percent of the U.N. costs–I think that sort of makes up for the disproportionate amount of energy those critics of this country’s say we use.

I think about the some of the arguments made about the president. The line about how he “cherry-picked” intelligence has been spewed endlessly. How common is the use of that particular term that so many pundits would have all thought to apply it on their own initiative? The last time I heard that phraseology before it was applied to Bush came from a telephone solicitor who wanted to sell me numismatic coins some 15 years ago. She said that the Morgan silver dollars were “cherry-picked” from a lot of already outstanding coins. The spiel worked back then also.

If Bush actually did “cherry-pick” intelligence, what is wrong with his doing so considering the gravity of the situation? Suppose I go to a specialist because of recurring stomach pain along with other unpleasant symptoms. He tells me I have a cancer which requires an immediate operation to save my life. Now I seek a second opinion. The second physician tells me that I have a minor stomach disorder that will rectify itself. He recommends Mylanta for the discomfort. I seek a third examination to break the tie. The third diagnosis is similar to the second one. After considering my plight, I opt for the first doctor’s course of treatment. Now did I cherry-pick among diagnoses? Of course I did, but considering what was at stake if the consensus was wrong, it was a reasonable choice. I believe that the same risk analysis, in principle, should properly be applied to Bush’s decisions about WMD’s and consequently invading Iraq.

Standing in the shadow of 9-11, Bush’s decision to invade Iraq seemed quite reasonable. He even spent over a year trying to get Congress and the U.N. both on board. 9-11 may not have been perpetrated by Saddam, but it made the strategy of containment obsolete, since terrorists had gone on the offensive. That is the most fundamental linkage.

Does anyone really want to fight a war needlessly? Citizens of the U.S. have more to lose than virtually any other country. Many young people serving in the armed forces will be cut down before they can even get a start in life. Dreams go up in smoke and sorrow, with so much to live for left unrequited.

I was in the last few months of my enlistment in the army, when I heard about the aborted mission to free the embassy hostages in Iran. I thought a war would erupt. Rumors abounded that discharges would be frozen. I didn’t go into the army thinking about what I could do for my country but, rather, what it could do for me. I am glad some young people have higher ideals today than I did in 1980. War is an ugly evil, but all too often, a necessary evil.

A local peace activist had a message on his radio’s commentary, Fox Cities Viewpoint, during September. He stated that Sept.11th, 2006, was the centennial anniversary of Gandhi’s peaceful resistance against the British in India. He applied that example anecdotally toward the War on Terrorism/Iraq, suggesting we ought to consider a solution of non-violence. But he forgets that the British had a Christian cultural heritage that would have been sympathetic, or at least cooperative, to non-violent activism for establishing civility and social justice. Would that appeal have stopped Stalin’s purges? Will that appeal work with radical Islam? The chances are slim and none.

The problem with blank-check pacifists is that they have no contingency plan if their idealistic solutions fail to quell the murderous intentions of the opponent in question. One may embellish their front yard with placards brandishing slogans, such as, “War is not the answer,” but as a friend notes, that depends on what the question is. No matter the nature of the enemy, the solution remains the same–let’s sit down with them and find out why they are mad at us. If that doesn’t work, we’ll sit down to find out why they are mad at us. And if that still fails, let’s sit down and talk about why they are mad at us. So we solve the issue the same way as would two formerly friendly neighbors, who have suddenly become bitter over a property line dispute–our ideological differences notwithstanding.

My own idea is that we could send a group of these people over to Iraq to talk with leaders of the terrorist elements. After all, it takes two to tango–don’t they likewise need to be convinced that war is not the answer?

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