Wednesday 14 May 2003

Don't Applaud Questionable Motives

by Helen Thomas

Should critics of the U.S. attack on Iraq hang their heads now that the United States has won the second Persian Gulf War?

Absolutely not!

People who opposed the attack on Iraq never had any doubt that the United States -- the world's lone military superpower -- would roll over a pitiful Third World country. That wasn't the point.

Instead, it was a question of why should the U.S. military kill thousands of innocent Iraqis, maim thousands more and ruin their country to take out one man. All of that, for questionable U.S. motives.

Under its historic principles and treaty commitments, the United States does not invade sovereign countries, unless it is attacked. That was the old way of looking at our national values, pre-Iraq.

Americans who disagreed with the Bush policy were guided by their consciences. They saw an unprovoked war as simply wrong, as judged by our national traditions and values, including the Golden Rule: "Do unto others. ..." etc.

Administration officials told the American people that we faced a direct and imminent threat from Iraq. Who believed that?

We dropped tons of bombs on Iraq but many of the victims were civilians. The much-touted Iraqi Republican Guard disappeared without putting up much of a fight. The U.S. military's invasion force romped in what has been likened to an elephant stomping on a gnat.

We will never know how many Iraqis perished and nobody in the administration seems interested in finding out. "We don't track that," a Pentagon spokesman said.

Of course, no one is unhappy that the "shock-and-awe" campaign is over and that it was relatively brief and successful. Success doesn't make it right for those who don't necessarily agree with the late Vince Lombardi that "winning isn't everything, it's the only thing."

The war is far from over for the Iraqis. They are grieving over family losses and trying to cope with the presence of yet another occupier after having lived past centuries under other "liberators" -- not to mention a ruthless dictator.

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