Jack Of All Trades: War in Iraq unjust, short-sighted

Patriotism does not require blind allegiance.

Protesters at Ball State and others working to avoid war in Iraq have legitimate concerns about whether armed conflict would serve U.S. interests, and their voices ought to be heard.

War is a horrible evil. It does damage to both sides, no matter who wins. It perverts morality and human nature by making murder a virtue. Americans have an innate understanding of how devastating war is and an inborn desire to avoid sending their children overseas to kill other human beings.

A Gallup poll conducted Dec. 9-10 indicates that most Americans think the United States should wait for proof of Iraqi wrongdoing to invade. This immense preference for peace is why past presidents, including Bush senior, have gone through so much effort to convince Americans that the wars they support are just.

Preemptive war in Iraq would not be just, according to a letter sent to Bush by 60 major Christian organizations. Bush's own United Methodist Church was one of the participants.

Perhaps that is why Bush has spent much less time than his predecessors trying to show that his war is virtuous, and instead has tried to make it appear inevitable.

War in Iraq has no just cause. Neither America nor our allies have been attacked, and there is no evidence that an attack is coming. Retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni, former head of Central Command, told the Chicago Tribune on Oct. 11 that Hussein could be contained without war.

Invasion to topple Saddam would be the first time in modern American history that we began a conflict. No one denies that Hussein is a potential danger to his people and his neighbors, but he always has been, and we used to be his ally anyway. By itself, potential danger that can be contained by diplomacy is not enough to justify violence.

Our true motivation is oil, just as it has been in the past. After Sept. 11, the administration was stunned by the amount of Saudi involvement in the terrorist attacks. Our supposed allies can no longer be trusted. Bush refuses to aggressively pursue alternative energy technologies, so we need a new source of oil. Who better than Iraq, under a friendlier leader whom we wouldn't have to sanction, to be that source? This is clearly not a just cause.

It seems clear that the end result of war in Iraq would not justify the violence used to achieve it. An attempt to remove Hussein from power militarily would dramatically expand the traditional and moral requirements for war, possibly causing the United States trouble in the long run. It could destabilize Iraq's already scruffy neighborhood as other Arabs felt pressured to defend their neighbor. Even worse, it could provoke Hussein to use whatever weapons he can before he is killed, and would create another generation of young Arabs angry at America's Congratulations.

Meanwhile, the United States will have neglected to focus on rebuilding Afghanistan, finding the remaining al-Qaida leaders, and containing North Korea's present nuclear capability.

Our actions will have consequences for every other nation on earth, which is why the United Nations is the appropriate venue to decide Iraq's fate. The sanctions and weapons inspections are working. Patriots will stand up and tell Bush to stop obsessing over his father's war and let them work.

Write to Stephen at stevehj@mac.com