Coming out of (a) closet
Okay, I'm going to come clean. I voted for Bush in 2000. (In Illinois, so it didn't matter anyway.) I regret this with every fiber of my being. To understand why I did this, you must understand how much I despised Clinton's foreign policy. To this end, I present a blast from my distant past, my University of Chicago admissions essay, circa fall 1996. (Please excuse the unvarnished nonviolent idealism. I was only 17!)
I have been left dumbfounded by our government's latest scuffle with "Saddam," as well as the public response of the American public. After the deaths of five Iraqis in our recent cruise missile attack, some are unsatisfied. Critics say we've been soft on Mr. Hussein, and would consequently propose that our military launch an all-out, unprovoked war upon Iraq and its people. As other world leaders attempt to employ diplomatic means of dealing with this complex issue before resorting to violence, our military has prepared to launch one of the largest ad hominem attacks in history. It's no wonder that Martin Luther King, Jr. called our government "the greatest purveyor of violence in the world."
Though the oft-repeated myth is that our actions will "punish" Mr. Hussein personally, persuading him to fly right, the truth is that we're going to kill a few thousand more innocent Iraqis. It's not even clear to me how Hussein would be bothered by having a few of his people killed; he seems to have very little concern for them anyway. Even if we were successful, the ousting of Hussein could instigate a bloody civil war in which millions could die. The next leader to come to power could be just as brutal.
Our media is eating it up. In this Dispatch article alone, I find the Iraqi dictator referred to seven times as "Saddam." Now, I wouldn't say that this man deserves much respect, but I doubt you'll ever hear other world leaders referred to as "Bill" or "Boris." You also won't hear many dissenting opinions in the press, including those of average Americans like me who are confused and frustrated with the actions of our government and our military. Just as it did during the Gulf War, the media is turning state-sanctioned murder into a game. It repeats the half-truths and distortions emanating from Washington, which are designed to lull the American public into acquiescence. Each story parrots the "punishment" myth, and most fail to delve into the crucial complexities of the Kurdish situation.
I personally harbor the belief that all men are brothers. I believe that the cost of our international involvements should be measured in human lives, not just American lives. I believe that the killing of five Iraqis by our military does no more to solve this problem than would the killing of five Americans. Even if one does not agree with this principle, there are plenty of other problems with our policy.
In July, Iran incurred upon Iraq in support of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan. This spurred the takeover by Iraqi forces of Irbil last month. We certainly did not launch a battery of cruise missiles at Iran. How do we justify this uneven treatment? In addition, the U.S. cannot justify our support of the PUK by virtue of its moral superiority. Both the PUK and the Kurdish Democratic Party have committed arbitrary political killings against each other, while causing hundreds of casualties among innocent civilians; this according to Amnesty International. Furthermore, by supporting either Kurdish faction, we effectively support their aim of the creation of an independent Kurdistan, whose boundaries would encroach upon the borders of several existing countries. I wonder what Turkey, Syria, Armenia and Azerbaijan would think.
Briscoe, David (AP). "Iraq puts Clinton in quandary." The Columbus Dispatch, September 15, 1996, page 1A.
I wrote it eight years ago. I wouldn't write it exactly the same way now. But it explains why I was fed up with Clinton.