June 6, 2003
President George W. Bush, Jr.
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, D.C. 20500
Re: The Smoking Gun
Dear Mr. President,
I hope you do not mind if I address you personally. I believe that your presidency cultivates the personality of the leader instead of the rationality of its government, therefore I believe a personal address is called for.
That being said, you are well aware of the current scandal over your Weapons of Mass Destruction Justification to wage a pre-emptive war on Iraq contrary to the will of the international community. According to a recent poll, over eighty percent of the American people believe that you and the CIA lied about the knowledge of those weapons, or that the CIA is incompetent and simply misinformed you. Nevertheless, since the war was relatively painless and since the quick victory enormously enhanced the power-prestige of the United States, the people are with you. The nationalist folk believe the truth is moot and leave it to ideologists to debate on the jingo cable networks, where the outcome will be in your favor since they pander to angry white American males.
In any case, the majority opinion is irrelevant as far as you are concerned, for your pre-emptive war was initiated contrary to the popular will of the people at the time, that the war should not be waged without the consent of the international community. Yet you proceeded to ignore the world; and you said, pursuant to your aristocratic, authoritarian philosophy of government, that your ignorance was for the world's own good. Hence it appears that you have adopted the pre-emptive rationale of such power-state personages as Frederick the Great, Otto von Bismarck, Kaiser Wilhelm II, and Adolf Hitler; an imperial rationale contrary to the Western Enlightenment and to the international league ideals of Immanuel Kant and Woodrow Wilson.
Mr. President, the charge made against you, that of lying, is a most serious one because of your position. I was convinced that President Clinton had lied to the American people. Whether the lies were under oath or not, or were about a relatively trivial matter, was of no consequence to me: I believed that, if the President would lie about a fling, then he would lie about anything - I remembered President Johnson's costly lie. Therefore, although I was disgusted by the self-righteous, smug hypocrites gunning for President Clinton, I believed that he should have been convicted by the high court of impeachment, and I thought the conduct of the Senate and the servility of the presiding judge was a national disgrace.
And now you stand accused of lying about a much more serious matter. An angry cable-television "news" host just this morning said: "This charge is serious. How dare anyone accuse the President of the United States of lying without evidence?"
Good question. But more to the point, How could someone be convicted and condemned to death without concrete evidence, without a smoking gun? And that is what you did to Iraq, in the name of Weapons of Mass Destruction; which, as one of your ideologues publicly admitted, was the issue pulled out of the hat for public-relations purposes. It was felt the public would go for the PR strategy. And it it did: and once the killing started, even most pacifists were patriotically for the killing. And now that a victory is in hand, people are not about to say it is wrong, for a United States victory is always righteous regardless of the causes of war. As a retired general declared on CNN, "The issue is beyond questions of good and evil."
Now it appears that the victory was without honor. For the very basis of the democracy that you sometimes refer to, the democracy that you would violently impose on unfree people who are, as you say, jealous of our freedom, is that people are innocent until proven guilty. For instance, it is dishonorable to demolish a country and destroy its government, then poke around in the ruble for the evidence.
So in my mind the important question is not whether you lied or not, but whether or not this great nation of ours is a democracy capable of leading the world by its good example, by acting democratically, as a good citizen of the world community.
As you know, President Roosevelt knew an attack by Japan was imminent, yet he declined to make a pre-emptive strike, saying, in effect, "We cannot do that. This is a democracy. So far we have a good record." It could have been better. Now it is much worse: we do not need a clear link of an attack or positive evidence at all - suspicion alone suffices for destroying sovereign nations.
At the personal level, this goes directly to the issue of hypocrisy, and whether or not you, Mr. President, are personally a hypocrite. For it appears that your personal view of democracy is too good for the rest of the world, even though you have publicly stated that it is good enough to impose on the world immorally and undemocratically - without a trial and without proof of guilt.
What have you done, Mr. President? In my opinion, you have condemned and destroyed Iraq on a trumped-up charge; which was, by the admission of one of your top officials, a public-relations gimmick. After all, if weapons of mass destruction had been the central issue, you would have made a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, where the evidence was glaring. Whether or not weapons of mass destruction existed or not was a peripheral issue. As perhaps it should be, for if an overwhelming force attacked my country to destroy its state, I would use every weapon of mass destruction at my disposal; I would take no prisoners; I would behead the invaders and display their heads on my television station. The issue is whether or not we stand on a higher moral ground; and if we do, we certainly should apply our higher principles to those on lower terrain. For example, a person or sovereign state is not guilty of a crime against our state until proven guilty. In any case, there must be clear and convincing evidence of guilt.
Now you have terrified Iraqis and devastated Iraq with shocking and awesome precision weapons. Mature journalists on the ground remark that Baghdad reminds them of bombed-out Hanoi. What preceded was not so precise: a million people had already been murdered by war on all sides and by sanctions, and that just to get the head hit man and his gangsters, whom the United States, personally Ronald Reagan and your father, had been instrumental in bringing into power in the first place. The sanctions were continued for years, primarily at the behest of the United States, when everyone concerned knew they were hurting innocent people and benefiting one man, the very man they were supposed to destroy. Now many more people are going to die and suffer as a result of your condemnation of and destruction, without concrete evidence, of the sovereign state of Iraq.
The unwitting American people revel now in victory, not understanding that your personal victory is a greater danger to their welfare than terrorism. I do not revel in it, Mr. President. I am ashamed of it. Speaking more personally, I am very ashamed of your behavior, and I am not ashamed to say so. I fear for the future of the world and this great nation of ours.
I suppose that, if evidence is not available, you will use national security as an excuse to withhold what is not available. But of course you hope to find evidence after the fact, and perhaps you will find some, but such a discovery would not mitigate the fact that you have turned the United States into an outlaw nation. Indeed, because of the personal manner in which you have conducted foreign policy, to get, as you said, the man who tried to kill your daddy, the discovery of those weapons would now serve to reinforce and aggravate the arrogance of a country that should be heeding the advice of Solomon: "Do not trust to your riches for success in war."
Now if I have misjudged you or the situation, please do not hesitate to contact me to discuss the matter.
David Arthur Walters