November 8, 2002
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President,
I urge you to exercise great restraint in your intent to wage war on Iraq. A preemptive invasion without having thoroughly exhausted every diplomatic means possible would have horrific consequences.
In fact, a U.S.-lead war against Iraq, even if we did exhaust diplomacy, and even if Saddam does pose a real threat to America, would be hard to justify to the world and would surely have a profound backlash.
I am a loyal Republication and am highly appreciative of how you have been leading your administration, particularly in response to the terrorist attack on 9/11.
However, I have been greatly distressed about your intent to attack Iraq. I am certainly not a pacifist. Sometimes the use of military force is necessary. I commend your use of it this past year in Afghanistan to combat the Taliban and al Qaeda. But in the current situation, I am fraught with anxiety over the possibility of war with Iraq.
Saddam Hussein is a lying, corrupt despot who is bent on evil and who cannot be trusted. He has oppressed the people of Iraq and is responsible for atrocious loss of thousands of lives. He certainly would love to use weapons of mass destruction on the U.S. And we have to expect that he will thwart these new rounds of weapons inspections as much as possible short of unleashing war upon himself. But I urge you to contend for diplomacy to work in spite of his bristling and posturing. Be tough but not so rigid that it triggers a war needlessly. We have to hope that Saddam's passion to stay in power will deter him from committing unthinkable atrocities against his neighbors or the U.S.
Please, Mr. President, step back and allow the will of the majority of the American people to prevail. Being a strong leader does not mean being militant. As much as we hate Saddam, we absolutely must not be seen by the world as an arrogant, self-absorbed nation bent on forcing our agenda on the rest of the international community. And as long as going to war appears that it is driven by motives such as domestic political gain, oil, and finishing undone business from the Gulf War, any war on Iraq will be suspicious in the eyes of the world and the of the American people.
You say you will only use military force as a last resort. But your rhetoric suggests that you intend to go to war regardless of world opinion or the results of any efforts in diplomacy. You've made the conditions of the resolutions on Iraq so tough that you seem to be guaranteeing Saddam's failure to comply. It appears that you are only doing the diplomatic stuff to placate the critics, but that you intend to destroy Saddam regardless.
If you are truly sincere in cooperating with the UN and allowing the diplomatic processes to work, then stop the military buildup in the region. Stand down. Take your finger off the trigger! As long as the U.S military machine is being amassed against Iraq, why should anyone believe that you truly want to avoid war?
Bombing Iraq will cost billions of dollars (80 to 100 billion!), kill thousands of innocent people, obligate America to post-war reconstruction and security, severally damage the fabric of international cooperation, prompt rouge nations to pursue their suppressed aggressions, foster greater hatred toward America among Arab and Islamic peoples, and risk destabilization of the Middle East.
The majority of Americans and the peoples of the world do not believe an invasion of Iraq is justified. I've read your Cincinnati speech of October 7, and the evidence is certainly compelling that Saddam posses a serious and eminent threat to America. But unless you can convince the masses of Muslims around the would, a war on Iraq will be perceived as a war on Islam.
Please, learn the lesson of the Gulf War. Osama bin Laden turned to terrorism because of his indignation over the U.S. using bases in his beloved Saudi Arabia to wage war against his follow Islamic nation. Another U.S.-lead war against Iraq--especially one which will be perceived by the world as unjustified--will surely instigate more terrorism against Americans everywhere.
And as for the Iraqi people, it's terrible that they have to suffer under a repressive regime of a murderous tyrant. But is bombing Iraq really the answer? If their plight is so horrible, why doesn't their Islamic neighbors come to their rescue? If you have concern for the people of Iraq, why not lift the economic sanctions that target Iraqi citizens?
Saddam Hussein certainly poses a threat to America. But invading Iraq has great risks that may far outweigh any threat Saddam poses. His evil intents need to curbed, but sending American forces to do battle at this time posses great jeopardy to America's standing around the world.
Please, Mr. President, I urge you to be confident in and supportive of the UN weapons inspectors. Trust diplomacy to work. Exercise every iota of restraint and international cooperation. Believe that regime change in Iraq will not have to come at the hand of American forces. Going to war will have terrible consequences. I entreat you to pray continually for God's help, wisdom, and guidance. Resist trusting in our military might. May your presidency leave a legacy of greatness through diplomacy and peace.