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From: Joanne Stepaniak (
Subject: The Consequences of Mr. Bush's War
Date: March 28, 2003 at 3:53 pm PST

The consequences of Mr. Bush's war
Americans will come to realize that, win or lose, the U.S. president is
wrong to launch an attack against Iraq.

Mario Cuomo
Citizen Special

Tuesday, March 18, 2003

NEW YORK - President George W. Bush points out that the only reason
inspectors are making some progress in Iraq is because of the show of
force by the United States and its allies. That's probably true. But
it's also true that as long as the United Nations inspectors are making
progress, there is no immediate need for war.

That is clearly the majority view in the UN and beyond. If President
Bush decides to ignore it by starting a pre-emptive war against Iraq,
where will it leave the United States spiritually, economically and

According to the president, we will have a short and successful war
that will kill or maim innocent Iraqi civilians and some innocent
American soldiers -- but not enough of them to stop the people of
Baghdad from cheering the removal of Saddam Hussein and the promise of
a democracy to replace him. At the same time, we will have made
ourselves safer from terrorism at home. We will also be richer at home;
stock markets will rise instantly, and together with the help of
billions of dollars of still more tax cuts for our investor taxpayers,
that will stimulate a strong economic recovery.

The president's people say his poll ratings will also soar, led by the
enthusiastic rejoicing of God-fearing conservatives who believed all
along that Mr. Bush was right and the Pope was wrong when they differed
over whether the war against Iraq would be a just war.

With a victory in Iraq bolstering the president's self-confidence, he
will then presumably turn his steely gaze on the rest of the axis of
evil -- North Korea and Iran -- and decide whether to continue his
aggressive and pre-emptive attempts to make the United States the
planet's democratic but holy hegemon. The United Nations would be less
of an impediment to this effort because our repudiation of it over Iraq
will have caused it to wither into little more than a global grant
agency and political debating society.

On the other hand, if the president's calculations and designs are
incorrect, the United States will launch a war that could kill many
times more innocent people than Sept. 11 did, and will be left with the
huge burden of building a new democracy out of the tangle of hostile
groups ready to destroy one another as soon as the tyrant Saddam is
removed. That's precisely what Mr. Bush earlier condemned as wasteful
and dangerous "nation building," a description that seems apt in view
of our faltering efforts in Afghanistan.

The United States will also have lost the support of many of the allies
we counted on in 1991, and have inflamed the hate of our enemies in the
Muslim world, virtually assuring an increase in acts of terrorism
against us.

After a quick euphoric surge in stock markets, the expenditures of
hundreds of billions of dollars on the war, the attempted
reconstruction of Iraq and more tax cuts will worsen what are already
the greatest national deficits and debts in American history. That will
exacerbate the already crushing burdens on our state and local
governments, debilitating further public health care, education, law
enforcement and environmental protection.

And what of his political future if President Bush's war becomes his
proudest boast in 2004? I think he will face the same fate Winston
Churchill did in 1945, and his father did in 1992.

The majority of the United Nations and world opinion comes closer to
the truth than does the president, and by November 2004, that will be
clear to a majority of the American voters. After the music of the
victory parades fade, the nation will reflect upon the sober truth of
the war. Americans will remember the death and destruction, the
debilitated economy, the increased terrorism, the deteriorated world
unity and the ugly irony of a nation which says it is too poor to
provide its people the health care, education and old-age security they
need, but rich enough to fight wars, reconstruct other nations and give
its wealthiest taxpayers huge tax cuts. Why then, would Americans want
to vote for more of the same?

Mario Cuomo served as governor of New York from 1982 to 1994.

He is with the law firm of Willkie Farr & Gallagher.

Reprinted from La Republica.

The Iraq Dilemma

© Copyright 2003 The Ottawa Citizen

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