2/17/2003

 

What if we win?

 

What if we win? Suppose itís the morning after and weíve overrun Iraq. Suppose the steam goes out of terrorist threats toward us, maybe because Israel makes peace with a nation of Palestine, or other changes that cool things off in the Middle East. What if we find we didnít need all this internal spy agency and compromised rights, but are stuck with them as unnecessary leftovers of our period of fear?

 

What if we succeed without war? Suppose the inspectors start finding the dangerous materials and the overflights discover movements that we intercept and we can account for and destroy it all. Suppose the on-going presence of foreign powers in Iraq, and careful monitoring of what they import, makes it impossible for Hussein to do anyone any serious harm, and his days look numbered because of growing internal opposition. What if we have to face the uncomfortable realization that the peaceful methods that we tried to stop, worked? That we shouldnít have rushed so headlong toward war, been so doubtful of even giving other methods the time they need? So doubtful despite our own history of always finding a way, that we didnít think we could neutralize Iraq without the many high costs of war?

 

What if we find there was no serious threat? Suppose we overrun Iraq and scour the country for all those dangerous materials (so whoever comes next canít use them) but we find theyíre not there. We just find small amounts of failed attempts to make weapons that didnít work because the sanctions had kept the necessary materials out, and because all those unaccounted for materials reported in the 90ís had degraded and werenít really useful anymore. What if we sacrifice many of our soldiers and many Iraqi citizens, and establish a new precedent of initiating war, only to find there wasnít much of a threat?

 

What if we win, but we find the compromises we made of our own principles have made us less of a nation?

 

We have to fight terrorism. Letís do it in ways that make us proud.

 

Letís show the terrorists and their sympathizers that we donít have to compromise our principles and our rights in order to stand firm for our freedom and safety. On the contrary, it is fighting from atop the foundation of our principles and rights that makes us strong and gives us what we need to come through this intact, and proud of how we did it.

 

If we should have to go to war letís approach it in a way that shows the world that we value peace and innocent human life and did everything in our power to try to avoid it, and only resorted to war when we were truly left with no other reasonable choice. Then we can look back on the business when itís done and know there was nothing else we could do, and that we are still a people who stand for peace.

 

Years from now how are we, and our children, going to look back on how we handled this challenge? That we did the job, but paid too high a price in our principles? I believe weíre better than that. That we can ensure our safety, be an example to the world of freedom and rights, and not compromise who we are. We can do itÖif. If we make the right choices now.