Tuesday, October 5, 2004

A letter to Bush from a soldier's dad

Your voice: Lucian Bernard

Dear Mr. President,

As the father of a soldier serving in Baghdad, I have a few questions about "staying the course" in Iraq. When my son was born in 1984, President Reagan was providing Iraq with weapons and intelligence in its war with Iran. Weren't they our friends and allies back then? In the first Gulf War, Vice President Cheney, who was your dad's secretary of defense, was the biggest defender of your father's decision not to invade Iraq, arguing that removing Saddam from power and getting "bogged down in the problems of trying to take over and govern Iraq" wasn't worth the loss of U.S. lives. What changed the vice president's mind?

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You may criticize Sen. Kerry's "internationalist" approach to Iraq, but your dad's most impressive achievement during his presidency was the skill and diplomacy with which he assembled a broad coalition of nations, with United Nations support, for removing Saddam from Kuwait. Much of the cost of that war was shared with our allies. The world was largely with us. Where is that coalition today?

Since you declared an end to major combat operations last year, it seems like we have been steadily losing the peace in Iraq, as well as support around the world. There are far more terrorists there now than before you invaded Iraq.

Today, it seems clear to everyone except you and the vice president (and your re-election campaign) that Iraq had nothing to do with the people who attacked us on 9/11, the day my son Mike signed his enlistment papers. There was no connection with Osama bin Laden, no nuclear weapons, no imminent threat to the United States. We had combat aircraft in the skies patrolling Iraq every day, ready to instantly respond to any threat.

For the last three years, your administration has been telling us that bin Laden and the people who were responsible for attacking us have been holed up in the mountains between Pakistan and Afghanistan. So why did you deploy 140,000 troops a thousand miles away in Iraq?

"Staying the course" has created another Vietnam. The only difference is one was in the jungle, the other in the desert. Whether we are there due to faulty intelligence or deliberate deception isn't even important anymore. Both explanations represent a gross failure of leadership. And by the way, Mr. President, tell your defense secretary, DonaldRumsfeld, that nobody threw flowers at Mike when he got to Iraq. Just bullets, mortars and improvised explosive devices.


Lucian Bernard is a lawyer who practices in Covington

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