Last week, I commended Republican senator Lisa Murkowski for her willingness to listen to critics of the continued occupation of Iraq. This week I offer the written statement I submitted. I doubt it will change any minds here, but feel free to use as much of it as you like in letters to your Congressional delegation as we gear up for a war against Iran, which I believe we'll see next March if the Iraq pattern holds. If "preventive war" is not to become an American tradition, we must stop it here.
Now my statement:
Dear Senator Murkowski:
Thank you for coming to Juneau to listen to constituents' concerns about Iraq in person. This is something I hope you will do in Anchorage, Fairbanks and any other communities you feel appropriate. I also hope that you can encourage Sen. Stevens and Rep. Young to come listen in person as well. While such meetings are not a scientific barometer of opinion, they send a powerful message that you care about your voters and allows you to see which side has the highest passion and level of commitment to their cause.
Today I want to write you not about the heavy costs of the Iraq war in blood and treasure nor suggest a withdrawal timetable to you. Instead I want to urge you to refuse to endorse any more "preventive wars." You should refuse the next war on the basis of the threefold failure of the "preventive war" in Iraq. In the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, the President and Administration officials offered three main goals that invading Iraq would fulfill: 1) Prevent the transfer of WMD to terrorist groups; 2) Reduce terrorism worldwide by eliminating one of its sponsors; and 3) Intimidate North Korea and Iran into abandoning their nuclear weapons programs. As I outline below, the Administration has failed in each of these three aims.
The Administration failed to prevent the transfer of WMD to terror groups â€“ Whether or not you believe that Iraq had pre-2003 stockpiles of chemical, biological and nuclear weapons, the Administration did not prevent their transfer out of Iraq. If you believe as I do and as the Iraq Survey Group concluded that there were no stockpiled weapons, there were no weapons to transfer, and the invasion was a waste of resources. If you believe the Weekly Standard that stockpiles of weapons were transferred out of the country, then the invasion failed to prevent this from happening. What we can positively conclude from the number of soldiers killed and wounded by IEDs is that the invasion of Iraq did transfer tons of conventional explosives into the hands of terrorists and some has probably left Iraq in the intervening years. So instead of denying terrorists unconventional weapons, our invasion of Iraq provided regional groups with a conventional armory.
The Administration has not reduced global terror, in fact global terror is up nearly three times over 2001. - According to the Terrorism Knowledge Base (a href="http://www.tkb.org">http://www.tkb.org ) graphing analysis tool, the number of worldwide terrorism incidents since 2001 have been â€“ 2001 â€“ 1733 attacks, 2002 â€“ 2649 attacks, 2003 â€“ 1898 attacks, 2004 â€“ 2646 attacks, 2005 â€“ 4924 attacks. 2005's figure of 4924 is 2.8 times the number of incidents that took place in 2001. Considering that the trend is upward and that the world hasn't seen a year "as peaceful" as 2001, seems to suggest the futility of "preventive war" as a anti-terrorism measure. If the trend was definitely downward, I could withhold judgment, but given the costs in blood and treasure, we are paying far too high a price for what appears to be an ineffective solution.
Far from being intimidated, both Iran and North Korea have continued, if not accelerated their march towards nuclear weapons. - The public record shows that the Administration clearly felt the invasion of Iraq would be an "object lesson" for Iran and North Korea. By showing our resolve in Iraq, North Korea and Iran would be terrified into giving up their nuclear programs. Instead, I think developments have clearly shown that they instead took the logical lesson that the United States only attacks non-nuclear powers. As a result, North Korea now maintains it has at least some nuclear bombs and Iran is proceeding with nuclear enrichment in defiance of the West. As object lesson to change countries nuclear behavior, I believe that Iraq has been an objective failure.
As a fellow Catholic, you are likely familiar enough with the moral case against "preventive war" made by Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI, as well as the US Catholic Bishops, so I won't repeat it again for you. But I hope that the paragraphs above will let you consider that there is a pragmatic case against "preventive war." If our stated aims with the Iraq War failed so badly, what possible assurance can this or any other Administration offer that launching a first strike against another nation will guarantee better results?