Ambassador Edward L. Peck's March 18 presentation, entitled "Reconsidering Our Middle East Policy," drew a standing-room-only audience at Georgetown University's Center for Contemporary Arab Studies.
Pulling no punches, Peck opened his briefing by noting, "I think the American nation is making a severe mistake." That mistake was Washington's drive toward undeclared war with Iraq.
The ambassador spoke from experience-having served as a paratrooper in the U.S. Army, U.S. chief of mission to Iraq in the 1980s, in various diplomatic posts in Morocco, Tunisia, Egypt and Mauritania, and as State Department coordinator of covert intelligence programs and as deputy director of the cabinet task force on terrorism at the White House under President Ronald Reagan.
Since retiring from his diplomatic career, Ambassador Peck has served as executive secretary of the American Academy of Diplomacy, chairman of political tradecraft programs at the National Foreign Affairs Training Center, and as a lecturer and consultant to various organizations in the United States and abroad. He is currently a Woodrow Wilson Visiting Fellow and a Distinguished Visitor at the National War College.
Poignantly, Ambassador Peck noted that in order to resolve Iraq's supposed unwillingness to comply with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1441, as well as to bring democracy to Iraq, Washington planned to ignore the United Nations and the will of the American people.
Clearly, he asserted, U.S. policy presents the observer with an oxymoron: by attempting to achieve its goal of war with Iraq, the United States was prepared to violate the very principles it purports to uphold by waging that war.
After the planes crashed into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001, Ambassador Peck said, public support for President George W. Bush surged. This newly gained support, premised on rallying around the leader in time of war, allowed the cabal of "cretins" surrounding the president to argue more forcefully for their beliefs, Peck said.
The reasons for rapidly launching war against Iraq, without valid proof that the U.N. weapons-inspecting regimen is not working, while alienating such key international players as France, Russia, and Germany, he added, have never been clearly fleshed out to the American public.
What remains, Peck said, is the suspicion that, despite desperate attempts to manufacture a reason for going to war (such as the purported existence of so-called "weapons of mass destruction," the aggressiveness of the Iraqi regime, lack of democracy, as well as unproved linkages with the shadowy al-Qaeda group), the war is unjust-and, moreover, unnecessary. …