Paul Findley, a Member of Congress for 22 years, is the author of They Dare to Speak Out: People and Institutions Confront Israel's Lobby and chairman emeritus of the Council for the National Interest. He writes books and articles from his home in Jacksonville, IL and lectures widely on international affairs.
During my long life, America has surmounted many severe challenges. As a teenager, I experienced the Great Depression. In World War II, I saw war close-up as a Navy Seabee. As a country newspaper editor, I watched the Korean War from afar. As a Member of Congress, I agonized through the Vietnam War from start to finish. During these challenges I never for a moment worried about America's ultimate survival with its great principles and ideals still intact.
Today, for the first time, I worry deeply about America's future. We are in a deep hole. I believe President George W. Bush's decision to initiate war on Iraq will be the greatest and most costly blunder in American history. He has set America on the wrong course.
I must speak out. As best I can, I must bestir those who will listen to the grave damage already done to our nation, and warn of still greater harm if Bush continues his present course during a second term in the White House.
When terrorists assaulted America on 9/11, killing nearly 3,000 innocent civilians, President Bush responded, not by focusing on bringing to justice the criminals who were responsible, but by initiating a war against impoverished, defenseless Afghanistan, a broad attack that killed at least 3,000 innocent people. Even before the dust settled in Afghanistan, the president initiated another war, this one on Iraq--a war planned long before 9/11.
In the name of national security, the president has brought about fundamental, revolutionary changes that threaten our nation's moorings.
At home and abroad, he has undercut time-honored principles of the rule of law.
Abroad, he has made war a ready instrument of presidential policy instead of reserving it as a last resort should peril confront our nation.
In public documents, he claims the personal authority to make war any time and any place he alone chooses, and the authority to use force to keep unfriendly nations from increasing their own military strength.
His power is unprecedented. He directs a military budget greater than all other nations' combined. At his instant, personal command is more military power than any nation in all recorded history ever before possessed.
He proclaims America the global policeman, and for that role he has already expanded a worldwide system of U.S. military bases. Four new ones are in place in Iraq and four others near the Caspian Sea.
He orders the development and production of a new generation of nuclear arms for U.S. use only, meanwhile threatening other nations--Iran and North Korea, for example--against acquiring any of its own.
Unleashing America's mighty sword, he brings about regime changes in Afghanistan and Iraq, but mires our forces in quagmires from which escape seems unlikely for many years.
He isolates America from common undertakings with time-tested allies. He trivializes the United Nations and violates its charter.
The president offers wars without end, and the Congress shouts its approval. But his use of America's vast arsenal is so reckless that he is regarded widely as the most dangerous man in the world.
Here at home, in his frantic quest for terrorists, he stoops to bigoted measures based on race and national origin, tramples on civil liberties, and spreads fear and disbelief throughout the land. Those of Middle Eastern ancestry, and many others, buckle under government-inflicted humiliations and abuses with trepidation, sorrow and resentment.
Frustrated by Iraqi dissidents who protest the occupation of their country by killing U.S. troops almost daily, the president reverts to war measures. He orders heavy aerial bombing in wide areas of the countryside. …