Another Editorial Sent To The Wayward Washington Post On March 15, 2003 (Sophisticated Or Naive...You Make The Call)
It's a crucial time in American history. The incompetent, scandalous and crooked are becoming the norm. The latest incident involving the forgery of the Niger nuclear documents is a telling case-in-point. Confronted with this development, a key component of our case for war against Iraq, all we get from our leaders and these documents' former champions is a shrug. Oh well, we passed it along in "good faith". We are not incompetent, or criminal, it just managed to "slip through". Forget about it. And we couldn't have been responsible for it, because our people are competent, talented professionals who surely would have done a better job of forging these documents. And so on...
Only this information is, and was, unforgettably important. We expressed it at the highest levels of our power apparatus, as a justification for a very expensive, in both human lives and material cost, war against Iraq. A war in which we've articulated our possible use of weapons of mass destruction, nuclear and chemical, as a "defensive" measure "should it come to that". A war which has divided the world, invited enemies and derision, and which we have initiated. The people of Iraq, and Saddam Hussein himself, have not asked us to go to war with them. Mysteriously, it's not a priority for them.
Even more mysteriously, it's seemingly become our overriding purpose as a nation. You can't go anywhere and not hear about it. On TV, on the radio, in the newspaper, the non-stop onslaught of coverage of this possible war against a weakened tyrant and people is constantly in play. Forced to give an opinion by the pollsters, fastly becoming more tiresome and meddling in popular culture than the tax collector, Americans indicate a preference for action. An illusion. Most people don't know the facts, don't really care one way or the other, and would surely rather quit hearing about it. You'd think the mind-numbing coverage and escalating gas prices would have assured overwhelming support for war by now, just so we can "get on with our lives", but it hasn't. Most mysteriously of all, masses are gathering in the streets, not answering the call of obedience, irrationality and war, but demanding peace, rationality and sanity. The herd! Acting with compassion and reason, demanding information before consent! The elites must be trembling in their slippers...
Meanwhile, our young American men and women are strapping on their combat boots and chem-warfare suits, preparing to engage in a war of which they can't possibly be passionate about. Why do I say this? There's a difference in what you hear, and what you know. And only the most clueless of the clueless would believe we're sacrificing human lives for the cause of the common Iraqi. For his freedom. Or hers. So anyone who's looking for reasons, to engage their reason, to determine the right thing to do, the moral course of action, will find nothing but ideology and fiction, speculation and threats, forgeries and plagiarism emanating from our most competent war orators. The mere presence of a plagiarized, decade-old student thesis, and the aforementioned Niger document forgery, as key references for our case is more telling than anything else. The plagiarized student claiming to have been able to give more updated information if he had been consulted only adds insult to injury.
This war is a fraud. Essential questions have not been answered. Who is going to die, and why? Will our fighting men and women kill with certainty, or with doubts? When does being a patriot mean defending freedom, and when does it mean being a fool? We don't know. So to the perpetrators of this absurdity the American people should issue one last ultimatum. Stand down, or face the shame of a nation.
Alas, Leonard Downie must find me very naive.