Recently, I remembered that we’d passed the tenth anniversary of the Iraq war. I was reminded by an open letter that appeared in Harper’s magazine, written by Andrew J. Bacevich to, Paul Wolfowitz, one of the war’s chief architects. (“A Letter to Paul Wolfowitz” by Andrew J. Bacevich, Harper’s 3/13m pgs. 48-49) Bacevich worked with Wolfowitz at one time and his tone is respectful but the letter expressed his regret for one policy carried out by the George W. Bush administration: the doctrine of preemptive war.
Like most Americans, I was shocked when President Bush announced he was taking the country in a new direction, convinced that our position as a world leader dictated that we accept preemptive war as a necessary requirement for our nation’s safety. I found the statement similar to one ascribed to Britain’s Prime Minister, Lloyd George, during World War I: that it was a war to end wars. But in the case of the Bush/Wolfowitz’s doctrine, no longer would we wait for a hostile action against us, we would strike if we sensed hostility was imminent. (Ibid. Pg. 49) In this case, the notion of justice was similar to that in the film Minority Report where an individual could be arrested for a crime before it is committed in order to prevent the crime.
With the passing of the sad anniversary of the Iraq war, I hope our leaders will resist the temptation to revive the notion of preemptive war. There are those in the world who would like to see it revived, as in the case of Iran’s growing nuclear capability. But there are no good wars, preemptive or otherwise, only impoverished victors and thousands if not hundreds of thousands of innocent victims.
I have lived through many wars, few of which, looking back, seemed necessary. Having shed countless tears for them, I have no wish to do the same for anticipatory ones, the Iraq war being a prime example. Historians, biographers and novelists are already busy chronicling centuries of violence in our quest for peace and safety. Peace and safety aren’t always good traveling companions, nor are justice and safety. What I do know is that war is a foolish path to follow to reach a peaceful objective.
(The War to End Wars Courtesy of en.wikipedia.org)