Integrity concern

Published 12:00 am Thursday, April 29, 2004

The men and women of the U.S. armed forces are honorable, valorous, and doing their duty to defend the nation.

However, I have serious concerns about the leadership that determined our nation was at risk from Iraq.

Certainly Saddam was a brutal dictator – just like a few dozen others in the world are – but our stated reasons for sending our troops to war was to sever the evil ties to terrorism and eliminate weapons of mass destruction.

Over a year after our crushing defeat of the Iraqi regime, the evidence for weapons of mass destruction has been disproven and, it turns out, was untrustworthy well before we went to war.

The evidence for a tie between Iraq and the terrorists that attacked this nation on Sept. 11, 2001 has never been produced. By nearly all experts before the war began, this evidence was discounted and not one shred of evidence for that link has been produced since the invasion.

Let’s face it, there was no tie between al Queda and Saddam because he was an infidel and a heathen in their eyes. And if biological and chemical weapons existed in such quantities as the US government said they did as justification for going to war, our troops would have stumbled over them long before now.

I don’t like to say anything like what I’m about to say because I want to believe that our President is an honorable man, but there comes a time when the truth must be told.

Like Bill Clinton before him, President George W. Bush is a liar.

I was outraged when Clinton wagged his finger at me and declared that he never had sexual relations &uot;with that woman.&uot; His private sexual life is a matter that interested me not a whit before that moment. His escapades and dalliances are private matters between him and his wife.

His lying to me, and every other American citizen, was unforgivable.

Bush has lied about why we went to war with Iraq and he continues to lie to this day. I used to think he might actually believe that stuff, but there’s no way he can be that gullible.

So now we’re finding out that all his buddies in the business world are getting the lucrative contracts for cleaning up Iraq and have already had to pay much of the money they made back. These companies got the contracts before the war began and there was no competitive bidding process. And they ripped the taxpayers of this country off and they have cheated the Iraqi people.

I used to think that Bush believed what he said and that he really thought Iraq was a threat to the peace and security of the United States; that there was no way he would send our brave, honorable soldiers to fight in a war for oil profits.

I was na¨ve. I underestimated the duplicity of the Bush administration and the raw greed driving it.

At the expense of ordinary Americans – you know, the much-vaunted middle class that is fast becoming a thing of the past – Bush, Cheney and the rest are rewarding their friends in the business world.

The troops that fought the war will return to the states with barely livable salaries and with a significant proportion of them having to apply for food stamps and other assistance programs to make ends meet.

The executives of the companies that have been awarded these unfairly disbursed contracts will rake in billions over the long haul – and there will be a long haul. There is no way the United States is going to be out of Iraq in a couple of years.

The danger of regime change is that what follows might be far worse than what was ousted.

Does anyone remember what happened to the other westernized Arab nation – a nation that had close ties to the United States? Let me refresh your memory, the Shah was overthrown by a radical mob of fundamentalist Muslims that made his repression and brutality look like a warm spring day. Oh, and it created a staunch enemy that really does support terrorism against Americans. Remember Iran?

The only thing that will keep anti-American fundamentalist Muslims from taking control in Iraq is the presence of the United States military. We’ll be there for a while to prevent this from happening. And so that some friends of the Bush administration can make a pile of money.

I don’t want to be so cynical. I would like to think we alienated our allies and waged war in Iraq for noble reasons. Unfortunately for those lovely dreams of a perfect world, I base my opinions on facts and observation rather than naivet\u00E9 and blind loyalty to an office I’d like to see returned to a person who puts integrity and concern for the American people above politics and profit. (Then again, I guess that’s pretty na¨ve of me.)