have for years advocated a moral and constitutional approach to our
foreign policy. This has been done in the sincerest belief that a policy
of peace, trade, and friendship with all nations is far superior in
all respects to a policy of war, protectionism, and confrontation. But
in the Congress I find, with regards to foreign affairs, no interest
in following the precepts of the Constitution and the advice of our
Interventionism, internationalism, inflationism, protectionism, jingoism,
and bellicosity are much more popular in our nation’s capital than a
policy of restraint.
I have heard all the arguments on why we must immediately invade and
occupy Iraq and have observed that there are only a few hardy souls
left in the Congress who are trying to stop this needless, senseless,
and dangerous war. They have adequately refuted every one of the excuses
for this war of aggression; but, obviously, either no one listens, or
the unspoken motives for this invasion silence those tempted to dissent.
But the tragic and most irresponsible excuse for the war rhetoric is
now emerging in the political discourse. We now hear rumblings that
the vote is all about politics, the November elections, and the control
of the U.S. Congress, that is, the main concern is political power.
Can one imagine delaying the declaration of war against Japan after
Pearl Harbor for political reasons? Or can one imagine forcing a vote
on the issue of war before an election for political gain? Can anyone
believe there are those who would foment war rhetoric for political
gain at the expense of those who are called to fight and might even
die if the war does not go as planned?
I do not want to believe it is possible, but rumors are rampant that
looking weak on the war issue is considered to be unpatriotic and a
risky political position to take before the November elections. Taking
pleasure in the fact that this might place many politicians in a difficult
position is a sobering thought indeed.
There is a bit of irony over all of this political posturing on a vote
to condone a war of aggression and force some Members into a tough vote.
Guess what, contrary to conventional wisdom, war is never politically
beneficial to the politicians who promote it. Presidents Wilson and
Roosevelt were reelected by promising to stay out of war. Remember,
the party in power during the Korean War was routed in 1952 by a general
who promised to stop the bloodshed. Vietnam, which started with overwhelming
support and hype and jingoistic fervor, ended President Johnson’s political
career in disgrace and humiliation. The most significant blight on the
short term of President Kennedy was his effort at regime change in Cuba
and the fate he met at the Bay of Pigs. Even Persian Gulf War I, thought
at the time to be a tremendous victory, with its aftermath still lingering,
did not serve President Bush, Sr.’s reelection efforts in 1992.
War is not politically beneficial for two reasons: innocent people die,
and the economy is always damaged. These two things, after the dust
settles from the hype and the propaganda, always make the people unhappy.
The euphoria associated with the dreams of grandiose and painless victories
is replaced by the stark reality of death, destruction, and economic
pain. Instead of euphoria, we end up with heartache as we did after
the Bay of Pigs, Korea, Vietnam, Somalia, and Lebanon.
Since no one wants to hear anymore of morality and constitutionality
and justice, possibly some will listen to the politics of war, since
that is what drives so many. A token victory at the polls this fall
by using a vote on the war as a lever will be to little avail. It may
not even work in the short run. Surely, history shows that war is never
a winner, especially when the people who have to pay, fight, and die
for it come to realize that the war was not even necessary and had nothing
to do with national security or fighting for freedom, but was promoted
by special interests who stood to gain from taking over a sovereign
Peace is always superior to war; it is also a political winner.