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What the war is and is not about

10/10/02 12:00AM By Madeleine M. Kunin
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(Host) Commentator Madeleine Kunin reflects on the debate about war with Iraq.

(Kunin) As the drumbeat for war with Iraq gets louder, let us clarify what this debate is about. This debate is not about whether Sadaam Hussein is a dangerous man and poses a threat to the Middle East and to the United States. Sadaam Hussein is a dangerous man. We agree. This debate is not about whether or not we care about national security. Those of us opposed to invading Iraq care about national security. We do. This debate is not about whether we are patriotic Americans. We are.

What this debate is about is whether war is the best recourse at this time, before the weapons inspectors return, before we have used up all the diplomatic options, before we can go hand in hand with our allies, with the United Nations. What this debate is about is whether the drumbeat for war serves to silence the voices that are worried about their jobs, their futures, their health care and their clean air and water. What this debate is about is whether the sparks that fly from our invasion of Iraq will ignite other parts of the world and cause a dangerous escalation of violence that runs out of control. What this debate is about is whether the United States is prepared to deal with a post war Iraq, which may or may not be democratic, having no history of democracy. And finally, what this debate about war with Iraq is about, is death and destruction, body bags and civilian casualties.

We suspect what this debate is about, is the coming election. A war president is a popular president. He is our leader in a crisis. We want to and tend to trust his protection. This makes it difficult, if not impossible to oppose him or his party.

We suspect what this debate is also about is the flow of oil, which does not justify the flow of blood. What we need at this point, is not less debate and more silence, but less silence and more voices. We are at a critical point in our decision making. We cannot simply march to the drumbeat of war. We must slow down the tempo, and ask, why? Why alone? And why now?

This is Madeleine May Kunin.

Madeleine Kunin is a former governor of Vermont.
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