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For The Record

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with heavy heart

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For the record, so I can't plausibly dissociate myself from my opinions...

I oppose the Bush Administration's ultimatum and initiation of the war against Iraq at this time and in this manner.

My reasoning is in the form of a dilemma: If Iraq is both an urgent and grave danger to the United States, we have the right and duty to strike without delay and unilaterally; if this was the case in October 2002, attacks on Iraqi chem/bio/nuke sites and delivery systems should have been initiated as immediately as even barely possible (a matter of days, perhaps weeks at most).

Since Iraq's chem/bio/nuke weapons were not deemed an immediate and grave threat, we (the United States, in our representative, elected gov't) took up the grave but not immediate threat as a matter of international security and international law, with reference to the cease-fire conditions for chem/bio/nuke disarmament imposed by the United Nations on Iraq. This yielded initial results in the resumption of the inspections regime halted since 1998. Continued deception and concealment, however, plagued the efforts to verify Irsq's claims of disarmament. At this point, diplomatic steps were taken, including sabre-rattling, and entirely correctly.

Failure followed, however, as we failed to demonstrate the resolve to follow through with what we had initiated: a resumption of weapons inspections which, undoubtedly, would expose Iraq's weapons and deceit of the United Nations - if - inspections were backed not only by sabre-rattling and military threat, but by the will to break Iraq's ability and will to resist them. The U. S. failure to follow through and stay the course, however, fragmented international support for the inspections and allowed Iraq diplomatic room to subvert the process both on the ground, and in international discussion. I believe this was a fundamental fuckup on the part of the President (and his advisors).

The correct, fully ethical course of action before the United States at the start of this year was to fully back inspections, with threat of force, and with a unified diplomatic effort, including openness to proposals on alternative methods for conducting or expanding the inspections. Given the fairly wide array of misbehavior by the Iraqi gov't thus far, in the face of a very weakly backed inspections team, inspections continued determinedly, aggressively, and visibly, would have either uncovered irrefutable evidence of the chem/bio weapons I am firmly convinced Iraq possesses and is willing to use, or forced Iraq to clearly and undeniably interfere with inspectors (as we saw throughout the 1990s) to keep concealment. This would allow the United States, in the context of international diplomacy and law, to build the consensus and coalition to permanently disarm Iraq. I believe the world could have drawn this conclusion, given a forcefully supported inspections process, in a matter of mere months. This would have given us the moral authority to act on behalf of the international comunity.

Instead, we have failed miserably for quite some time to create this moral auhthority, and I therefore think it wholly unethical of the United States to act without it.

Some of you may have noticed I do not question our authority to act unilaterally under some circumstances, nor do I argue that war, as such, is wrong. I oppose the President's decision largely on procedural grounds -- due process should be honored, not even, but especially in matters of such gravity as war, the use of State-backed violence. I think of myself in analogy to a judge ordering a retrial for a bloody-handed crook on the basis of an error in the arraignment.

So that's my story, and now you can make me stick to it. If I change my mind, I'll have to justify it, to myself, if no one else until the Judgment Day.

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