The Star Ledger printed this piece on Friday, February 7th. Since that time, I've received several responses from people who disagree vehemently with me. To date, I haven't seen any letters published in response to this op-ed piece. However, they are bound to come. If you are so moved, please send a letter to the editor of the Star Ledger (at ) in support of the opinions expressed here. Letters can contain a maximum of 200 words. Many thanks!
Administration can't justify the cost of war
By Madelyn Hoffman
The Pentagon reports that should we invade Iraq, it plans to unleash twice the number of missiles on Baghdad in the first 48 hours (an operation dubbed "Shock and Awe") than were used during the entire Gulf War in 1991. This bombardment would leave a devastated and demolished Baghdad. Thousands of civilian lives would be in jeopardy, if not lost.
The administration cannot justify this. Nothing Colin Powell said at the United Nations or any place else can explain how such destruction makes the world any safer or solves any international problem. The nation must think twice about the consequences of such an action and not simply accept the increasingly strident calls for war.
If the issue is weapons of mass destruction, the answer is disarmament, not attack. The CIA admits that if Saddam Hussein does possess weapons of mass destruction, he will use them if he is backed into a corner, with nothing to lose, Iraqi civilians and U.S. troops will be the first to witness this.
President Bush stated a willingness to use nuclear weapons against Iraq -- a dangerous and provocative move and one that blurs the line betwen nuclear and conventional weapons. Undoubtedly, disarmament is essential not only for Iraq but for the entire Middle East and the world. Rather than execute a foreign policy that provokes development and use of nuclear weapons, the United States must lead the way to eventually eliminating such weapons.
As for the issue of regime change, we have to look very carefully at the long-term ramifications of our foreign policy. Pre-emptive strikes to achieve that goal or any other are violations of international law. We would set a precedent allowing any other country in the world to declare war against another on a suspicion that it is ready to attack. Do we really want to do that?
North Korea admits to having nuclear weapons, but we are using diplomacy to deal with this case. The good news is that it seems to be working. Could it be that war is not an option because North Korea has no oil?
In addition to the tremendous human costs, it is estimated that the expense of fighting a war would be $9 billion a month. The total cost could range from $200 billion to $1 trillion -- particularly if the United States creates a provisional government in Iraq to establish control over that country's oil fields. So, while the military would be wreaking havoc on Baghdad, the money drain would be devastating at home.
More than 60 cities throughout the United States have recognized this problem and passed resolutions opposing war on Iraq on economic and humanitarian grounds. Jersey City was the first New Jersey town to pass a resolution, with Newark not far behind. Now Bloomfield, Fort Lee, Hamilton, Lawrenceville, Maplewood, Montclair, Paterson and Teaneck are considering doing the same. (Since the time this was published, Paterson did pass an anti-war resolution!!)
Bush's foreign policy, one based on the domination of the world's resources and continued use of nuclear weapons, is no foreign policy at all. It leaves the country vulnerable to anger and resentment throughout the world. America's power could crumble from overextending its reach.
Amid all the talk of war has been just a brief mention of energy efficiency and conservation and the desirability of reducing our dependence on oil, either foreign or domestic. Wouldn't rapid development of an alternative fuel give us a cleaner and less expensive energy source?
The anti-war movement incorporates all these ideas. Bush's State of the Union address and Powell's presentation to the U.N. remind us how important our work is.
Madelyn Hoffman is director of NJ Peace Action, one of 35 groups involved in the New Jersey Coalition Against War in Iraq. She can be reached at .