“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” – Dwight David Eisenhower, April 16, 1953.

AUSTIN, Texas – The news is not good. Osama bin Laden wants us to invade Iraq. We’re at orange on the alert code. The economy is tanking. We’re spending $1.08 billion a day on the military.

The president wants a $674 billion tax cut. To pay for that, he wants to raise the rent on subsidized housing for the poorest people in the country and break up Head Start, sending it down to the states, where governments are frantically cutting everything they can. Money to pay for everything from cleaning up Superfund sites to leaving no child behind is being slashed to pay for this obscene tax cut.

We’re about to got to war with a country that hasn’t fired a shot at us or anyone else. Our war plan calls for us to “shock and awe” Iraq by smashing 800 cruise missiles into Baghdad in the first 48 hours of the war. That’s one every four minutes night and day. According to Harlan Ullman, the “defense intellectual” who advocates the “shock and awe” tactic, it’s supposed to work like the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. That worked, all right.

During the last Gulf War, we killed 13,000 civilians directly and another 70,000 died in the aftermath from no water, no food, no electricity, no medical care, etc. I’d like to get rid of Saddam Hussein myself, but how many lives is it worth? And do they get to vote on it?

Meanwhile, Al Qaeda – the people who attacked us to begin with – are still running around getting ready to deliver “packages.” North Korea is busy building nukes. Our allies all think we’re wrong, even if their governments have been strong-armed into supporting us. When all your friends think you’re about to do something stupid, it might be wise to listen to them.

What passes for diplomacy in this administration is stunning. What in the name of heaven are we doing allowing people like Richard Perle to speak for us? According to UPI, Perle – chairman of the Pentagon’s Policy Advisory Board — said Tuesday, “France is no longer an ally of the United States, and the NATO alliance ‘must develop a strategy to contain our erstwhile ally or we will not be talking about a NATO alliance.”‘ Do these people know nothing about how dialogue is conducted among civilized nations? Couldn’t they at least read “How to Win Friends and Influence People”?

I have news for Mr. Perle. Our allies have democratically elected governments. Their people overwhelmingly oppose this war. What do we expect their governments to do? The antiwar sentiment ranges from 47 percent and rising in Britain (a full 81 percent now agree that a new U.N. mandate is essential before a military attack is launched), putting our friend Tony Blair in electoral peril, to 88 percent against the whole idea in Turkey, where the new government has been literally bribed into going along with us. Who knows what future reckoning it faces at the polls?

If 88 percent of Americans were opposed to this war, do you really think we’d be doing it? Would you want us to? Perle also referred to Germany’s Gerhard Schroeder as “a discredited chancellor.” The ever-tactless Donald Rumsfeld managed to lump Germany with Cuba and Libya. We don’t have enough enemies that we have go around insulting our friends?

We sound just as bellicose and arrogant as the anti-American faction in Europe accuses us of being.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing last week revealed that plans for a post-Saddam Iraq are virtually nonexistent. “Who will rule Iraq and how?” asked Sen. Richard Lugar. “Who will provide security? How long might U.S. troops conceivably remain? Will the United Nations have a role? Who will manage Iraq’s oil resource? Unless the administration can answer these questions in detail, the anxiety of Arab and European governments, as well as that of the American public, over our ‘staying power’ will only grow.” The Defense Department has been moving troops to the Middle East for months, but it opened an office of postwar planning only three weeks ago.

And for a final piece of bad news to complete your day, the antiwar movement has disgraced itself by refusing to allow Michael Lerner, the editor of the intelligent (and very liberal) Jewish magazine Tikkun, to speak at a San Francisco peace rally. Lerner was blackballed by the most left-wing of the four sponsoring peace groups, something called ANSWER, for being “pro-Israel.”

I am completely disgusted. Why should there be any ideological litmus test for being antiwar? Why isn’t the peace movement looking for as broad a coalition as possible? This seems to be the season for stupidity.

Molly Ivins is a syndicated columnist.


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