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Page 13
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Quit Making More Combat Veterans

By Robert M. Bowman

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Statement by Robert M. Bowman
March for Peace
Melbourne, Florida
February 15, 2003

I'm here representing Veterans For Peace, an organization of thousands of combat veterans. All of us have put our lives on the line for this country. And all of us are opposed to a war with Iraq.

Saddam Hussein is a bad guy. I don't know anyone who disagrees with that. He's a bad guy now. He was a bad guy in 1990 when April Glaspie of the State Department gave him the green light to invade Kuwait. He was a bad guy in the 1980s when Donald Rumsfeld sat down with him for a chat while he was gassing the Kurds. He was a bad guy in 1977 when Zbigniew Brzezinski met with him and proposed the invasion of Iran. And he was a bad guy in the 1960s when the CIA hired him to assassinate Iraqi leader Abdel Karim Qassim and then helped him take over Iraq. He's always been a bad guy. But he was always our bad guy. Right up to 1990, official DoD documents praised Saddam for vastly improving the education, medical care, and standard of living of his people. His regime was called one of the most enlightened, progressive governments in the region — and it was.

But there was a problem. The Berlin Wall had come down and the Soviet Union had collapsed. The first Bush White House had to find another bad guy — fast. And they did: Saddam Hussein. They suckered him into attacking Kuwait, and the first Gulf War was on.

This was the war the first Bush administration wanted, the war they planned for, the war they instigated, the war they salivated over, the war that Saddam's unconditional withdrawal wasn't going to deny them, the war that would show off our smart bombs better than a hundred trade shows, the war that would prove George wasn't a wimp, the war that would make billions for the future president George W. Bush (who had exclusive rights to offshore oil in the Gulf), the war that would kill the "loser" image from Vietnam once and for all.

Now the second President Bush wants his Gulf War too. Planning for it started long before 9/11, even before he became president. In September 1990, his advisers set "regime change" in Iraq as a primary objective of US foreign policy should Bush become president. They made it clear that the purpose of moving against Saddam is to set the stage for occupying the entire Middle East (and therefore controlling its oil, no matter who's in power, especially in Saudi Arabia).

The problems with starting a preemptive war against Iraq are several: (1) It would be immoral and would probably be judged illegal by the World Court. (2) It would be costly, in terms of American lives and in dollars. (3) It would require us to keep troops in Iraq indefinitely. (4) It would fracture NATO, split the United Nations, and come between us and our allies. (5) It would incense the Arab world, probably causing the downfall of friendly governments who cooperate with us (like Saudi Arabia and Turkey). (6) It would provide Osama bin Laden with thousands of new recruits ready to die in a holy war against Americans. (7) It would therefore cause an enormous increase in the terrorist threat to Americans at home and abroad. It might even cause World War III. It would destroy our national security and further endanger the American people.

As a combat veteran, I will not stand idly by and watch our security be destroyed by a president who went AWOL rather than fight in Vietnam. I say "NO" to war against Iraq.

As one who has devoted his life to the security of this country, I will not stand by and watch an appointed president send our sons and daughters around the world to kill Arabs so the oil companies can sell the oil under their sand, making us the target of terrorists. I say "NO" to war against Iraq.

I joined the Air Force to protect our borders and our people, not the financial interests of Folgers, Chiquita Banana, and Exxon. I say "NO" to war against Iraq.

As a pilot who flew 101 combat missions in Vietnam, I can tell you that the best thing our government can do for its combat veterans is to quit making more of them. I say "NO" to war against Iraq.

Peace is patriotic; a preemptive war is immoral, illegal, unconstitutional and a war crime. I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States against all enemies — foreign and domestic. That includes a renegade president. If this war happens, I will call for the impeachment of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and the whole oil mafia. I say "NO" to war against Iraq.

We are the people. We are sovereign. The whole world is with us. And we say "NO!" "NO" to war! "NO" to preemptive war. "NO" to wars of aggression. "NO" to war against Iraq. "NO!" "NO!" "NO!"

This war would be treason! PEACE is patriotic. God bless America! And God save us from George W. Bush! Thank you!

Dr. Robert M. Bowman (Lt. Col., USAF, ret.) is president of the Institute for Space and Security Studies, presiding archbishop of the United Catholic Church, and a national advisor for Veterans For Peace.

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