Push For Peace, Not War With Iraq

Trent D. Pendley - The Times of N.W. Indiana - November 18, 2002

Last summer, I overheard a comment from one of the guys of the regular men's groups that meets for breakfast in Crown Point's Main Street Café: "Well, they say elect a Democrat and you will have a war."

I thought to myself at the time, this guy must be in denial that the last Republican president we had got us into our last one, the Persian Gulf War. I suppose the denial continues as yet another Republican president, also another Bush, and also during another recession with millions out of work, out of money from falling markets and out of health insurance, threats of losing residences over inability to meet mortgage payments, chooses to go to war with Iraq once again.

I was amazed that both the Senate and the House consented to George Bush's war call. I hadn't lobbied against such ludicrous behavior, but certainly I will now before the body bags of our young kids begin to come home.

The people of Iraq deserve better leadership, but then so do we. The last war against Iraq was so distant, and little did we know of the devastation. Remember, we got to see only state-of-the art bombs hitting their targets and what looked like an expensive Independence Day display of fireworks in the skies above Baghdad. What happened to the people of the Middle East and the devastation they suffered really wasn't that available for us to know because of the media blackouts during the war. Even my English cousin's letters from Saudi Arabia, where his skills for British Aerospace as a retired Royal Air Force squadron leader were in demand, ceased to arrive during the heat of the battle.

A friend in Jerusalem, Bob Werman, a neurologist from Bloomington, Ind., who had emigrated to Israel in 1968 and took a position at the Hebrew University, published his diary "Notes From a Sealed Room," which told me how haunting was the daily threat of Scud missiles. Friends from Baghdad have told me of the windows in their palatial homes crashing while their parents argued whether to get the family into the bomb shelter while planes hovered above. They also have much more chilling and ghastly sobering stories of their neighbors, innocents like themselves whose homes took direct hits.

In conversation recently my friends from Baghdad, who in a sense are Westerners who have found refuge here in America, tell me if Saddam Hussein had any weapons of mass destruction, he would have used them already. They know this man. They have had the dubious honor of having Saddam walk into their home unannounced, and they also hate him, but they also don't believe President Bush's motives for yet another war. Neither do I.

They remind me that the first President Bush and Reagan, too, knew of the chemical weapons and other dangerous materials flowing into Iraq. I tell them I know this too. Jonathan Pollard, a South Bend man about my age, in a sense blew the whistle on the last couple of Republicans who had turned their heads the other way while these dangerous materials fell into the hands of a Saddam they knew was using them to kill thousands of folks who didn't fit into his plan of diversity within Iraq. Pollard rots in a Butner N.C. prison for having given the information to the Israelis. Ironically, the Israelis, armed with the information they were entitled to by treaty, but denied by our military who thought the Jews were too jumpy over chemical and gas weapons, were the ones who earlier blew up the Iraqi nuclear power plant that would have armed Saddam Hussein with nuclear capabilities. (J4JP: Israel used the information that Jonathan provided to revamp their entire civil defense program, switching from bomb shelters to sealed rooms and preparing gas masks and chemical antidotes for the nation well in advance of the Gulf War.)

Pollard, in my mind is something of a hero. How many lives did he save? Certainly, his naughty trade saved American military kids, too, because his partners in crime disarmed Iraq while our leaders in Washington ignored Saddam's genocide and the flow of weapons that filtered with their consent into the madman's arsenal. ABC's Ted Koppel says this is why they threw the book at another Hoosier kid Pollard - because in a sense he embarrassed the Republicans in the White House.

Rather than going to war, let's free the White House of these Republicans and others bent on war. Release Pollard from his life sentence and do more than pray for peace. Go out and vote for peace.

Trent D. Pendley is a writer and an advocate for social justice. He has served as the social action chairman of Temple Israel in Gary and is the public relations counsel to American Dream Realty in Crown Point.

  • See Also: The U.S.-Iraq Complicity Page