View Full Version : Unasked Questions?

09-30-02, 05:53 AM
Unasked Questions

By William Raspberry

Monday, September 30, 2002; Page A19

Larry Williams, a retired Marine colonel now teaching at George Washington University, has a few questions he'd like to ask his commander in chief. They aren't smart-aleck questions -- this is a serious military man, whose service included stints in Vietnam and Lebanon.

And though his questions may seem obvious, I think you'll be struck by how few of them the president has answered -- perhaps, as Williams says, even for himself. Here they are, abridged from his recent open letter to President Bush and elaborated in an interview:

What is the actual threat to the United States -- the purpose of war?

Chemical and biological weapons, Williams argues, are not weapons of mass destruction. "They are very inefficient and unpredictable and hard to use effectively. Casualty-producing, yes, but not on a large scale."

Says Williams: "Even if the Iraqis make a nuclear device -- which also concerns me -- what would they do with it? The Mideast region is not alarmed. Why are we -- thousands of miles away -- alarmed to the degree of war?"

How many American lives will we expend to punish Saddam Hussein?

Baghdad has nearly 5 million residents. It is reasonable to expect that many would see America not as a liberator but as an invader -- and that many of these would see our military as at least as great a threat as Hussein. "If," says the professor, "one million of them resist an American invasion in street-to-street resistance -- under a local threat of chemical and/or biological weapons -- how many Americans will die?"

How long will public support last when hundreds, possibly thousands, of body bags start arriving home?

"Desert Storm and Afghanistan make war look so easy, with so few casualties. When support at home wanes, how will you turn back the clock?"

How, militarily, do you plan to fight this war?

The Army is too "heavy" to get there short of a Desert Storm-style buildup. Air power and advanced technology get you little in the fight to conquer cities.

How many Iraqi citizens do you plan to kill in order to bestow democracy?

"You can't level cities by bombing, as in World War II. When newspapers and TV broadcasts around the world start to show pictures of Iraqi mothers carrying babies dead from U.S. bombs -- pictures real or staged, it doesn't matter -- the world will be inflamed in anti-American sentiment, and U.S. public support will dissolve."

How will you govern a defeated Iraq?

"Of course, a military victory is as assured as it was at the outset of Desert Storm. But then, how will you govern a country probably still resisting through guerrilla activity and in which we do not speak the language? Will your military forces be confined to cantonments at night because they do not control the streets of Baghdad?"

How does the war against Iraq contribute to winning the war against terrorism?

"The origin of the attacks of 9/11 and the preceding chain of attacks against the embassy in Beirut and the Marine barracks in 1983 and other embassies thereafter were in the Arab/Muslim world. Victory in the war against terrorism must necessarily be found in that worldwide presence. How does alienating every facet of that world contribute to victory in the current war on terrorism?"

Williams, a career Marine who insists that his thoughts are his and not to be linked to George Washington University, says he learned in Beirut and South Vietnam that his government didn't always have better information than he had -- not because officials lied but because critical details were filtered out as communiques made their way up the chain of command. "That experience," he said, "convinced me that the most senior leadership does not always have the best counsel."

He then offers Bush his own bit of counsel: "As president and commander in chief, you clearly have it in your power to move a reluctant nation toward war. But if war is too important to be left to generals, it is also too fraught with unforeseeable catastrophe to be left to the personal whim of one man. Please, sir, ask yourself my questions -- and make certain you have the answers right."

2002 The Washington Post Company

09-30-02, 06:54 AM
IF such a forum could be created, I would love to watch a point by point debate between Colonel Williams and one of the President's top advisors.

I believe that the President, the Nation, our Allies, and the rest of the world MUST be made aware of the upside, AND the downside of actions taken or not taken.

I agree with the Colonel that some decisions should not be made by the whims of one man. To assist in making major decisions, both the proponents AND the opponents should be heard.

Once the final decision is made, it is FINAL, and all MUST support it. However, support is more graciouly given if one feels that his opposition was considered before the decision was made.

Recent history (Vietnam, for one) has shown us that when the President is given faulty, unchallenged information, decisions are made which are regretted later.

I thank Col. WIlliams for bringing his points to the President's attention, and Gunnyg for bringing them to my/our attention.

Semper Fi

09-30-02, 09:27 AM
From: "george b. clark"


| This is Spam | Add to Address Book
To: Undisclosed-Recipient@,

Date: Mon, 30 Sep 2002 10:19:40 -0400

We all have views on the problems with Iraq. We know that Sen. Ted Kennedy has come o

ut agin bagging Saddam. However, Howie Carr, a Boston newspaper columnist. suggests that Ted Kennedy give Saddam a ride in his Oldsmobile. That outta settle the entire problem quite quickly with minimum disruption. As Carr sez, "more people have died riding in that Olds than have been killed by Saddam's weapons."
Just a thought.

George Clark