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Some Nagging Questions

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Some things have been bugging me about President Bush’s efforts to plunge us into full-scale war against Iraq:

If Saddam Hussein’s program to develop weapons of mass destruction is so secret, how did Mr. Bush get aerial photos of all those large above-ground buildings that allegedly house Iraq’s nuclear program? Why isn’t Saddam afraid that those expensive facilities could easily be reduced to splinters by Israel or the United States?

Is Mr. Bush preparing to forcibly thwart the secessionist movements that his attack on Iraq might stimulate? In his speech in Cincinnati the other night, he promised to rebuild “a unified Iraq” after the war. But many Iraqis don’t want a unified Iraq. The administration has assured Turkey, which fears that the Iraqi Kurds will secede and invite the Turkish Kurds to do the same, that the United States will hold Iraq together. Could the United States end up suppressing rebellious Kurds and Shiites who no longer wish to be part of Iraq?

When and how did Iraq graduate from being merely a member of the Axis of Evil (with Iran and North Korea) in January to being “unique” in October? In his Cincinnati speech Mr. Bush said, “Iraq is unique,” but offered no explanation for the change in status.

Why is Iraq’s activation of radar and anti-aircraft weapons in the U.S.-declared no-fly zones considered threatening and provocative, but flying U.S. warplanes and dropping bombs over sovereign Iraqi territory is not?

If U.S. war planners are counting on Hussein to rationally abstain from using chemical and biological weapons for fear of the consequences during the coming war, why don’t they count on him to do so without a war?

Why was it wrong for Iraq allegedly to wiretap the UN weapons inspectors, but not wrong for the United States to load the inspection teams with spies?

Was Rep. Tom Lantos (D-Calif.) relaying an administration position when he assured an Israeli politician that the United States will install a “pro-Western dictator” in Iraq after the war?

On a related subject, did anyone notice that when an audiotape of someone claiming to be Osama bin Laden was released recently, all the discussion was about whether it was really bin Laden? No one cared about what the voice actually said. That is curious because it said, in part, “That’s why I tell you, as God is my witness, whether America increases or reduces tensions, we will surely answer back in the same manner….” To my ears, this sounds as though this person is saying that if the United States quit harming Arabs, he’ll quit trying to harm Americans. That’s a far cry from his wanting to destroy us because we are free, rich, and democratic. Maybe my interpretation is wrong, but why isn’t the statement worthy of discussion? The voice also said to the American people, “I’m inviting you to understand the message of my attack against New York and D.C., which came as an answer to your crimes. Evil brings evil.” Again, this seems to mean that the attacks had nothing to do with our way of life. It’s also an acknowledgment that the attacks on 9/11 were “evil.” Why didn’t that rate some attention? Because it conflicts with the official story?

When Mr. Bush said the congressional resolution he seeks “does not mean that military action is imminent or unavoidable,” did he realize he was confessing that it violates the Constitution, which delegates the war-declaring power exclusively to Congress?

When the administration released the new Bush doctrine calling for preemptive war and U.S. global domination, did the president’s handlers mean to let the curtain be pulled aside so far? Or did they assume we wouldn’t notice because we’re as dumb as they think we are?

Can all of those who voted for Bush because of his promise of a “humble” foreign policy get their votes back?

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    Sheldon Richman is vice president of The Future of Freedom Foundation and editor of FFF's monthly journal, Future of Freedom. For 15 years he was editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York. He is the author of FFF's award-winning book Separating School & State: How to Liberate America's Families; Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax; and Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State. Calling for the abolition, not the reform, of public schooling. Separating School & State has become a landmark book in both libertarian and educational circles. In his column in the Financial Times, Michael Prowse wrote: "I recommend a subversive tract, Separating School & State by Sheldon Richman of the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank... . I also think that Mr. Richman is right to fear that state education undermines personal responsibility..." Sheldon's articles on economic policy, education, civil liberties, American history, foreign policy, and the Middle East have appeared in the Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, American Scholar, Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Washington Times, The American Conservative, Insight, Cato Policy Report, Journal of Economic Development, The Freeman, The World & I, Reason, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs, Middle East Policy, Liberty magazine, and other publications. He is a contributor to the The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. A former newspaper reporter and senior editor at the Cato Institute and the Institute for Humane Studies, Sheldon is a graduate of Temple University in Philadelphia. He blogs at Free Association. Send him e-mail.