Dear President Bush,
Greetings to you from a common American citizen. I am writing to you in hopes of influencing you on to a path that could lead you to becoming the greatest president in the history of our country.
As we, the people of your country, and the citizens of the rest of the world wait for your decision on a ground war in Iraq, and the occupation of The Middle East, some in anguish, some in confidence, and some in fear, I would like to give you a perspective that you may not be getting from those around you.
My Dear Mr. President, if you use your power to stop the imminent occupation of the Middle East by American and British troops, you will instantly gain the respect and gratitude of the entire world! What is happening in the streets of the United States and around the world today is truly remarkable, and contrary to what you may hear or read, this IS NOT your typical protest. These protests are taking place BEFORE the war has started! People around the world, PEOPLE THAT LOVE THE AMERICAN POTENTIAL AND DREAM, are begging for you to listen to what they are saying.
YOU are in charge, and NO ONE ELSE. Never before have citizens from all countries around the world joined hands to say, "this time, the United States needs to stop and think, and to please listen to us. You, as a country, are better than this!"
Mr. President, I volunteered for the Infantry, at age the 17, in 1971 during the Vietnam War, and through the grace of good luck, I managed to have the honor of serving my country in the Rangers, First Infantry Division for 3 years, all overseas, and I was fortunate in doing so without having to become a victim of a war that ruined many, many lives in "OUR" generation. I did however, spend those three years with scores of men that survived Vietnam, at least physically.
Living, training, and more importantly learning from combat heros had a profound impact on my life. And now, as we sit on the brink of occupying the most hostile and religiously fanatical part of the world, that being The Middle East, I think I am qualified to say that we are about to cross that line between right and wrong again, as we did in Vietnam.
President Bush, did you know that as many Vietnam veterans have committed suicide since that war ended as died in the war? It is a horrible and staggering fact. The main reason for this horrific fact is that they made their sacrifices in an unjust war. There is even a web site being run by veterans in hopes of creating a "Suicide Wall" similar to "The Vietnam Memorial Wall," in their honor.
I am begging you, sir, to please take a deep breath, step back, and tell the world's citizens that you have heard them, and that YOU are in control, and YOU will allow diplomacy and inspections to dis-arm Saddam Hussien. You are the only human that can steer this course! The citizens of the world who are protesting are people that love our country dearly, and do not want to see us become stuck in a situation that is obviously a no-win one, as Vietnam was when you and I were young(er). You will win the respect of the entire free world, and this action will show the ruthless dictators of the world that we can defeat them through peaceful example, and that we will support their own freedom-seeking people without resorting to occupational brute force. The people of Iraq have been under sanctions for 12 years, at the cost of an estimated 500,000 civilians under the age of 16. Saddam IS contained, he has NO MORE chance of threatening the United States--unless we give him the thing that he wishes for the most, and that is for an American occupation of Iraq, because that will guarantee that a whole new generation of hateful fanatics will have a target for their "cause" and thereby feed his lunacy.
The common people there need help, and we can easily win them over by sharing the bountiful wealth that we enjoy here at home. Everyone but Saddam's army hate Saddam, and even large numbers of his troops will gladly desert, if they are not facing his wrath. Saddam is as good as gone if we continue to break down his military capabilities through a mass of inspectors, which many nations are gladly offering to send to help the inspectors already in Iraq, towards that end.Mr. President, I love the mixture of all religions and races that are the American people, that which is the TRUE STRENGTH of our great nation.
You will truly be written down as the President that made the most important decision in American history, in saving our country and its ideals, by stopping this ground war and occupation. That decision alone will guarantee you a place as one of the greatest Presidents of all time, and it will immediately win us a whole world of devoted followers.
THAT is what the protesters of the world are trying to tell you my President. They are sending you a message of hope. They still believe in us. They know it is NOT too late, yet. That is what they are saying to you from around the world, and that is what we at home are also trying to say.
Mr. President, I send you my love, hope, and all peace possible, as you weigh the decision that will steer the course that our nation, and the world, will take into the future. WE CAN WIN THROUGH PEACE, BUT WE WILL LOSE THROUGH WAR. Mr. President, and you can literally save our country and the world, but only with peace.
Don`t help the "Saddams" of the world by invading their homelands. Please don`t do it.
Mr. Reilly , of Baton Rouge, La., is a member of Veterans For Peace, Vietnam Veterans Against the War, and Coalition For Alternatiuves to War in Iraq.
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This story was published on March 11, 2003.