Questions to Mr. Bush, posed a year ago are still unanswered

Category: Americas, World Affairs Topics: George W. Bush, Iraq Views: 4013

George McGovern, senator from South Dakota from 1962 to 1980

The Bush Administration has vigorously and effectively responded to the terrorist attack of September 11. The country seems united behind that effort. Certainly there was no hint of a doubt in the repeated standing ovations Congress gave the President's State of the Union address, including his bold declaration that the war on terrorism has just begun. The President singled out Iran, Iraq and North Korea as the most likely next targets of America's aroused ire against terrorists and governments that attempt to acquire weapons of mass destruction that we, the Russians, the British, the French, the Chinese, the Indians, the Pakistanis and the Israelis already possess.

No longer in government, I do not have the benefit of national security briefings or Congressional committee deliberations. So perhaps instead of making assertions, it may be more appropriate for me to ask some questions that have been on my mind both before and since September 11.

Which course might produce better results in advancing American security? Is it by continuing to boycott, diplomatically and commercially, such countries as Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Libya and Cuba and threatening to bomb them? Or would we be better off opening up diplomatic, trade and travel relations with these countries, including a well-staffed embassy in each? If we are fearful of a country and doubtful of its intentions, wouldn't we be safer having an embassy with professional foreign service officers located in that country to tell us what is going on?

Our leaders frequently speak of "rogue nations." But what is a rogue nation? Isn't it simply one we have chosen to boycott because it doesn't always behave the way we think it should? Do such nations behave better when they are isolated and boycotted against any normal discourse? What do we have to lose in talking to "rogue nations" diplomatically, trading with them commercially and observing their economic, political and military conditions?

Instead of adding $48 billion to the Pentagon budget, as the President has proposed, wouldn't we make the world a more stable, secure place if we invested half of that sum in reducing poverty, ignorance, hunger and disease in the world? We are now twentieth among nations in the percentage of gross national product devoted to improving life in the poor nations. If we invested half of the proposed new military spending in lifting the quality of life for the world's poor we would be the first among nations in helping others.

Is it possible that such an achievement would reduce some of the gathering anger that the poor and miserable of the earth may be inclined to direct at the rich and indifferent? Why does a wealthy zealot like Osama bin Laden gain such a huge following among the poor and powerless of the world? Acting on the old adage "charity begins at home," why not invest the other half of the proposed new money for the Pentagon in raising the educational, nutritional, housing and health standards of our own people?

Our military services are the best in the world. But with a military budget at record levels, do we need to allocate another $48 billion-an amount greater than the total military budget of any other nation? Is not the surest foundation for our military forces a healthy, educated, usefully employed citizenry? And is not the best way to diminish some of the international trouble spots, which might embroil our young men and women, by reducing the festering poverty, misery and hopelessness of a suffering world?

Of course we need to take reasonable precautions in our airports and other strategic points to guard against terrorists or nut cases. As a World War II bomber pilot, I appreciate the role of both tactical and strategic bombing in all-out warfare. But is sending our bombers worldwide in the hope that they might hit terrorist hideouts or such hostile governments as Iraq an effective way to end terrorism? May it not more likely erode our current international coalition, while fanning the flames of terrorism and hatred against us as the world's only superpower, hell-bent on eradicating evil around the world?

The Administration now has seventy-five officials hidden in bunkers outside Washington poised to take over the government in the event of a terrorist attack. Is it possible that paranoia has become policy? No such extreme measures were undertaken in World War II, nor in the half-century of cold war between the two nuclear giants, Russia and the United States.

All of us who love this land want our President to succeed. Nothing would give me greater happiness than to see him become a great President. But is it possible that our well-intentioned President and his Vice President have gone off the track of common sense in their seeming obsession with terrorism? Is there still validity to the proverb "whom the Gods would destroy, they first make mad"?

For half a century, our priorities were dominated by the fear of Russian Communism-until it collapsed of its own internal weakness. As I listen to the grim rhetoric of Messrs. Bush and Cheney, I wonder if they are leading us into another half-century of cold war, with terrorism replacing Communism as the second great hobgoblin of our age. 

Source: The Nation April 4, 2002

  Category: Americas, World Affairs
  Topics: George W. Bush, Iraq
Views: 4013

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Older Comments:
A Salaamu Alaikum,

Mr. McGovern is right on point. Bush has turned Paranoia into "Policy". What was originally a fight against Bin Laden & Terrorism, turned into a "Regime Change/secure the Oil fields"(to protect Bush & His cronie's investments) tactic. The U.S. is an impoverished nation also.. many of our own people need resources. We're also the most violent nation, with more handgun deaths than any other nation in the world. No wonder we have a Bully"ish" approach towards other nations. As long as we keep electing people into office such as Bush, the vicious cycle will never end.


It is widely read that Ameerica is going to war. A point to be remembered is, what America is doing is what the earlier kingdoms used to do, that, is invasion and not war. A war is fought between two contending powers and not not between a bull and enfeebled bully.

Somokey --- The point was that McGovern has long been held as an idiot in this country. But you can't read that far into anything.
He blames the collapse of the USSR as being self imposed. It happened because the USSR tried to match the US dollar for dollar on armaments and foreign aid and collapsed because they couldn't pay for it. McGovern discounts this fact of life.
And when McGovern talks of helping the military in this country, the Democrats have a long history of being cheap when it comes to the military.
And when McGovern speaks of utilizing the money on feeding the poor and impoverished well -- we already spend a hell of a lot of money right now.
McGovern is an old hippy and it's sad to parade his ideas around as if he is a voice of reason in the US.
So somoky, can you do better or are you only capable of two bit insults.

McGoverns election against Nixon isnt the issue here you mindless dolt. You obviously didnt read the article or cant counter the arguments so you've gone after the author. Mike, you're a silly and shallow child. Do you listen to Rush (draft dodger) Limbaugh by any chance

Mr.McGovern is correct.
Mr.Hale we are living in a globalized world.Nationalism is not an option anymore and you are an endangered specie.May Allah liberate mankind from people like you!

I think Mr. Senator is very correct. America need to know that moslems are not Anti-american . Moslems can get long with Americans very well from day one. So many moslems are living in America and lots of them do appreciate the genorosity of American people not just giving the opportunity to come here also understanding the American culture , Relegion and above all the people of America. My mother used to tell me that America is a country of wealth and it is a blessing of God & God gave to a nation whom He wish. Fundamentally Moslems have lots of similarity with Americans . As a matter of fact, if you see the history it is clear that moslems have not that much direct conflict with Americans. I personally appreciate American involvement Yugosolovia to save lots of life.
America is a rich nation and its capital could be used in many productive fashion so exteremist will not grow as it is having now.

Making a good relationship with moslems is nota bad idea at all. Look all the Moslem countries like saudia Arabia, Kuwait loves to hire Americans and pay them most highest salary . People come to study in America that also create a bond between culture and relegion. People do admire Americans technology. So my question why so much hate? Where the Hate coming from?

America still have a great opportunity to bulid a bond and shows their true intention that Yes we can introduce a system that will govern well in any country . Its only produce positive out put for all mankind.
Thank you mR. senator . I wish America will be same America as all we imagine like a country of pioneers men like Lincoln, Jefferson , Washington whom we all admire very much from our heart.


It is absolutely not America's job to feed and provide medical attention and jobs to the world. Why don't you pay for your own messes.

George McGovern lost the Presidency to Richard Nixon by a huge spread. Nixon garnered over 72% of the popular vote. It just shows how Americans felt about George McGovern. And while our country continues to spread food aid, monetary aid, military aid, AID's aid, and every other aid you can think of we get blasted for trying to protect American lives. Since the bombing in Lebanon of 1982 and killing almost 300 US Marines there have been over 882 US fatalities by "Terrorist Organizations". President Bush will stop bin laden and his ilk and obviously Saddam Insane has but a few days left in office and in freedom. Of course, Saddam is one of the few people that is actually free in Iraq. I guess you could include that lovable son who is no better than his daddy. They are fixing to meet Mr MOAD.
George McGovern has enjoyed spending the taxpayers money since he was first elected in that very populace state of South Dakota. One of the great states in America that sends the US government about 1 dollar in federal taxes and receives back 3 dollars. Him and Tom Daschle are both morons from a state that is poor, has no discernable crops or industry but has politicians that are nowhere near main stream America.
And if that tax money was siphoned off to the poor countries for aid the only people who would benefit are the military and the warlords, ie. Somalia, Angola, North Korea, etc. etc.

I totally agree with this article. The president needs to focus on the economy and helping the poor and imrovished nations. War and injustice will not make America safe.


I could not have said it better, Mr. George Mc Govern has spilled out all the necessary ingridients for making this world a safe place. Mr Bush and his advisers should listen to this man.

Mr. George McGovern has hit the nail on the head. If Mr. Bush or for that matter any US President will continue to pursue such Pig Headed Policies... Americans will be haunted by Osamas and Saddams, and a few others that will be born down the line.... in their dreams for the rest of their lives.....