Dear Readers, I have taken the unusual step of writing to a paper, simply because I feel that I can remain silent no longer. I believe that many feel as I do. I will not comment on the war or the reasons that led up to it but what I do want to address is what we must do next – and what we must not do. We are at a pivotal point. Right now, as you read this, the President, and his advisors in the Defense and State Departments, are planning the occupation of Iraq. News reports claim that his intentions are to involve the UN in only a minimal fashion – for humanitarian and advisory roles. Already, contracts have been handed out preferentially to American companies, angering our allies and creating the appearance that we have entered this war for personal gain. To create even the appearance of such an impropriety would engender more hatred of America and more terrorism on our soil. Some of the largest of these contracts have gone to Halliburton – the company that Vice President Chenney once controlled and now retains stock in. Many people didn’t see the headlines that Cheney opted to take stocks in the company instead of being paid in cash when he left. As Halliburton gains, so does the Vice President – personally. When that headline rears its head again, after the war, and when Iraqi oil is flowing, it will simply reinforce an already dangerous idea and cause serious problems for regular Americans. It is essential for us as Americans to speak up and be heard at this juncture. We must make it clear to our own government and the rest of the world that we did not enter this conflict for monetary gain and we will not let any in our government even appear to gain financially. The question is how to accomplish this. We must demand from our government that all Iraqi oil reserves be managed by a body that is not the United States or Brittan. The UN appears to be a likely candidate but it is clear that those who fought in the conflict should not administer the spoils. If we are to maintain that we did this solely for a desire to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction then we can do nothing else. The real question is, can we make a difference? The administration has pointed out that they do not follow polls or govern by public opinion. It is true, however, that when large majorities of Americans are vocal about an issue, policy can be changed. Lets stop this train wreck before it starts. The damage this Administration will do if it is not made to change course will be strong and long lasting. Please speak up and be heard.
Dr. Nicholas Panasik Jr.Johns Hopkins University
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