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Charley Reese - Orlando Sentinel
November 20 - 2002

President Bush still seems intent on going to war with Iraq, and I suspect he will ignore anything the arms inspectors say that doesn't give him an excuse to attack.

Still, there is an outside chance for peace. It depends, of course, on Saddam Hussein. If he is smart enough to cooperate with the arms inspectors and give up any forbidden weapons he might have, then President Bush will have a hard time justifying an invasion.

As I've said before, Saddam will have a greater problem if he doesn't have any weapons of mass destruction. If he has some, he can turn them in; if he doesn't, he's stuck with trying to prove a negative, which is impossible. How can anyone prove he does not have something to a person who won't take his word for it? No matter how much searching the arms inspectors do, if there is nothing to find, the Bush administration will likely claim it's still hidden somewhere.

If that happens, then you will know for certain that the war is about oil and perhaps personal animosity, not about disarmament. There are lots of countries with a lot more weapons of mass destruction and with more dangerous governments than Iraq. If the president were really serious and sincere, then he'd support the concept of a Middle East free of weapons of mass destruction. The Arabs have tried to foster that idea for years, but then the United States would have to confront Israel about its weapons of mass destruction, and that Mr. Bush will never do.

It's too bad we can't treat Israel the same way we treat France or Germany or Japan. If we could, it would eliminate so much hypocrisy and moral dishonesty in our foreign policy in the Middle East. But, alas, the politicians in Washington treat Israel as if it can do no wrong and the Arabs, especially the Palestinians and Iraqis, as if they can do nothing right.

The Dalai Lama of Tibet is 100 percent right. Every person on this earth is alike. We all want happiness and an end to suffering. But the two big obstacles are hatred and egoism, the kind of egoism that puts us not only first but above every other person. As long as hatred dwells in the human heart, peace will be impossible.

A war in Iraq will not merely discomfort Saddam Hussein. He has spent his entire life in conflict. I doubt seriously that he's very happy, but he's probably one of those people who is relatively happier in battle than in peacetime.

But ordinary Iraqis will die and suffer, and quite probably ordinary Americans as well. People with families or hopes of one day having families. People who don't now and never will profit from the oil beneath Iraqi soil. People who, if the politicians permitted it, would likely be friends with the people they will try to kill and who will try to kill them. Iraqi children will be denied an opportunity to live. War in itself, as Ernie Hemingway said, is a crime against humanity, and the politicians on all sides who start them should be prosecuted.

In addition to hatred and egoism, I would add fear. President Bush claims to fear that Iraq will hand over some weapons to terrorists, though Iraq has not been linked to international terrorism for the past nine years. Certainly Israelis fear the Palestinians, and vice versa. It is natural to hate what one fears, and so the circle of violence becomes perpetual. It takes a thousand times more courage to favor peace than to be a warmonger.

We can't afford to give up hope for peace, though. Sooner or later, the human race will come to its senses.

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