Published on Saturday, July 9, 2005 by CommonDreams.org
Open Letter to George W. Bush
by Ralph Nader
| On June 28, 2005 you addressed the nation in prime time about the situation in Iraq. You called the casualties, destruction and
suffering in that country "horrifying and real." Then you declared: "I know Americans ask the question: Is the sacrifice worth it?
It is worth it," you asserted and went on to explain your position.
My question to you is this: "Who is doing the sacrificing on the US side besides our troops and their families and other Americans whose dire necessities and protections cannot be met due to the diversion of huge spending for the Iraq war and occupation?"
Let's start with the wealthy. In the midst of the ravages of war, you gave them a double tax cut, pushing these enormous windfalls through Congress at the same time as concentrations of wealth among the top one percent richest were accelerating.
You also cut taxes for the large corporations that benefit most from arcane, detailed tax legislation. Many of these corporations have profited greatly from the tens of billions of dollars in contracts which you have handed them.
Companies like Halliburton, from which Vice President Dick Cheney receives handsome retirement benefits, keep getting multi-billion contracts even though the Pentagon auditors and investigations by Rep. Henry Waxman have shown vast waste, non-performances, and not a little corruption. Not much corporate sacrifice there.
You and Mr. Cheney need to be reminded that your predecessors pressed, during wartime, for surcharges on corporate profits of the largest corporations. As Rep. Major R. Owens pointed out recently in introducing such legislation (H.R. 1804), the precedents for such an equitable policy, at a time of growing federal deficits, occurred during World War I, World II, the Korean and Vietnam wars. Ponder the difference. Past Presidents increased taxes on the large companies as a way of spreading out the economic sacrifice a little. Instead, during record, even staggering big corporate profits, you reduce their contributions to the US Treasury and military expenditures.
Where is the presence of the sons and daughters of the top political and economic rulers in the Iraq theater, where they can see the suffering of millions of innocent Iraqi people? You can count on the fingers of one hand the number of family members serving over there among the 535 members of Congress, and the White House. No specific data is available for the families of the CEOs of the Fortune 500. But we can guess that very few are stationed in and around the Sunni triangle these days. Can't get much tennis, golf or sailing in, if that were the case. How often have you extolled the patriotic sacrifice of members of the armed forces, the Reserves and the National Guard? How often have you praised their work as the highest form of service to their nation, its security and future. Well, what about your daughters' having this sublime opportunity to be on the receiving end of their father's encomiums? Remember Major John Eisenhower, among others.
In an earlier unanswered letter, I urged you and Mr. Cheney to announce that you would reject the tens of thousands of dollars in personal tax cuts that passage of your tax cut legislation for the wealthy would have accorded both of your fortunes. Recusing yourselves would have conveyed the message that it is unseemly to sign your own personal tax reduction. It would also have furthered the principle of the moral authority to govern.
Well, you did sign your own tax cut, while tens of thousands of Americans had to leave their employment and small businesses and go to Iraq at a reduced pay and worrying about inadequate protective equipment and insufficient training.
Those rulers who send young men and women into undeclared wars on platforms of fabrications, deceptions, and cover-ups do not have proper incentives for responsible and effective behavior and politics. Some degrees of shared sacrifice provide prudent restraint against the manipulations and recklessness of politicians and the supporting avarice of their fellow oligarchs.
Without some measure of sacrifice, programs are misdesigned to pursue stateless terrorists in ways and areas that actually produce recruitment opportunities for more such terrorists. Note your own CIA Director Porter Goss's testimony before the Senate earlier this year. But the resulting warmongering, where the "intelligence and the facts" are fixed to the policy, became unsavory re-election strategies in 2004.
You have often told us that you want to nominate federal judges who believe in a strict construction of the Constitution. How about a President who believes in the strict constitutional authority of Article One, Section Eight which gives Congress and Congress alone the power to declare war? Requiring a declaration of war, together with legislation requiring, upon such a declaration, the conscription of all eligible members of Congressional and White House families would assure that only "unavoidable and necessary wars" are declared and fought.