War Looms and a Vigil for Peace -- Feb. 11.

As our nation reels with the shock of the Columbia disaster and the tragic loss of seven of the world's finest, President Bush's march toward war continues.

I study this process daily, reading what all have to say on it. Most recently I was struck by quotations from retired General Norman Schwarzkopf, our Commanding General from the Gulf War, in the Washington Post this week. He sees Donald Rumsfeld, one of Bush's cronies, as being the major force behind our war fury.

When General Schwarzkopf talks to his old Army friends in the Pentagon they tell him -- "When he (Rumsfeld) makes his comments, it appears that he disregards the Army. He gives the perception when he's on TV that he is the guy driving the train and everybody else better fall in line behind him -- or else."

That dismissive posture bothers Schwarzkopf because he thinks Rumsfeld and the people around him lack the background to make sound military judgments by themselves.

Another retired General, Brent Scowcroft, National Security Advisor to both Presidents Ford and Bush, has also been vocal in criticizing our stance. He says, "An attack on Iraq at this time would seriously jeopardize, if not destroy, the global counterterrorist campaign we have undertaken."
He points out that the common concern in the Middle East is with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "If we were seen to be turning our backs on that bitter conflict in order to go after Iraq, there would be an explosion of outrage against us."
The message I am hearing is that President Bush and his close advisors are following their own agenda in threatening to invade Iraq and not seeking counsel from the military people who will be tasked with fighting this war. Further, they also seem unaware how invading Iraq will only strengthen the resolve of our real enemies, the Islamic fundamental terrorists who were the real perpetrators of the September 11th attacks.
President Bush also appears to ignore one of the best indicators of American opinion -- our stock markets. These markets go up and down based on the daily decisions of millions of individual investors.
I quote Reuters News Service from Jan. 31, 2002. "Stocks sank on Friday, tossing major market gauges to three-month lows, on mounting fears of a U.S. war against Iraq." Not only does this mean that Americans have lost trillions, of dollars over this period, it also means that our government will lose billions in tax revenue as a result of these losses.
I believe our Nation is increasingly against President Bush and his warlike policies. On Tuesday, February 11th, our monthly Peace Vigil will convene at noon in front of the Federal Street Post Office. Please show your friends and neighbors how you feel about avoiding this war by joining us in a display of support for Peace, and allowing the U.N. Process to work.

Kenneth Turner Blackshaw

Captain, United States Air Force (Ret.)