July 9th, 2003
Hon. President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC 2050
United States of America
Soest, July 9th, 2003
Dear Mr. President,
Mr. President, as someone who is active on both sides of the Atlantic and who has a deep affection for the United States, I write this letter with the knowledge that I am one of those Europeans who after your “Axis of evil” speech was described by followers in your administration as “weak-kneed European Elite“.
Like many Europeans I can only oppose and reject the unilateral approach of your administration on Iraq and other matters affecting the future of the world, which in the vision of your administration is based on a system which rests on American primacy, whereby American global power must not be challenged.
I am deeply concerned about the “absolutist” direction my American friends are moving and I like to offer you my thoughts since it’s impossible to keep silent about this troubling new face of America.
With all due respect Sir, I really hope you are going to be a one term President, because Sir I doubt very much that the World can handle another four years of this kind of leadership.
There are some of your followers who consider you one of the best minds of this century, however Mr. President, with your faith-based rhetoric you do not appeal to me. It is like former President Truman observed “There is nothing new in the world except the history you do not know”.
I am not sure on which planet you live, because Sir, I am sure it isn’t mine.
Mr. President, I remember what you said as a candidate “If we are an arrogant nation they will resent us”, now Mr. President you have certainly done your utmost to achieve this.
Mr. President, since you have become President of this great democratic Nation, the global and foreign policy of the US has changed from defensive towards offensive and is now based on US domination as a national security strategy and as a result the US has acted against universal law and the guiding principle of American democracy – the elevation of law over arbitrary power.
This has become a central issue and cause for grave concern, your new strategy is already compared with the pan-German expansionism of Wilhelm II, before 1914, unrealistic geopolitical ambitions and a pre-emptive strategy for dealing with opponents.
We in Europe are repulsed by your doctrine of pre-emptive war. As President Dwight Eisenhower put it, “Any missile launched, any shell fired, any bomb dropped is a theft from those who struggle to clothe and feed the needy”. Since WW II we Europeans have matured to the point that we see war as an anachronism.
Mr. President, your speech of October 7, 2002, had the headline “Denial and Deception”, how ironic, but now the question you must answer is “whatever happened to the potential weapons of mass destruction or were we right to conclude that your goal was all along “Regime change”, the overthrow of Saddam Hussein and to control the Oil and Gas reserves of Iraq”.
In your last State of the Union there was little what appealed to universal values, to the importance of international law and institutions that could win me over to support your case?
The same can be said about Secretary of State Colin Powell pitiful speech at the UN regarding the reason going to war against Iraq. It was painful to see how so called serious evidence was presented, flimsy texts, equivocal photos and insinuations, indeed very low on substance.
Mr. President, I can only conclude that your case for war was driven by politics rather than logic and evidence. From the beginning you were set on taking Saddam Hussein out and establishing a new puppet regime for at least two years but more likely five years.
If the UN would have supported you in your conquest for power, then indeed the UN would have rendered themselves as irrelevant.
Mr. President, with this approach of yours, the result has been that two months after the war, the iron curtain of fundamentalism risks falling over Iraq.
You have opened the Pandora box in the Middle East and you are causing anxiety in an already very unstable region. It has inflamed the region further feeding terrorism and will undermine the global campaign against terrorism and it will have further negative consequences on the economy.
Mr. President in my view it has always been in the interest of you and your friends to take control of Iraq’s high quality and easily extracted oil, which is estimated up till 220 billion barrels, thereby ending the Saudi domination of the international oil market.
After all on the medium term (2020) the demand of imported oil of the US will rise from 10,4 million barrels a day to 16,7 million barrels a day. Around 2020 the oil reserves in the Middle East will have risen from 38 % as it is today up till between 54 – 70 % and as your adviser General Zinni observed it is in the interest of the US to have free access to the sources.
But what is even worse, you have succeeded in deteriorating the relations between the allies, US and Europe and this is mainly due to the present change in the overall strategy of the US makes it is harder to see the present administration as a reasonable power.
Mr. President, the alliance which Senator John McCain called “the greatest political military in the history of mankind” will be coming down and many wonder why you have not tried to preserve it. The threat made by U.S. officials to transfer U.S. NATO bases in Germany to “new Europe” was empty but I suggest you do it and do it fast; it will only strengthen the European Union.
Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld maintains that the three European Governments who have been making the difficulties for the US over Iraq are isolated, but Sir NATO popular support was opposed to a war against Iraq not mandated by the United Nations. These three countries who strongly opposed you spoke for 80 % of the European population and more then 70 percent in Eastern Europe as well. So Mr. President who was isolated???
Mr. President, with your policies you have inflicted serious damage to the institutions which embody the aspirations for multilateral security aspiration among Western democracies: the European Union, NATO and the UN Security Council.
There are constant differences, which separate the Europe from the US, whether in crime, GMO, education, welfare, regulation, foreign policy and world governance. Our approach and priorities what we see as a civilized society as a whole are different, also the widening of the strategic and conceptual gab between the US and Europe is dangerous and on the long term can only be seen as a strategic threat to the US.
These destructive policies of your administration “you are either with us, or against us”, have done already and will continue to do tremendous damage to the US on the long term. Your policies seem to find their origin with the same civilian’s hawks who avoided military service in Vietnam and now calling for war from a safe distance in their comfortable homes and are blasting the generals and anybody else who dares to caution for this kind of approach.
In your desire to go to war, your War Lord Donald Rumsfeld was seemingly as certain in his misjudgement as was Robert McNamara when the US plunged deep into the mire of Vietnam.
Mr. President, your strategy is imperialist in terms of its overwhelming military power, but I doubt the founding fathers had this in mind for this great Democracy, which was once a beacon of freedom. A core group of conservatives is realizing long dreamt ambitions under the cover of this war against terrorism.
Mr. President, after the Patriot Act it is almost if I see Joe McCarthy smiling while he is coming out of the shadows, people have been branded as unpatriotic when they dared to oppose this insane war effort, this is not only insulting it is immoral. Just as immoral as how individual rights are curtailed and the harm being done to civil liberties. It is almost perverse, people have been held in jail indefinitely and it is being refused to tell who is held.
There are military tribunals, secret arrests and secret trials. Since Joe McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Committee no American government has shown such contempt to basic rights. Benjamin Franklin’s said in 1755 to the Pennsylvania Convention: “They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety”.
Mr. President, the serious question which we have a ask ourselves today is, has the once held belief of a division between the West and the Rest, been replaced by a division between the US and the Rest. Like your War Lord Rumsfeld recently said, we will lead, other will follow. But Mr President, we in Europe are not satellite states of the United States.
Mr. President, in only two years, you have managed, that the US is getting the image of a rogue state, attempting to destroy the institutions of international law that previous US administrations have carefully build since WW II. This sentiment is growing with every assault on the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court and every rejection of treaty based responses to climate change or the unconditional US support for Israel, which is seen as one of the largest factor contribution to these feelings.
Mr. President, looking back at the first 100 days of your administration I already concluded it was a disaster and you have continued with the same level of incompetence. Differences did appear at a early stage of your administration in a number of disputes, starting with your withdrawal from the Kyoto agreements, the Rio pact on biodiversity, the US was removed from the Human right commission, poverty and sustainable development, the withdrawal from the ABM treaty, jeopardizing and destroying the Korean Détente, the Middle East conflict supporting Sharon as well as the pursuit of Missile Defense and recently those remarks about GMO.
Mr. President, I did conclude at the time that, “after the crisis with China we saw a President who lives in the past, a President who has no long term view of the future, behaving like an Elephant in a China cabinet, supported by the old men in the administration, most of them men from the past, old men, leftovers from the cold war policies. That it almost seemed that the US needs enemies or a cause to fight. It lacks strategic direction and the world has changed greatly”.
Further intellectual difference between the US and Europe exist in such issues as capital punishment, gun control, the opposition of the US against a ban on landmines and the treatment of prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, the secretive military tribunals “Kangaroo courts” are a challenge to the American constitution and the chosen process is a travesty of International war, as well as the opposition of the US to the ICC (International Criminal Court), leading to the Helms-Miller measure, while economic threats have been made to those countries who might not agree with the US.
In the United Nation your administration was isolated in the matter of Iraq, 11 of the 15 member of the security counsel supported the France-German position and without UN endorsement the US attacked Iraq. This so called “coalition of the willing”, meaning countries like Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia was all nonsense, the only coalition which would have mattered was one approved my the UN. By choosing this path of unilateral war towards Iraq you have failed in your responsibility to the American people and the world.
Looking back at your administration, it is amazing that you have not used the momentum after 9/11 when the world came together, to reach consensus on many important subjects, which affect the long-term future of our existence.
The same can be said of your reaction to the historic Saudi peace proposal (Beirut declaration); your administration lacks a coherent strategy and has not shown any leadership or even a balanced position in the Israeli/Palestine conflict. It should be applauded that your administration recognizes Palestinian statehood, but by giving Israel your support it makes you morally responsible for the war atrocities that have and are presently taken place in the occupied territories. Some leadership of your administration could easily have avoided the destabilization we have seen unfolding.
Now your administration neo-conservative agenda has written its latest chapter in your relationship with Saddam Hussein, as it seems since he is nowhere to be found and neither are the weapons of mass destruction. It almost seems you have already forgotten about Bin Ladin.
But Mr. President, the real problems are different, 35 million citizen in the US are living beneath the poverty income, people are losing their job and have been losing their money in the stock market; the economy and the deficit is out of control, people are selling their homes in order to have capital.
The schools are overcrowded, there are not enough teachers, 23 % percent of all Americans are illiterate, 50 million more Americans cannot read or comprehend above an eight grade level, health care costs are out of control, and patient care is crumbling.
The accumulated surplus of $ 1,336 over the next 10 years is eliminated, squandered away by your $ 1.350 2001 tax cut and there is more financial misery to come.
I can only conclude that as a President you are completely unprepared, especial intellectually. You are substituting platitudes and slogans for thought and analysis, having little capacity or interest in these mental processes; one could conclude you have contempt for them.
To conclude, with your policy the US can only be viewed as morally obtuse and naive in failing to address terrorism in its broader and deeper dimensions, resulting in the decline of global support for US global policies, leading to further isolation.
With all respect for your office Mr. President, the harm which you have been doing to the long-term influence of the US in the world and the interest of the American people will take years to repair, since you obvious fail to understand that world problems can only be dealt with in a multinational framework as provided by the United Nations and not in the unilateral framework as demanded by the US.
Mr. President, looking back at the reign of your administration, the final question we must ask ourselves, is this the kind of world we wish to live in, a Hobbesian world where might is right. A world which is incapable of meeting the real challenges such as poverty, environment, Aids, obstacles to economic development and the spread of weapons of mass destruction.
Or, do we wish to live in a world based on international law and universal values.
William J J Houtzager