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This is a Fine Mess You've Gotten Us Into, Mr. President

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By Rep. MAXINE WATERS

Let's face it. President George W. Bush has made a mess.

With trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans, he has squandered a multi-billion-dollar budget surplus and replaced it with a multi-trillion dollar deficit.

Interest payments alone on the swelling public debt is now projected to be $1.336 trillion higher than at the beginning of 2001.

He has made a colossal mess in the workforce. The nation lost 308,000 jobs in February, bringing the total job loss to a staggering 2.5 million since he took office.
The president's approval ratings are plummeting as more and more Americans begin to understand the magnitude of the economic mess he has gotten us into. And the mess grows worse as he fervently pursues war in Iraq.

The anticipation of war has pushed gasoline prices up dramatically. Prices now average well over $2 a gallon in automobile-dependent Southern California. This escalation of gasoline prices will further undermine the nation's fiscal health by unleashing a domino effect of economic chaos.

The contrived oil shortage of the 1970s has taught us that prices for food, transportation, housing and everything else will rise in proportion to the price of gasoline. The airline industry is already projecting a loss of 10 million passengers, more than $10 billion in revenue and the layoff of more than 70,000 employees should we go to war in Iraq.

Not only is the president ruining the nation's economy, he is also making a mess of starting a war. As I write this, the Bush Administration and the British were struggling to come up with a United Nations resolution that would be acceptable to nine members of the Security Council. Britain, the president's staunchest ally, was attempting to fashion a compromise resolution that gives Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein more time-until the end of March-to disarm before launching military action.

Unlike President Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair is apparently listening to the voices of dissent against war that abound in his country and around the world. Of course, Blair's job may depend on UN support for war in Iraq. The British press has depicted Blair as a puppet, dangling on strings manipulated by George W. Bush and, in the British Parliament, members of his own party have suggested that Blair get out of the war or get out of office.

However, even the British compromise seems doomed in the UN Security Council with France and Russia threatening to veto any resolution that imposes a deadline for war.

Even Spain, a supporter of President Bush, has joined France, Russia and England in saying the inspectors are making progress and should be given more time to find any weapons of mass destruction Iraq might possess, but he is not listening.

He won't even listen to members of his own administration who say that Iraq poses no imminent threat to the United States.
Bush has vowed to go to war with or without UN approval, justifying that position with a "Coalition of the Willing" that will stand with the United States if it invades Iraq.

Except for England, Spain and Italy, the member nations of the coalition remain unknown. The "willingness" of Britain seems to be eroding and the willingness of the other coalition members is questionable.

According to a report from the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, the anonymous "Coalition of the Willing" was formed through coercion and bribery.
The president has simply failed to justify a need for war.

He has alternately asserted that Iraq must be attacked because: it is hiding weapons of mass destruction; the regime in Iraq must be changed; Saddam Hussein is linked to the 9/11 attacks; Iraq has repeatedly violated UN resolutions.

The fact is, Iraq is only suspected of hiding weapons, there is no evidence to link Hussein and 9/11 and violation of UN Resolutions has never before been a cause for war. In fact, violating UN resolutions has never caused anything. UN resolutions have been routinely violated since 1947 and no nation has been held accountable for its actions in any way. And, among violating nations, Iraq doesn't even rank among the top three.

The president's unrelenting quest for war in Iraq, which has opened its borders to inspections and is in a process of destroying banned weapons, is not only unjustified, it is incomprehensible when North Korea is entered into the equation.

We know the North Koreans have nuclear weapons and we know they have an untested missile capable of reaching the Western United States. We also know that Iraq does not possess that capability. North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, is quoted as saying: "If war should break out on the Korean Peninsula, it will escalate into a nuclear war.

Then, not only the people in North and South Korea, but people in Asia and many countries around the world will suffer from a frightful nuclear catastrophe."

Clearly, North Korea poses a greater threat than Iraq, but the Bush Administration says it is resigned to North Korea's nuclear weapons and has proposed economic assistance to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear program, while promoting war to disarm a lesser threat in Iraq. That just doesn't make logical sense, but that's par for the course with President Bush.

It doesn't make sense that he is hell-bent on going to war, but has not set aside one dime in the budget to wage it. War will surely increase the risk of terrorist attack at home. It doesn't make sense that the Bush Administration has told us to stock up on duct tape to protect ourselves against terrorism, while short-changing the new Department of Homeland Security by billions of dollars.

The president has not come up with a single legitimate reason for rushing to war in Iraq and he is doing his best to ignore the voices of those who oppose it. We must not let him ignore us. We must turn up the volume and continue raising our voices against war.

We must make the president understand that we will not allow our young people to die in a war that is neither justified nor necessary.
We must make everyone understand that he has made enough of a mess already.

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