Countering President George Bush’s claims that Congress is close to endorsing a war against Iraq, leading Democrats and women’s rights proponents are criticizing Bush for rushing into war without exhausting diplomatic means, and without fully assessing Iraq’s threat to the United States.
In a speech in San Francisco this week, former Vice President Al Gore questioned the political timing of Bush’s announcement of his plan to attack Iraq weeks before the midterm Congressional elections. Gore argued that without international support, a unilateral war against Iraq could have negative consequences for both the US and the world. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD) also accused Bush of “politicizing” the discussion of war. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) told the Washington Post that “we as a nation are better served right now by some patience to see if the United Nations can in fact compel compliance” with demands to inspect the country for weapons of mass destruction.
Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) pointed out in a speech to the Senate today that his constituents are worried that “we are shifting our focus away from ending the violence in the Middle East, eliminating al Qaeda, and rebuilding Afghanistan even though that Herculean task has barely begun.” Despite the Bush administration’s calls for a Marshall Plan-like reconstruction effort in Afghanistan, Bush made no requests for funding this effort in the 2003 budget. “Is the Administration committed to investing the resources it is going to take to rebuild Iraq, even when we are falling short of what is needed in Afghanistan?” Leahy posed.
The women of Afghanistan are the hardest hit by the continuing violence in their country, especially in the areas that lack peacekeeping forces, where well-armed warlords rule through fear and violence. Despite Bush’s rhetoric about the plight of women in Iraq justifying war, many prominent feminist leaders and authors have signed into the “Not in Our Name” pledge against war in Iraq and the broader war against terrorism, including Gloria Steinem, Robin Morgan, bell hooks, Angela Davis, Alice Walker, and Eve Ensler.
“We must finish what we started in Afghanistan by expanding peacekeeping troops beyond the capital, providing much-needed humanitarian aid, and sticking to our commitment of rebuilding the country. We cannot let the warlords of Afghanistan return to power and the dream of democracy and equality for women and girls slip away,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority.