Rarely have I been as shocked at the ignorance of many Americans as I have been in recent months, watching TV discussions and reading op-ed pieces. But I have always comforted myself in the fact that I live in a university bubble, where students strive to educate themselves and think critically about their own beliefs and actions. Even this comfort has been lost over the past year, and articles such as Andrew Snyder’s in the last Campus Times are the reason why.

To which newspaper has Snyder been subscribing? Which books and television programs inform his opinions? Many of his assertions were dubious at best and displayed a naivet about affairs in this country that make me embarrassed for him. Iraq was bombed more than twice during the Clinton administration, and there were most definitely protests of his bombings there and in Sudan. That the popular media chose not to spend much time on voices of dissent does not mean there weren’t any. The current peace movement has gained more media attention because of its scale and because a war in Iraq has been the hot topic.

I agree it is unfortunate that most anti-war protesters seek to portray President Bush as an idiot. The fact of the matter is, he’s worse than an idiot. He’s a criminal and deserves impeachment and a trial date at The Hague. He has withheld the release of public documents and information, claiming an imaginary “executive privilege.” He has financially supported the Israeli military, which has committed human rights violations against Palestinian civilians, instead of demanding that both parties hold a peace summit. He has financially supported the Colombian military, which routinely tortures, rapes and murders its citizens. He has held around 1,000 persons of Muslim or Middle Eastern background without charge or trial and urged that they be judged secretly and in violation of international law. He has instituted a policy of pre-emptive strike and “regime change” which is, again, in direct violation of international law. He has, as well, committed to war without a declaration from Congress, a breach of the Constitution he swore to uphold.

And this isn’t even touching his shady dealings as a corporate executive. The fact that this man was elected blows my mind.

Yet, even if you accept the fact of his election, it does not mean you must blindly accept his policies or actions. How arrogant to think that Bush — or any American president — has the right to make the world a more stable and secure place through pre-emptive military intervention.

If our intentions are so pure, why don’t we invade Nigeria? Sudan? Colombia? There is still a vast labor camp system — not to mention nuclear weapons — in China and North Korea. These governments have attacked their own citizens and threatened others. Why aren’t we knocking at their doors? We need to make the world a more secure place, after all. How naive it is to think the current administration has the welfare of common people in mind when making military decisions.

Donald Rumsfeld has met Saddam Hussein before, in the early ’80s, to give him chemical and biological weapons later used against Kurdish civilians. Unarmed men, women and children were gassed to death, courtesy of American chemical companies. Contrary to Snyder’s belief, our leaders are not as trustworthy and rational as we’d like.

This nation has been governed by men of questionable character for far too long. It is not a matter of politics — of liberals versus conservatives. It is a matter of recognizing when elected officials overstep their bounds.

We as a population will continue to be susceptible to sleights-of-hand and intimidation as long as we are unaware. We must educate ourselves. Dig into archives — search the past issues and the little-publicized documents. Familiarize ourselves with the law. But above all, do not commit to such an enormous decision as war without so much as a critical thought. This is our nation, our home and these are our brothers and friends in uniform. Those are Iraqi children with dreams and hopes living in the remains from the last war. Don’t let it be said, years from now, that a firestorm was loosed on us all because we refused to inform ourselves and make a stand.

Linczak is a senior and can be reached at plinczak@campustimes.org.

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