Dear Mr. President: Enough with the rhetoric already, and take some speech lessons!

More important than democracy are peace and opportunities for peaceful self-actualization and fulfillment under any banner.

Dear President George W. Bush,

Your continued defense of the war in Iraq astounds me. Had you said “Our intelligence community has just provided me with information detailing the whereabouts of weapons of mass destruction – we must act on it now,” I would be less critical. Had that information panned out and had Special Forces been assigned to go in and destroy the weapons immediately and at exact locations, I would be less critical. But you did not have exacting information and you instead authorized the use of force on an entire nation in an effort to prove your opinion and will.

Two points stand out in your rhetoric.

The first point appears to have been that Saddam Hussein was a bad guy and should be taken out at all costs. The U.N. charter theoretically supports that thinking. Once the deed was done, negotiations on future leadership should have then moved from Baghdad to New York, Camp David or another adequate and secure location. Overt U.S. forces should have then been removed from that theater.

The second point, which was actually used as the foundation for U.S. mobilization into Iraq, was that Iraq was a nation dangerous to the United States – and pointedly, because it launched attacks on U.S. landmarks and citizens. That point, sir, is so far out to lunch that I am amazed you are able to stomach looking at yourself and Laura in a mirror. If you can, are you able to see your reflection?

Al-Qaida is the organization that dropped those aircrafts into U.S. landmarks and bombed Spain. Forces should have more competently been assigned to seek out and destroy all vestiges of al-Qaida. Assigning forces and materiel to Iraq is a continued waste. As such, you have effectively authorized the deaths of hundreds of U.S. personnel, private contractors, foreign nationals and thousands of Iraqi citizens.

Remaining in Iraq after the fall of Iraq’s government serves only to bolster the notion that the United States and company are strong and victorious. A 1945-esque occupation of post-World War II Germany does not have the support of a strong number of other leading nations and our friends. Such an occupation in Germany was not encumbered with splinter groups vying for power through use of violent machinations. As such, whether you like to think so or not in your politicking, we are still at war.

As one who has studied modern European history, your stated foundations for war in Iraq, and your continued defense of that war, amazes me.

I will add that I am also concerned for your continued reference to “our NATO allies,” and to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as an organization that should be thought of as responsible for going into nations like Iraq. NATO was developed in a mid-20th century

effort to protect North Atlantic nations from nations such as Hitler’s Germany and Stalinist Soviet Union – not to protect against panregional terrorists.

“Among our NATO allies,” a phrase also used by your friend Donald Rumsfeld, in spirit ignores the notion that a number of those “allies” do not approve of U.S. and coalition occupation in that nation. NATO is a specific tool with specific uses and limitations. Please don’t stretch those limitations more than is wise. By doing so, you stretch the limits of your credibility.

Certainly, many of us applaud your desire to bring about democracy in other parts of the world. But more important than democracy are peace and opportunities for peaceful self-actualization and fulfillment under whatever banner can be used. That said, your methods in Iraq (not al-Qaida) continue to be reprehensible. As a U.S. citizen, and as one who has had ongoing contact with U.S. and foreign nationals and their children for 37 years, I am embarrassed and shocked to refer to you as the president and commander in chief of my nation.

I will close with a halfhearted but sincere suggestion: Go back to school and take speech and communications courses. Your deliveries are typically rough and rambling. You do not think very well on your feet – a sad statement for Yale as the institution that issued you a master’s diploma, and a sad statement about the residents of Texas and U.S. citizens, as we have elected a man who has difficulty expressing himself on issues important to the public.

At the very least, try to answer questions posed to you by members of the press in a succinct, comfortable and firm manner. Both you and Condoleezza Rice have recently provided witness to your (combined) need to improve your speaking skills when under fire by the press and by commissions intent on bringing the truth to bear on these very important issues.

One can go only so far in nice clothing, a smile, a graduate degree and a civil and political title among educated critics.

Barry N. Peterson is a 1996 graduate of the University history department. Send comments to [email protected]