"Letter to a Democrat" (October 22, 2004)
The case against a vote for Kerry. By Ramesh Ponnuru
A vote for George W. Bush will make you an accomplice after the fact in the death of thousands and the maiming of thousands more—an infliction of suffering unexcused by justice or necessity. As theologians argued before the invasion of Iraq, preventive war is justified only on grounds of self-defense. But we know now, through the President's own inspector, Charles Duelfer, that Iraq posed no threat to the United States, or to its neighbors. In saying he would launch the war knowing everything he knows now, President Bush has endorsed a principle that most Americans would denounce if other countries espoused it: Might makes right.
Bush could (but doesn't) claim he was misled by bad intelligence into believing that Saddam possessed WMD. But you know better. In voting for Bush now, you would be taking a position you would not have taken before the war—that even if Iraq had no WMD and no connection to 9/11, the U.S. should invade and occupy it; that even without justification, we should kill from ten- to twenty-thousand Iraqis; that even though self-defense does not require it, we should will the death of over 1,000 U.S. servicemen and women and the wounding of 7,000 more. Bush is stuck with that position. He is a politician; you are not. He is asking you to endorse all that has happened knowing that none of it was necessary. Won't that be worse than endorsing what the Pope called the war before it began—"a defeat for humanity"? Won't it be more like endorsing a crime against humanity?