These are times in which there are many more questions than answers, and many Americans are beginning to form and articulate these questions. Some of the questions on my mind are the following:
1. If the president gives false information to the American people about the reasons for going to war, how should he be held to account?
2. If the United Nations Security Council does not authorize a preemptive war, can any country proceed to war or is this the sole prerogative of the US government?
3. If a country proceeds to war without UN authorization, is this “aggressive warfare,” the type of warfare for which German and Japanese leaders were punished after World War II?
4. When the North Korean government repeatedly states that the nuclear crisis can be defused if the US will negotiate a mutual security pact with them, why is the current US administration dragging its feet in proceeding to enter into negotiations?
5. Does the United States have a responsibility to participate with UN forces in restoring security to civilians in civil wars, such as that in Liberia?
6. Should American troops stationed in Iraq have the right to complain about the policies of civilian leaders responsible for our policy there?
7. With half its combat forces in Iraq, is the US military stretched so thin that it cannot adequately protect Americans at home or participate in needed UN peacekeeping operations abroad?
8. With the war in Iraq costing American taxpayers nearly $4 billion per month and the US deficit expected to exceed $400 billion this year, was it wise to pass large tax cuts for the richest Americans?
9. Is the desire to control Iraq’s oil the reason that the US hasn’t asked the United Nations for help in providing peacekeeping in Iraq?
10. What is the relationship of companies such as Halliburton, Bechtel and the Carlyle Group, which are profiting from the war in Iraq, to members of the current US administration?
11. Are Americans safer to travel throughout the world after the Iraq War?
12. Has the credibility of the United States throughout the world increased or decreased in the aftermath of the Iraq War?
13. What is the current status of respect for the United States throughout the world?
14. Why has the current US administration been hostile to the creation of an International Criminal Court to hold individual leaders accountable for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity?
15. Is war an effective way to make peace?
It is time to start demanding answers from our government to these questions and many more, and their answers should not be given only in secrecy behind closed doors. Questions about war and peace are far too important to be left only to politicians and generals without the voice of the people. It is time for an ongoing public dialogue that includes answers to questions from the public. If democracy is to have meaning, the people have a right to know and they deserve to have their questions answered.
DAVID KRIEGER is president of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation. He is the editor of Hope in a Dark Time (Capra Press, 2003), and author of Choose Hope, Your Role in Waging Peace in the Nuclear Age (Middleway Press, 2002).
He can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.