It Takes Time

In last week’s “The WMD’s, Mr. Bush,” Ruoxi Chen ’05 classifies the actions of the Bush administration as “dubious” and purports to speak for our Founding Fathers in decrying the “mockery America has become.” Her conclusions and brash assumptions are as follows: Iraq must not have weapons of mass destruction since we haven’t found them yet; Afghanistan represents a military failure; and Iraq, too, will be a failure. It is true: only days after the administration reached its main military objective in Iraq, the American public has yet to hear confirmation of the presence of WMD’s in Iraq. But Ms. Chen’s logic–that because weeks have passed since the day coalition forces arrived in Iraq and no WMD’s have been discovered, there must not be, nor have ever been, such weapons in Iraq–is fundamentally flawed. To expect such findings so early in the process is unreasonable. Sweeping a desert nation more than twice the size of Idaho requires time–a concept Ms. Chen also overlooks. She writes that “the ‘democracy’ in Afghanistan fell apart at the seams,” crediting this to–whom else?–our President and his colleagues. But to criticize our involvement in the rebuilding of Afghanistan is to refuse to recognize the blatant improvements from its prior Taliban-controlled government. Evidently this is not, apparently, a success. In Afghanistan, a stick-together-at-the-seams democracy would be a success, and Chen must be reminded that to establish such a democracy requires time. In a country that has faced the horrors of civil war for the past 23 years, establishing a working, legitimate democracy will never be an easy, swift task. In addition, it must also be noted that many did not consider America a fully developed democracy until after the Civil War, decades after the establishment of our country’s foundation. While still in the first years of rebuilding Afghanistan, it is absolutely ludicrous to expect a fully developed democracy already. Progress should be expected, and that we have certainly made: women are free to reveal their faces in public; television is now legal; more than a hundred schools and medical clinics have been built; and Afghan refugees are actually returning to their homeland. It may not be a perfect democracy, but it is undoubtedly an improvement. Indeed, post-war Iraq does resemble post-war Afghanistan, and will continue to do so. Time will drag on, bystanders will complain, and in the end, we will be able to celebrate better nations for the people of Afghanistan and Iraq. In the rebuilding of Iraq, Americans, French, Russians and other world citizens alike will continue to scrutinize another resource not seen in Afghanistan: oil. Ms. Chen joins a number of commentators when she suggests that this war is about oil, referring to the connection between Vice President Cheney and the Texas oil company Halliburton to further her case against the administration. Indeed, Kellogg Brown & Root, a Halliburton subsidiary, has in fact received the tasks of extinguishing oil-well fires and managing ports in Iraq, but for reasons other than ties to Cheney. KB&B is one of the few companies capable of accomplishing such tasks, and further, the only with the ability to do so on such short notice; as KB&B was similarly involved in Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Cambodia, and East Timor, the company has already cleared the necessary security measures. While the link may look suspicious, it is in actuality a mere coincidence. Nonetheless, in order to sway American citizens and those worldwide away from this “conspiracy” of a war for oil, it is key for the administration to establish transparency in all the economic transactions concerning the oil from Iraq. Such a measure would reveal to those around the globe that the administration’s intentions are not that of money, power, and greed, but the safety of America and the liberation of the Iraqis.