The best of the American Dream is over. Pride, patience and respect for international law were highest during my youth. I miss that America, but those values will not return by waging war against a corrupt leader and his spent, frightened and abused citizens.

Few of the "upper-class," and none of President Bush's Congress, have a child who will share in the sacrifice of this war. Our all-volunteer army is not a cross-section of America. Bush should fight to increase stakeholders in the American dream and either re-instate the draft or increase the number of well-off children in harms way. If subject to national service, more young people would have voted. Would the "majority" party have won Congress by 1,800 votes and would Bush, who didn't win the people's vote, be setting the Middle East aflame? I think not.

Does anyone doubt that the military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned us about has returned with a vengeance? At the height of the roaring 90s, I read somewhere that if our military-industrial superpower ever got into a deep recession then "God help the world. We will fabricate enemies and trash a hemisphere to keep our 'way of life'."

Today two-thirds of Americans, and 80 percent of Europeans, oppose a unilateral war by the United States. So why is Bush in such a politically high-risk rush to war? First, while showcasing our weaponry, it will distract us from his economic policy failures. Our nation seems to love to court "almost axis of evil states" so we can improve our national bottom line. Then these companies finance the elections of the same pack of wolves.

To keep our American way of life (read "empire" and "control of oil"), we must have a military base in the Middle East. Though big money and militaries have always danced with our presidents, now they neither care, nor need, to dance with the people at all. They just dance with each other.

We who push for inspections and truth telling, are proud, grateful American patriots. My niece is on her way to the Gulf and my son is in boot camp. They join my ancestors, who have fought in every American war since 1776. I support them and they support my right to speak out. Instead of attacking fellow patriots, the best thanks Col. Staniford can give our troops is to demand solid proof of Iraq's weaponry and urge Mr. Bush to accord proper health care to all disabled vet's.

Here's a quote from Lila Watson that Mr. Bush may ponder: "If you have come to help the Iraqi people, you are wasting your time. If you have come because your liberation is bound up in ours, then let us work together."

BEN TALLEY

Pendleton

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