Charlton Heston has Alzheimer's disease. It is a terrible disease and I feel bad for him. However, there is one question that has arisen from his announcement: will he have to give up his guns? Having been extremely vocal about his Second Amendment rights, Heston has made it clear that the only way he would give up his guns would be if they were pried ''from my cold dead hands." Well maybe not. According to California state law, people who pose a threat to those around them due to mental illness can be stripped of their Second Amendment right to bear arms. It certainly is a shame, but ironically the president of the NRA will live out his final years void of his right to have a gun.
Colin Powell is the only cabinet level official to have actual combat experience, and he is the administration's only dove. Likewise, the Joint Chiefs of Staff are against military intervention in Iraq. Shouldn't we be listening to those who actually know how this war thing works?
Why is the U.S. so bad at finishing wars? The Gulf War ended just weeks after it began with the almost total destruction of the Iraqi army. Having suffered only 148 battle deaths in a war that crushed another nation's capability to wage war, the U.S.-led coalition suddenly stopped at the doorstep of Baghdad, packed up, and sent its half million troops home without having removed the nemesis that instigated international intervention in the first place: Saddam Hussein. While the people of Iraq were left with the results of the war, Hussein lived on comfortably in his splendid palaces and equally lavish bunkers.
George Bush had failed to finish what his coalition had started, and now his son feels obliged to finish the job with yet another war. Yet in much the same way, George W. Bush has shown no signs of having a plan for completion. Granted, his stated goal is the removal of Hussein, but his policy-makers have yet to produce a concrete plan for a post-Hussein Iraq. While plans for initial attacks and overpowering invasions have been leaked to the New York Times, and every pundit with vocal chords or fingers to type has made it clear what they think of such an offensive, little has been made of what the next step would be. While rumors have been thrown out that the State Department and CIA would like to replace Hussein with yet another dictator, while others in the administration insist on Bush's "seven freedoms" plan for democracy, none of these suggestions are anything more than hearsay.
The examples continue with Afghanistan. As the Northern Alliance rolled over the Taliban with the support of U.S. air power in a matter of days, and sometimes only hours, policy-makers were running around frantically trying to convince the warlords to slow down and not set up their own revenge government in Kabul. It seems no one in Washington had even considered the possibility that (gasp!) U.S. flying gunships and fighter jets might obliterate the Taliban's stinger missile cavalry almost immediately. The aftermath of the fall of the Taliban was ad hoc at best, chaotic at worst. Since then U.S., British and other allied forces have limited their role to securing the capital of Kabul, while leaving the dry Afghan countryside as an uncontrolled desert of lawlessness where remnants of Al Qaeda are able to take cover. No attempt at nation-building has been made, and it appears that no such endeavor is in the works.
What is the danger of nation-building? Is it the possibility of an open-ended commitment of troops to act as policemen in an infant state system? If so, is that really so terrible? America is by far the strongest, most generous and benevolent nation in the world. Why not act like it? Sure, nation-building will likely involve long term troop commitments, but in the end an ally will be born. A nation built will be a nation of friends. Why dismiss that?