by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
March 19, 2003

I have had mixed feelings about the war with Iraq.  Yet Saddam does have 8,500 liters of anthrax.  Why does he have this much poison?  If he were to use it there is no question that Bill OReilly is right, a worldwide catastrophe would ensue (Daily News, March 16, 2003, Viewpoint, p. 1). 

But should we strike a nation that has not yet attacked us?  America has never done that before, in all our long history.  That is what caused me to have ambivalent feelings about this war.  

Dont get me wrong, Im an old-fashioned Reagan conservative.  But I dont think President Reagan would have taken as long as Bush did to prepare for war.  I think Reagan would have struck Baghdad quickly, shortly after 9/11, with surgical strikes, as he did with Moammar Khadhafi back in the 80s.  We havent heard from Khadhafi since!  It seems to me that President Bush waited too long, and, like his father, tried to build a coalition of nations to support us.  That hasnt worked this time, largely, I think, because Bush dithered too long after 9/11.  Pro-American emotions around the world have cooled since then.  People are just not capable of holding on to the anger and pity they felt.  After all, it has been about two years!

Reagan would have understood that, as surely as the Bushes are not capable of understanding it.  Reagans touchpoint with the American people came from visualizing the barbershop he went to as a young person.  Historians tell us that President Reagan, time and again, would call up the vision of that little barbershop out in the heartland.  He would then imagine what the men who were there for their haircuts would say.  That was his secret method of keeping in touch with Middle America.  The Bushes have no touchpoint like that.  They have lived so long in the rarefied air of Washington that they dont really know what common people think. 

My friend Mac is an eighty-six-year-old Texan.  He literally embodies the sentiments of the real Americans across our land.  Mac is like one of the old men in Reagans barbershop.  Whatever Mac says is a clear indicator of what most Americans feel about things.  Mac is unsure of this war for the same reasons I am.  I wish the President would spend a few minutes each week listening to men like Mac.  It would give him a deeper insight into what the average Joe thinks than any yes man in his cabinet could ever do. 

And I think if Mr. Bush had a connection with little guys like Mac, he wouldnt have waited so long to bomb Iraq.  If he had listened to Mac, and others from Macs GI generation (Mac was in the Army in World War II), Mr. Bush would have hauled off and struck Saddam many months ago, when pro-American (and world) sentiment were on our side. 

I believe that the United Nations, and even France, would have backed us if we had attacked Saddam early on, after 9/11.  But Bush seems to have listened to men younger than the octogenarians like Mac.  This reminds me of what Rehoboam did in Bible times: 

But he forsook the counsel of the old men, which they had given him, and consulted with the young men that were grown up with him, and which stood before him (I Kings 12:8). 

To be sure, Bush has surrounded himself with some older men, like Cheney and Rumsfeld.  But these men are not octogenarians like Mac and those men in Reagans barbershop.  They are decades younger and they, too, do not have the pulse of Americas common people in their veins.  They make their decisions in closed rooms, without any barbershop men in the back of their minds. 

So, it seems, that Bush waited far too long to start this war.  The delay gave France, Germany, Russia and China plenty of time to maneuver themselves into U.N. opposition. 

I hope this war ends quickly and cleanly.  I hope that not many of our men will be killed.  I pray that a shudder will go through the hearts of every terrorist in the world when we wipe Saddam away.  And I pray that it will make these terrorists think twice before they launch another attack like 9/11. 

We can only wait and see.  But now that the war has begun, all of us should be thinking larger thoughts, thoughts of our civilization, our allies in Britain and Australia. We should be thinking of victory for our way of life against the new evil empire in the Muslim world. 

It did not seem strange when young people of mixed race saluted the flag at our church Sunday night, and then shouted, God bless America!  God save the Queen!  It sent a shiver down my spine.  Here we are again, an isolated America, and an outnumbered Britain, standing almost alone against the worst tyranny that mankind has known since World War II. 

I am thinking tonight of a book I read on Churchill during the two weeks after he was finally given the position of Prime Minister, in May, 1940.  Hitler was already in France.  Britain was unprepared for the nightmare bombings of London that would shortly come to pass.  Historian John Lukacs tells us, 

On May 10, Churchill had become Prime Minister.  Late that afternoon, he was driven back from Buckingham Palace to the Admiralty House, where he then lived.  Behind the driver he sat with inspector W. H. Thompson, his bodyguard.  Churchill was silent.  Then Thompson thought it proper to congratulate Churchill [on becoming Prime Minister].  I only wish the position had come your way in better times, for you have an enormous task.  Tears filled Churchills eyes.  He said to Thompson: God alone knows how great it is.  I hope it is not too late.  I am very much afraid it is.  We can only do our best (Dr. John Lukacs, Five Days in London: May 1940, London: Yale University Press, 1999, pp. 5-6).

And that is my feeling tonight as I sit here alone in my study.  Earlier in the evening President Bush told us that the war was just days off.  Now, in the midnight hour, the words of Winston Churchill fill my mind, I hope it is not too late.  I am very much afraid it is.  We can only do our best. 

And never forget that Western civilization, all we have known and loved, our hearts and our homes and our future generations, hang in the balance. 

God bless you, Mr. President.  God bless you, Prime Minister Blair.  I give you my heartfelt support and prayers.  I am only a little man like Mac, my friend in Texas.  But we are with you no matter what.  God bless America!  God save the Queen!