President Bush, Where's the Beef?

Monday, September 08, 2003



Does anyone remember the 1984 presidential primaries? In the Democratic primaries, then Vice President, Walter Mondale, asked his leading opponent, Democratic Senator, Gary Hart, "Where's the beef?"

The line mimicked a hamburger chain commercial that was popular at the time. The hamburger chain showed people walking into their competitors stores and requesting a burger. Upon receipt, the consumer would open the bun, look at the thin slice of meat or the mounds of sauce and lettuce and ask, "Where's the beef?"

The advertisement challenged consumers to consider that the competitors were short changing them. Mondale used the phrase to indicate that Gary Hart's ideas lacked substance.

Last night, President George Bush suggested that Iraq is the center of the war on terrorism. My question to President Bush is "Where's the beef?"

The war in Iraq was officially declared over in May of 2003. Where is the evidence of the weapons of mass destruction that justified the use of pre-emptive force in the first place? Where are the terrorist training camps or evidence of Iraqi links to Al Queda that justify calling Iraq the center of the war on terror? For that matter, where are Saddam Hussein or Osama Bin Laden? Why aren't the Iraqi people celebrating their resent liberation, instead of continuing to resist American occupation (and would Americans do any different if foreign invaders occupied our nation after destroying our infrastructure)?

Mr. President, where's the beef?

With all of this lack of substance, the president still feels confident going to the American people to ask for additional funding and more time than his administration ever communicated in the past. He is now asking for international support from countries that opposed the war, even as he still feels confident calling all people opposed U.S. policy terrorists. Somehow, he does not see the diplomatic contradictions in this approach to requesting help.

Mr. President, where's the beef?

It is hard not to say "I told you so."

Those of us who opposed the war from the start warned of many of these issues. We asked for evidence of WMDs and terrorist links stating that pre-emptive war is unjust without strong evidence of immanent threat. We asked repeatedly what had changed between 1991 and 2003. We were told we simply had to trust the administration. We are being told once again that Iraq is central to the war on terror.

Mr. President, where's the beef?

We suggested that a multi-lateral United Nations approach would be better received than a U.S. dominated nearly unilateral invasion. The Pope, himself criticized President Bush on this count. We warned that the only proper authority to declare a war aimed at enforcing United Nations resolutions is the United Nations itself. For the United States to act alone is akin to Texas declaring war on Mexico without the support of the rest of the States. Now the President is requesting support from the international community, but still wants the show to be run by his office by a dominate presence of U.S. troops.

Mr. President, where's the beef?

We warned that the complex task of nation building would be far more expensive and require a far greater commitment of time than President Bush suggested. We pointed out that a just war demands a reasonable chance of success, and in this case, success must be defined as stabilizing the region. The region cannot be stable with a country left in the tatters of shock and awe. We warned that attacking Iraq without a plan for nation building was morally reprehensible and would leave the United States vulnerable to further terrorism, and the president is implying we may have been right. Even with this admission of the need to rebuild, the President is suggesting that most of the newly requested funding is for military use.

Mr. President, where's the beef?

In Was the War in Iraq a Just War?, I walked through the principles of Roman Catholic just war teaching and demonstrated that the war in Iraq was not just. The Holy Father indicated the same prior to the war, as did Prefect for the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the faith, Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger, and the U.S. Catholic Conference of Bishops. Most Protestant and Orthodox religious leaders agreed that the war did not meet just war criteria or Biblical principles or any rational ethical principles known in our Western traditions. Even President Bush's own religious leaders criticized his stance. It seems to me to be very obvious that the war in Iraq is unjust if there exist such a thing as a just war.

Mr. president, where's the beef?

I say "if there exist such a thing as a just war" because I believe that Christ was the earliest proponent of active non-violent resistance to evil, and he offered in his words and deeds an alternative to war. Christ teaches us to love our enemies and to pray for mercy and blessings upon them. If we love our enemies, we do not seek to kill them. Rather, we actively seek to relate to them in new and creative ways, even when they seek to do us harm. Christ showed us his willingness to love his enemies even unto death. A Christian must be willing to lay down her or his life in the effort to build a better relationship with an enemy. Are we really willing to be followers of Christ?

Where's the beef?

We are not to run from conflict. Jesus was often the center of controversy. We are not to passively allow oppression occur without standing up for the oppressed. Rather, we are to stand up to worldly powers even when our lives are threatened, picking up our cross to stop injustice even when it means a loss of life. It is the path Christ taught the martyrs, and it continued into the era of the modern world in the likes of Martin Luther King Junior and Ghandi.

Here's the beef!

Personally, I wish President Bush were asking for $87 billion entirely for food, water, medical supplies, and education material to the Iraqi people. I wish he were asking for international humanitarian support. I wish the United States would stop terrorism by removing every conceivable excuse for committing terror against us. We would do this by being the least threatening nation on earth and by using our wealth only to benefit others. I know this sounds incredibly idealistic. Perhaps it even sounds naive. However, it is the path trod by the one whom we claim to be the Son of the Living God!

And to the other solutions being played out, I continue to ask, "Where's the beef?"

Peace and Blessings!

P.S. Don't forget to pray for peace: Prayers for Peace

Readers may contact me at


posted by Jcecil3 3:12 PM

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