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Open Letter to Speaker Pelosi

Dear Speaker Pelosi,

The Democrats' reaction to the war in Iraq has been bitterly disappointing. Instead of taking some type of drastic action, you passed legislation you knew George Bush would veto, merely worsening the paralysis of war. In a matter this urgent, couldn't the Democrats at least have gotten up the courage to threaten a shutdown of Congress as the Republicans have done in recent years? Or could you not have started impeachment proceedings against Bush, as the Republicans did against Clinton? Surely this war and Bush's deceptions in marketing it are infinitely graver matters, are they not?

If Democrats are afraid to sink to the Republican's level (which you are perilously close to anyhow, when it comes to making war), you might at least have considered following some notable historical precedents. For example, when Woodrow Wilson was dragging America into World War I despite widespread opposition, progressives like the Wisconsin's senator Fightin' Bob LaFollette actually attempted to pass legislation to put the decision to go to war on a national referendum. A bold move that failed, but at least a principled rebellion against the kind of warmongering and the abuse of power that Bush resorts to today.

So it now appears that we will be bogged down in Iraq for an indefinite period. Worse yet, the Bush administration is talking openly about remaining there as we have in Korea. Of course the situation in Iraq is so different from the end of the Korean War that the analogy is as ludicrous as comparison between Saddam and Hitler that was used as a justification for invading Iraq in the first place. We would not be remaining as defenders from invasion, as in Korea, but as invaders. Indeed a difficult position to maintain.

But as you well know, it is not simply George Bush who wants to stay in Iraq. There are also many people of good will who fear that withdrawal might lead to even more chaos, destruction, and murder. This is why the situation cries out for a drastic change of direction, for a dynamic action that will allay these legitimate fears while enabling us to leave Iraq honorably at the same time.

How to do this? We must admit we were dreadfully wrong. We must acknowledge to the world and to the Iraqi people that the invasion of Iraq was unnecessary, immoral, and unjustified.
Then we should then do what other countries guilty of unjustified war have done. We should to attempt to make amends and at least partially compensate for the thousands of deaths and immense and the vast physical and psychological that results from war. We should do this by offering to PAY WAR REPARATIONS. (As Iraq itself, by the way, is expected to pay Kuwait.)

A sincere acknowledgement of our wrongdoing and an offer to redress the harm done would quite probably be the quickest way to regain the good will of the world and to reduce the level of anger.

We should offer reparations of at least $200 billion, to be administered by the United Nations and distributed over a one-year period. This should be combined with reconstruction package of $200 billion to be dispersed over a 5-year period. The reparations should be paid DIRECTLY TO EACH INDIVIDUAL FAMILY, not channeled through any Iraqi or U.S. government agency. These reparations should be paid out ONLY ON THE CONDITION THAT ALL HOSTILITIES CEASE AND ALL IRAQIS IN EXILE ARE ALLOWED SAFE RETURN TO THEIR COUNTRY. Payments should not be dispersed until all hostilities cease. If hostilities resume, all payments, both to individuals and reconstruction operations, should be suspended.

Of course the first question that arises is "Will such a proposal work?” What we are doing clearly does not. Simply withdrawing will leave behind a destroyed and embittered nation that will continue to be an incubator for terrorism, as was predicted when we allowed Bush to begin this war. It is impossible to imagine that the situation would get any worse if we made reparations, and human nature being what it is, there is a reasonable chance that given the economic incentive to lay down arms and the means to recover and rebuild, Iraq could revive as a peaceful nation.

The second objection that would undoubtedly arise is that  "this is too costly." But what we are doing threatens to cost even more, not merely for just continuing to finance the military presence we now have there, but to pay the future costs of dealing with the vastly increased terrorism, unrest, disruption of oil supplies for the foreseeable future.

We have already wasted $400 billion in Iraq, and will spend billions more in caring for the disabled veterans of this war and bearing the costs of their lost productivity. Instead of pumping more money into destruction, let us spend it for reconstruction and helping rehabilitate the millions of lives and families we have shattered.

I urge you to act now and begin the process of legislating the Iraq War Reparations Act.

If you would like to see a more detailed discussion of this proposal and related ideas, see


Bob Schildgen



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