Nader warns war in Iraq will boost terror threat
At USC stop, consumer advocate says Bush's actions will inflame Arabs
By SAMMY FRETWELL
19 March 2003:
Consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader charged Tuesday that President Bush will increase the threat of terrorism in the United States by ordering troops to attack Iraq.
Nader, in town to speak at the University of South Carolina, said Bush had overstated the possibility of domestic terrorist attacks after Sept. 11, 2001. Nader said convictions of suspected terrorists have been scarce since the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.
But Nader said Bush will inflame parts of the Middle East against America by making war with Iraq. Many people in the Islamic world will see nightly television reports that document U.S. aggression, he said. The president's actions will destabilize the Middle East and help recruit people to the al Qaeda terrorist organization, Nader said, noting that numerous former American military experts have similar concerns.
He said there now is no link between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein, nor is there an imminent threat by Iraq to the United States.
People in the Middle East are "going to see hundreds of thousands of refugees, they're going to see civilians and children being killed, they're going to see all kinds of ethnic slaughter in terms of factions taking it out on one another, which they'll blame the United States invasion for," Nader told reporters. "It doesn't take a leap of logic .‘.‘. to conclude that this is going to increase the risk of terrorism to our country.
"President Bush, by invading Iraq unilaterally, is endangering our country."
The Bush administration has said the U.S. must attack Iraq before it threatens America and its allies. In a nationwide address Monday, Bush said taking control of Iraq would reduce the threat of terrorism.
Nader, who finished behind Bush and Democrat Al Gore in the 2000 presidential election, was at USC to talk about the war, the environment and corporate America.
He met with reporters Tuesday afternoon, before addressing an estimated crowd of 650.
During his evening speech, Nader lambasted corporations and Bush, whom he said is "power drunk." He urged students to get involved and demand change in the United States. His talk was interrupted about six times by enthusiastic applause.
Nader was to appear later Tuesday at a fund-raiser for the fledgling S.C. Green Party.
An author and longtime supporter of environmental protections and work force safety laws, Nader ran on the Green Party ticket in 2000. He told the crowd at USC he hasn't decided whether he'll make another run for the White House next year.
Nader said Bush's real motivations for war with Iraq are two-fold: revenge for the U.S. failure to get Saddam during the Gulf War and protecting oil supplies the U.S. relies on. "If Iraq was producing carrots, I don't think we'd be quite as interested," he said.
He also called Bush and key advisers "chicken hawks" and "draft dodgers," who never served in the Vietnam War.
"President Bush is a messianic militarist," Nader said.