I’m writ­ing this let­ter to you in hopes that you can help, because it cer­tainly doesn’t seem like any­one else can.

When you were pres­i­dent, I didn’t agree with some of the things you did; but I never felt the kind of gen­uine con­cern for the future of this nation that I do now, with your son in the Oval Office.

Mr. Bush, I urge you to con­tact George and have a long, earnest talk with him about … well, about any­thing you like, really, but some­where in the course of that con­ver­sa­tion, would you please remind him that this is a nation that is increas­ingly united in its cer­tainty that Iraq is a mistake.

We’re still not sure what to do about it. People like me think we need to swell our occu­py­ing force by at least ten times what George is rec­om­mend­ing and pre­pare for an occu­pa­tion that will be mea­sured in decades; oth­ers believe we should with­draw as soon as we can. But no one seri­ously believes another 21,500 sol­diers is going to have a sig­nif­i­cant, favor­able effect — except, appar­ently, Condoleezza Rice and your son.

Mr. Bush, this sit­u­a­tion is seri­ous. While our forces remain bogged down in Iraq, we are los­ing con­trol in Afghanistan and North Korea is actively rat­tling its lit­tle atomic saber. In the vac­uum of US diplo­matic lead­er­ship, the sit­u­a­tion between Israel and Palestine is essen­tially a roller-​​coaster; and Iran and Syria are now begin­ning to jump on the anti-​​US dogpile.

It’s my belief that George has made the mis­take of assum­ing the US can and should act uni­lat­er­ally, rather than engag­ing the UN and ask­ing for the help of our (largely for­mer) allies. I know, and you do as well, that it’s dif­fi­cult to admit to being wrong, par­tic­u­larly pub­licly; but every­one except George seems to know that he’s backed us into an unten­able cor­ner. Please, Mr. Bush, try to explain to him how much bet­ter he’ll feel, how much more soundly he will sleep at night, after con­fess­ing to his mis­take and mak­ing amends for it.

We are a very for­giv­ing nation, when offered a hum­ble apol­ogy; but we tend to pun­ish hubris very harshly.

There are lots of wild rumors out there regard­ing why George seems to be so set on ignor­ing the clear desires of the peo­ple of the US, and oth­ers are now cir­cu­lat­ing about his appar­ent gung-​​ho will­ing­ness to engage Iran (as well as, pos­si­bly, Syria) in a fight that sim­ply won’t suc­ceed. The Nazis col­lapsed partly because they were fight­ing a war on three fronts. How many more bat­tle lines does George plan to draw for us? I’m fairly cer­tain — as are most Americans and many of our foes — that our mil­i­tary can­not afford another fight right now.

Mr. Bush, my great­est con­cern is that your son, who claims to be a born-​​again Christian, sin­cerely believes in the bizarre escha­tol­ogy of right-​​wing fun­da­men­tal­ist fanat­ics; that is, he sin­cerely believes in the truth of Revelation, the inevitabil­ity of Armageddon and the return of Jesus Christ to earth. If he does believe these things are pos­si­ble, then my fear rises that he thinks he is pre­cip­i­tat­ing that very return by the actions he is tak­ing now. By engag­ing the Middle East in a mul­ti­front war, he doesn’t see that the human mis­ery and suf­fer­ing — as well as the desta­bi­liza­tions which might take cen­turies to resolve — will not lead to some kind of “rap­ture” or the descent of any sort of god from the clouds. So please, Mr. Bush, explain to him that the con­se­quences of his being wrong are sig­nif­i­cant enough that — even if he’s totally sure of him­self — he really can­not afford to con­tinue as he has been.

Because, in ten years’ time, when his lit­tle god hasn’t returned, he will drink him­self into com­plete stu­pid­ity, and prob­a­bly end up shoot­ing him­self in the head in shame. I’m sure you don’t want that to hap­pen to him, and the only way to pre­vent it is to con­vince him now that his religiously-​​driven course of action is sim­ply the wrong one.

Mr. Bush, for the sake of this nation, the nations in the Middle East, and the lives of mil­lions which will be lost if George con­tin­ues to have his way, I ask you to con­vince your son that he needs to learn the val­ues of speak­ing softly, lis­ten­ing atten­tively, and behav­ing with humility.

Thank you.


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