Concerning Bob Dole on Iraq

Jan 20, 1991

To the Editor,

Thirty years ago, when I was in grade school, my Grandfather told me words to this effect: You can't trust Democrats. The only Democrat I ever voted for was Woodrow Wilson because he promised to keep us out of war and look what happened. My Grandfather was a rock, ribbed, conservative, isolationist, Kansas Republican. But as soon as we were at War with the Kaiser's Germany my Grandfather, then 30, gave up his job as a school principal and enlisted. He went on to win a Congressional Medal for his small part in the war. I've always enjoyed life's apparent ironies. Even though he opposed the war, my Grandfather was also very much a "my country right or wrong" Republican. Its a view I myself am less enamored of.

I particularly enjoy Senate Minority leader Bob Dole's role in passing the vote for our current war. You see, Senator Dole is a Kansas Republican very much in my Grandfather's mold. I particularly recall his most enduring contribution to the Republican party. In 1976, as the running mate for my steady but uninspiring Presidential choice, Gerald Ford, Dole all but torpedoed Ford's campaign. He did it in a debate with his Vice Presidential rival, Minnesota Senator Walter Mondale. Dole blamed every American war this century on the Democrats who controlled the Presidency at the start of each war. Americans did not like this accusation and Dole proved to be a greater liability to Ford than Dan Quayle has been to Bush.

Thank you Senator Dole! You have helped tarnish the Republican's perfect peace record before the Twentieth Century could run its course. I'll grant that isolationism is an impractical foreign policy but it has its points. Where was our Pearl Harbor? Where was our Lusitania? Where was our "Remember the Maine?" Sure Kuwait is another "Belgium" but the original Belgium didn't prompt us to war.

There will be a strong temptation to equate criticism of this war with abandonment of our troops. Yes it did happen in Vietnam. As a protester against American foreign policy back then I was as angered as any patriot, by reports of protesters spitting on returning troops. Each of those troops could have been my Grandfather or my Father each of whom returned from their own wars.

What galls me as much as anything is the thought that ego and vanity are a much a cause of this war as the real and imagined threats and actions of the Iraqi war machine.

When this war is over I'll want to stuff any political posturing back down the throats of the politicians who got us into this mess whether they are good Yankee patriots, good Kansas Republicans or apologists for for Israel who switch sides at the drop of a scud missile.


Harry Welty
2101 E. 4th St.
Duluth, MN 55812