The game is up. The Bush administration has shown its hand. And it’s a loser.

There is no reasonable case for an American war against Iraq. Yes, Saddam Hussein is a vile, vicious dictator. Yes, there is some reason to believe that he still has some capability to use chemical weapons (though no indication of nuclear ones). But is that reason for the United States of America to risk thousands of lives (American and Iraqi), spend billions of dollars, and sack the U.S. economy when the problem could be addressed by a concerted United Nations effort? Of course not.

Unless … there’s something else afoot. Something that the Bush administration and most mainstream media aren’t talking about. It’s not just oil, though that’s certainly a factor. There can be no doubt that the United States would love to control the second-largest oil reserves on the planet–particularly since the largest is in the hands of the Saudis, who dominate OPEC. They’re our allies now–but so was Saddam Hussein once upon a time.

The inescapable conclusion is that Iraq isn’t about just about oil, isn’t mainly about terrorism, but is about taking advantage of the United States’ role as the sole, surviving superpower. The goal is to establish an American empire with military and political outposts strategically placed around the globe. That’s the plan Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz put forward in their September 2000 blueprint for a group calling itself “Project for the New American Century.”

Some big thinking magazines have written about it, including The New York Times Magazine in a cover story titled, “The American Empire.” “Ever since George Washington warned his countrymen against foreign entanglements, empire abroad has been seen as the republic’s permanent temptation and its potential nemesis,” wrote Michael Ignatieff. “Yet what word but ’empire’ describes the awesome thing that America is becoming?” But it’s nowhere in the discussion of whether we should be going to war with Iraq. What does it mean? Is this something that most Americans want?

Before we can even come up with an answer, the republic needs to have at least as much discussion about empire-building as it’s had about health care or campaign finance reform. In the meantime, this war is not the way to do it. The cost is unacceptable. If you agree, now is the time to stand up and be counted. It’s not too late. Look in today’s issue for ways you can speak out.

Due to computer glitches, some stories in last week’s issue of The Independent weren’t as legible as they should have been. We apologize and are working with our printer on the problem. In the meantime, if you had trouble reading last week’s cover story on the Sundance Film Festival, look for it on the Web at: And to read Bob Geary’s CitiZen column, go to:

Sorry for the difficulties. See you at the State Capitol on Saturday.