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WAR WATCH: CUTTING THROUGH THE RHETORIC : It Looks Like We're Headed for War

January 13, 1991|ESTEBAN TORRES | Rep. Esteban Torres (D-Pico Rivera) serves on the Banking, Finance and Urban Affairs Committee and chairs the Small Business subcommittee on environment and labor. The Times asked some California congressmen to interpret the course of the Persian Gulf crisis as the days count down to the Jan. 15 deadline

On my first substantive vote in the 102nd Congress, I voted for peace. My conscience is clear. I could not vote for war, not yet.

War should be our last resort, after all diplomatic and economic efforts have failed. War should be our defensive strategy, not our offensive posture.

Assuming that we win, what then? Who governs Iraq? Do we militarily install a puppet government? For how long would we have to maintain a sizeable force in the region to secure the victory? How long would our Arab friends permit our troops to remain?

Having lived through the Korean conflict and the Vietnam War, I know the high cost of war, both when we win and when we lose. In the case of Korea, our victory cost thousands of lives and billions of dollars to station U.S. troops there in perpetuity. In the case of Vietnam, our loss cost us thousands of lives and billions of dollars--much of it squandered--in a military buildup unparalleled in history.

Unfortunately, it appears as though we are, indeed, headed for a war, and there are no guarantees that it will be of a short duration. I fear that the costs in human lives and dollars will be astronomical.

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