The Orange County equivalent of two million Germans marching through Berlin streets in opposition to George W. Bush's Iraqi war plans occurred in Irvine last week. That's when the Orange County Business Journal—the paper of choice among OC's power conservatives—opined that invading and occupying Iraq was a big mistake.
"We believe it is a mistake strategically, morally and economically," wrote editors Michael Lyster and Rick Reiff. "It will make it harder, not easier, to combat terrorism. A war will further destabilize the Middle East and Persian Gulf, fuel resentment toward the U.S., and weaken our standing with longtime allies. It will make the world less, not more, safe."
To find out more about the editors' feeling that the "war is likely to produce a quick victory at a terrible price," we talked with Lyster and Reiff.
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OC Weekly: So why'd you guys come out against the war? Lyster: Rick and I don't always agree—I'm a little more moderate than he is—but we agree on this. The editorial is self-indulgent, but we realized that war would have as big an impact on Orange County as the budget crisis in Sacramento or things like that. We also wanted to start debate, and that's always a worthy goal. Reiff: You know, this is an issue I've been observing as a news guy for a long time. I was kind of surprised that some of my ideological fellow travelers share my views that the Bush administration's case for war has been so transparent. Now, I'm not giving liberals much credit because Congress has just supported the president. I'm amazed how little the political leadership has spoken out. Lyster: We both agree the case for war hasn't been made. Our readers are rational people. If they look at it, they won't have trouble connecting the dots. We're not defenders of Saddam Hussein. We just argue whether a war with Iraq will help with the war on terrorism. What kind of response have you gotten?Reiff: It's been overwhelmingly positive. We've gotten a dozen letters so far. I have an off-the-cuff estimate that it takes 200 angry people to write one letter. They've all been positive, except for one that was hard to tell and one canceling the paper. So does that mean 200 people just canceled their subscriptions?Reiff: What? You said it takes 200 angry people for one to write in. Does that mean 200 . . .Reiff: Uh, I hope not. You can read the OCBJ editorial at www.ocbj.com.