CONGRESS | 17TH DISTRICT | As a junior at Castro Valley High School during the first Iraq War, I grew a protest beard and followed a few other knuckleheads into the quad during fifth period, chanting, “No blood for oil!”. A 14-year-old Ro Khanna, however, was writing political commentary worthy for publication in the junior edition of Foreign Policy.
Khanna’s campaign Website Thursday features a press clipping on the candidate as a young ninth-grader. The newspaper column based upon a school essay Khanna composed laid down the negatives of President George H.W. Bush’s push to invade Iraq in 1991. Americans will not put up with an economic downturn as a result of the invasion, Khanna said, nor the requisite hardships. “Will politicians keep supporting the embargo if it means raising taxes?” he wrote. “Definitely not.”
Khanna’s correct analysis was Bush would ultimately invade Iraq. “This is a war that will be brought on because of a materialistic society that evaluates only the economic aspect,” wrote Khanna. He was right, too. I got my driver’s license around the run up to the invasion and immediately saw 99-cent-a-gallon gas shoot up to $1.49 in one fell swoop.
But, some of Khanna’s detractors, today, often charge he has always been a young upstart merely looking for a seat in Congress–any seat. But this blast from the past also reveals a fascinating window into the mind of a young Khanna and what would follow.
Rep. Mike Honda is not the first entrenched Democratic congressman Khanna has mounted a challenge against. In 2004, Khanna ran against San Mateo Rep. Tom Lantos, in part, because the long-time representative voted for the second Iraq War. Khanna was only 27 and greatly outmatched by Lantos, but now we see why he was so affected by his congressman’s decision to send troops to an ill-fated conflict.
As a kid, Khanna wrote, “Every soldier’s life has a priceless monetary value. We should demand full support both militarily and economically from all other nations. We must have no doubts before engaging in war.” Twelve years later the second President Bush did not heed these words and the rest is history.