Letters to the Editor


Submitted Letters:

I'd like to focus on Marc Lispi's claim that if you're the kind of person who cares about lots of people having a meaningful life, then this war isn't for you.

I'm not clear exactly on who Marc thinks will have a less meaningful life because of this war because he didn't specify. But it seems to me that more people will have a better chance at living meaningful lives because of this war. I'd like to focus on the Iraqis since they are the some people who are against the war sometimes claim to be caring about. (Of course, this isn't the only important aspect of the anti-war argument. But I think that it deserves attention.) The issue of whether or not non-Iraqis will have a better chance at having a meaningful life is an interesting one. But I won't address that in this post.

It seems probable to me that the Iraqi people have not generally been able to live happy or meaningful lives under Saddam. By all accounts that I am aware of, he has been a vicious and brutal dictator. It has been reported that he has killed hundreds of thousands of his own people, some of them with chemical weapons. He is charged with routinely torturing and killing his people for "crimes" that were not really crimes. He has supposedly had children beaten, whipped, sexually abused, electrically shocked, and deprived of food (among other things) in order to get information from their families. Some people he dislikes disappear never to return. He is allowed to make new laws on a whim.

The fact that innocent Iraqis are dying because of this war is a sad thing. It's never good when innocents die. But it is reasonable to assume that innocent Iraqis would continue to die under Saddam if we didn't continue this war. So, war or no war, innocents will die. The questions are: How many will die if we follow through with the war? How many will die (by the hands of Saddam) if we pull out now? And, of those who survive, do they have a better chance of living meaningful lives under Saddam or some, potentially, more democratic government?

Assuming that the widely available and accepted reports about Saddam's brutality are true, is it really reasonable to think that the Iraqi people would be better off in the long-term if we stopped this war now? Luka Yovetich, March 28, 2003

As the war continues to take more lives, let us consider what resolution will look like. In courting the United Nations and then acting unilaterally against the wishes of many Americans, a vast majority of Europeans, and (for the first time ever) a united Arab voice, Dubya has forces us to reexamine world justice. Saddam Hussein is an evil man, but what worries the rest of world (including Iraqi people) most is not the evil of Saddam, but the greater dangers of American force.

After September 11th, we had a choice. The world community commiserated with us, and we could have used the opportunity to create a stronger global bond. Instead, we created a war on terrorism. If we are to win this war against terrorism, we must fight the root cause of terror. "In a war on terror the key battle is for opinion. The aim is to drain the pool of angry young people wiling to die to avenge the humiliations they believe are inflicted by American power." We are losing the battles of opinion. Many people world-wide think that what the United States government is doing is wrong. We are breeding resentment throughout the Arab world and (at least Old) Europe. Diplomatic ties have been abandoned with countries that do not agree with us. Can we really afford so many enemies? Are we really so great a nation that we can thumb our noses at the rest of the world?

Our intervention in Iraq might be justified. Only time will tell. Hopefully, the casualties will be minimal and the war will be over soon. Then, I think, the real opportunity will come. Mr. Bush's actions in the past month have emasculated the United Nations. Why is there an international community if America can do whatever it wants whenever it wants even if the rest of the community disagrees with her? After the war, we will need to revisit our foreign policy. Our country was founded on the revolutionary idea that a nation should be run according to the will of its people. Should world justice be any different? What reaction does the president expect? Governing by fear is not effective in the long run. Something has got to give. With hopes for peace and resolution, I close, sincerely, Vahé Shirikijian, March 29. 2003.

post script: The quote was from an excellent article in the recent issue of The New York Review of Books. Michael Ignatieff, "Americans Abroad", The New York Review of Books, (April 10, 2003) 74-76.


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