A CASE FOR MILITARY ACTION - The Discussion Continues


Dear Tony,

I appreciate your responding to my concerns in a recent opinion I had submitted to the Herald. In it you made some assertions and issued some challenges that I now wish to address.

First of all, you asserted that my watching CNN to keep abreast of world affairs was somewhat lacking and might not be the best way to accomplish that task. I had indicated to you that I watched all cable news networks, not just CNN. You might try it sometime, if you are truly looking for balance. There is very lively debate on shows such as Crossfire, Hannity and Colmes, The O'Reilly Factor, etc. I also read any and all articles in a variety of newspapers, magazines, and on the web. I think we should stick to the issues on which we differ, not on what we might perceive of the other's knowledge base. By the way, I think your statements were sarcastic.

Your discussion of providing an alternative viewpoint to Secretary of State Colin Powell's presentation to the UN Security Council is interesting. You say that members of Congress and the news media should have stepped up and provided this viewpoint, but were deathly silent. I wonder why? Could it be they simply accepted the presentation as presented? They obviously did not see a need to do so. You even chastise two nationally prominent newspaper journalists for being persuaded by Mr. Powell's presentation, and publishing articles to that effect. You indicate they should have spent additional time to verify the veracity of Mr. Powell's presentation, but I suspect if they had lampooned the Powell position in their articles, you would have been quite pleased with their assertions. As to the polls of American opinions, you again attached UN approval to the numbers I presented; that was inaccurate. The percentages were with, or without, UN approval. Those percentages are now approaching 60% of the American people favoring military action to disarm and remove Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq; this particular poll being done this week by the New York Times.

It was not my intent to infer your assertions were taken out of thin air. I am sure you are quite knowledgeable of world affairs, and I have no interest in the sources of information you derive that knowledge from. Again, it is the positions you take that I have differences. I fully support your rights to express your positions on any of these matters. As to examining your sources for the statements you made, and being obliged to change my mind, or position, I have read the articles you referenced. I have not changed my mind! I accept that there is evidence the United States sold materials to Iraq that could be used in developing chemical and biological weapons. The fact of the matter is that Iraq has not used this technology as a deterrent like other countries that possess it, but rather has used it on its own people. I also tend to accept the assertion of the babies being taken from incubators in the 1st Persian Gulf conflict as being false. It should be noted, however, that it was Kuwait who hired the firm that apparently fabricated that story.

You ask if I simply ignore the positions of the Pope and the National Council of Churches? I, of course, do not. I am a Christian, and I understand the tenets of my faith. However, we do not live in a world that is governed by those principles, and certainly the leader of Iraq does not. Religious organizations take positions they perceive are correct, and I applaud their right to do so. The world has already turned its cheek 70 times 7, and it is now time to remove the threat and liberate the people of Iraq.

You take issue with my saying you defended a ruthless dictator like Saddam Hussein, while attacking the integrity of every member of the leadership team of our country. Yes, I said the leadership team of our country, not merely the Bush administration. If America goes to war, it will be America at war, not just the Bush administration. You fail to mention anywhere that in October 2002, Congress debated and passed overwhelmingly, a resolution giving authority to the executive branch to disarm Iraq, with or without the support of the United Nations. The resolution also asked the administration to seek the support of the UN, as it has done. I think any rational person reading your column would make the same assumption as I did regarding the defending of Saddam Hussein, even if by implication only. You have presented no evidence to support your labeling our President, Vice-President, Mr. Rumsfeld, Mr. Perle, and Mr. Wolfowitz, as unabashed imperialists. You do this because they do not share your view of foreign policy. You continue to say they are willing to kill thousands and thousands of people in this imperialist action. I get a little tired of those who oppose this war claiming they are the only ones who care about the sanctity of human life. Where is their concern for the brutality that has existed in Iraq in which Saddam Hussein's regime has killed an estimated 100,000 of its own people? I believe that both sides of this issue share a deep concern for lives that may be lost; that issue should not be part of the debate.

Where in the world do you get the information that says America is about to use radioactive depleted uranium munitions on the people of Iraq? Also, any number of casualties that might occur is conjecture. Remember the numbers thrown around before the 1st Persian Gulf action turned out to be astronomically high. How are you so positive these casualties will be mostly women and children? These statements make good sound bites, but at this time, that is all they are. Our laser and GPS guided munitions are extremely more accurate than anything ever seen, and many times more accurate than in the first military action against Iraq.

You say I read your article incorrectly when I asserted you didn't support the ejection of Iraq from Kuwait in 1991. I made that assertion from the central point in your column that you say I ignored. That action did not meet the requirements for war you laid out in that statement, therefore you must have been against our involvement in it. You cannot have it both ways.

I did not ignore what you say is the central point of your column-that an attack on another nation that has neither attacked nor threatened to attack us is immoral and indefensible. Does that also apply to our bombing of Belgrade in the 1990's to get rid of the brutal Slobodan Milosevic? That action did not have UN approval. I also agreed with that action. I do take issue with that being the central theme of the column; it may have been your intention, but the political attacking of the Bush administration was clearly what was central. Also, do not forget that if war occurs in Iraq, it will be the sole responsibility of Saddam Hussein. He has been ordered to disarm by the United Nations Security Council Resolution #1441, and 16 others. He has not done so in 12 years, and it is obvious he has no plans to do so. Not one Iraqi has to die! It is Hussein's decision, not ours. The idea of attacking to prevent an attack is nothing new. Ironically on September 11, 1941, prior to Pearl Harbor and before war being declared, President Roosevelt ordered aggressive patrolling by the U.S. Navy against German submarines in the North Atlantic. He said, "Do not let us split hairs. Let us not say, 'We will only defend ourselves if the torpedo succeeds in getting home, or if the crew and the passengers are drowned.' This is the time for prevention of attack".

I do not believe Colin Powell lied to the UN Security Council! You say when you are convinced you have the truth; it's hard to end up with it. I contend you were convinced he lied from the beginning, and set out to prove that assertion. You did not wind up with the truth. It is not fathomable that as much opposition as France has presented on this issue that they would not have exposed these lies immediately. You have accepted evidence the Iraqis presented; do you think they were going to show these reporters the actual building Mr. Powell showed pictures of?

In conclusion, I am not disgusted with genuine discussion of the issues that have caused many of us to differ with each other on the merits of this conflict. I applaud the peaceful dissent of our people, and I in no way think they are unpatriotic. It is also quite shallow to place all blame on strained relations with allies upon our country; I would contend that had planes flown into their buildings and military headquarters, they might be less inclined to put up with the threat of Iraq providing their weapons of mass destruction to terrorists. My disgust was at the "Blame America First" tone and tenor of the column. You spent very little time discussing what you portend to be the central theme of your column, and instead spent the vast majority bashing America and its leadership. Let's spend time discussing the central issues of this debate; are Iraq and its weapons of mass destruction, and the possibility of providing them to terrorists a threat to the United States? Is war a viable response to disarm and remove Saddam Hussein? I think the column strayed from the stated central theme.

Roger Propst

Editors Note: See earlier Opinions & Comment

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