"In Baghdad, Many Insist Americans Would Regret an Invasion" (Dec. 30) is a very powerful message. For one, it puts a very human face on what most Americans see as an obscure, alien Arab population, but whose people emerge as intelligent and very human members of an ancient civilization. For another, it reminds us that human beings do not welcome being invaded by foreign military forces. "Palestinian Towns Wobbling on Last Legs" (Dec. 30) further reminds us that meeting force with greater force does not work. It only entrenches hatred. What we need, especially in the Bush administration, is a rare human quality called wisdom.
Re "Take Time to Question Rush to War," Commentary, Dec. 30: John Manley's argument proposes that the U.S. misunderstands the great attack of 9/11 and that we are being "goaded into war by hopeless fanatics." It is wrong from the start, because it assumes that the administration is rushing to war, which is not shown to be the case in Bob Woodward's extraordinary new book, "Bush at War," a detailed study of the administration's first 100 days after 9/11. Rather, the preparations are long, painstaking and deliberate.
Manley thinks there may be "peaceful answers in the Middle East and elsewhere." Indeed, there may be ... but he has forgotten Israel in the Middle East, or deliberately masked the whole history of the Arabs and Israel during the 20th century. He is in truth suggesting the abandonment of Israel to its fate. Given that Israel can bring down the Middle East, if left to that fate, Manley is not thinking very clearly about the situation we face today.
Everyone knows that Saddam Hussein is, as Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) so beautifully put it, "a uniquely despicable" person. Is he not guilty of hubris of the worst kind, building luxury palaces one after another while his people suffer and children die for lack of medical attention? Worse, did he not gas his own people by the thousands, apparently without batting an eye? Why go on with the litany of horrors?
But turning to our own shores: In his determination to send his fellow citizens to fight (an activity that he and his two closest hawkish buddies managed to sidestep when they had their chance) and die in Iraq, is not President Bush proving himself only slightly less "uniquely despicable" than the ogre of Baghdad?
Richard F. Cassady
Re "N. Korea Shows Its Bluster Is No Bluff," Dec. 29: Now that its leaders have basically announced a recommencement of production of weapons of mass destruction, presumably President Bush will soon announce that a regime change is also mandated for North Korea.
While he is at it, all the other countries with WMD -- certainly those that disagree with our president's foreign policy -- might also be added to the list slated for compulsory regime changes. Why stop with only one or two?
William H. Naumann
Vice President Dick Cheney, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and the Bush Texas oilers want war on Iraq so they can replenish those old dry wells and have a place to pump for cash and profits. Yet the mad dog in North Korea gets kid-glove treatment when he's a proven warmonger with nukes and now making more. Besides this, do we ever see anything of Al Qaeda, the real enemy? The economy is going to pot on a Popsicle stick, our health care is the joke of the Third World, let alone Europe, and our education programs are designed for the rich kids only. Bush, I'm sure, believes that prayers make scientists.
Gerhard W. Orthuber