Re "As an ally, we're our own worst enemy," Opinion, Nov. 22
Max Boot's argument that Iraqis are unwilling to fight for the U.S.-backed government because of our history of abandoning friends is a ludicrous misinterpretation. He falsely states that we did nothing about the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia and Poland. The truth is that we started selling arms. Boot is wrong on Vietnam. We lost that conflict when we stabbed Vietnamese leader Ho Chi Minh (our World War II ally) in the back and supported France's efforts to recolonize Indochina. The Contras in Nicaragua weren't fighting an "oppressive" regime. They were captained by and initially manned by former soldiers of the Anastasio Somoza dictatorship, which is the definition of an oppressive regime. Boot's take on history is just that -- a take. He consistently rewrites and reinterprets history to make it fit his neoconservative ideology.
I rarely agree with Boot's far-right rantings, but in this instance, he is absolutely correct. The United States has a mixed record of supporting its allies. (Admittedly, in his article, Boot fails to mention our few modest successes, such as defending the Allied governments in World War I and World War II and the South Korean government from North Korean invasion in 1951.) However, counter to his own intentions, his argument only proves that although American military force is great at defeating organized armies in symmetrical combat, there's little we -- or anyone else, for that matter -- can do when it comes to propping up unpopular governments under attack from their own people. Fellow right-winger Rush Limbaugh has characterized the purpose of a military as "to kill people and break things." He too is right. We cannot use military power to build or to persuade. It's a lesson we failed to learn in Vietnam, and it is one our leaders have yet to learn when it comes to Iraq.
ALLEN B. URY
The only thing we learn from history is that we don't really learn from history. In his shameless attempt to keep us mired in the Iraqi bloodbath, Boot spends a lot of space to rationalize U.S. wartime failures and mistakes as a problem of perseverance. Had Boot really wanted to look a bit deeper, perhaps he would have found what history has been really trying to teach us over and over: We should not have gone in the first place.