Summit Soldier deserves our attention
I’m certainly pleased to see that Summit County’s professional Bush bashers have lost none of their predictability. The letters over the past few days using the new Summit Daily News “Summit Soldier” column to attack the President are a perfect example of the unreasoning rage that seems to seize some people when dealing with the Bush Administration and with the sources and course of our country’s policies. I particularly enjoyed the dismissal of the Summit Soldier’s observations of the situation in Iraq as mere administration propaganda; it reminds me of the classic question, “Who you gonna believe, me, or your own eyes?” I’ll choose the eyewitness on the ground, thanks.As to the re-hash of the “Bush lied us into war” accusation, we should remember that Saddam Hussein consistently refused to cooperate with United Nations inspectors and that there was substantial agreement among working level officials that the Butcher of Baghdad either had, or was working to acquire, weapons of mass destruction. This view was common to both the Clinton and Bush administrations. Subsequent interviews with Iraqis key to both chemical and nuclear programs have confirmed Saddam’s desire for these weapons, if not their existence; also, most estimates were that he would have had a considerable chemical arsenal, and perhaps one or two nuclear devices, a short while after U.N. sanctions were lifted, given that a substantial portion of the “food-for-oil” funds were being diverted to the Iraqi military and secret police.And that brings to mind a question. Which Middle East do the critics of the Bush Administration think is more in our national interest, a Middle East with only two nuclear powers, both at least nominally in our corner, or a Middle East with five nuclear powers, four of which are rabidly anti-American? After all, one can argue that our actions in Iraq forestalled the latter. On the other hand, our European friends are currently using diplomacy to try to dissuade the Iranians (one of the possible five) from proceeding with nuclear technology that can be used for weapons. Those who follow the news can judge for themselves the relative effectiveness of these two approaches.I was also nonplused by the dismissal of the historical references in “Summit Soldier.” I realize most Americans have little appreciation of history, but to think that others share this weakness is an error. In the Middle East, history is vital and the past is not only prologue, it is present. To dismiss the 1920s as irrelevant is to understand nothing of Iraq, and it is to be blind to many of the causes of current grievances – a fatal mistake. It seems to me that the “Summit Soldier” column is an opportunity to have real insights into what is happening in Iraq today, with all its ambivalences, promise and peril. This is a story that will continue to have important consequences for us, and for the West in general. It deserves our attention and a reasoned and open discussion, not dismissal, denial or diversion into a rant about imagined wrongs.
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