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War not the answer

Despite exhaustingly repeated accusations, I have never condoned Hussein’s human rights abuses. But war is an instrument of conquest. It doesn’t lead to peace and freedom, it leads to suffering and chaos (and profits for the invader). I acknowledge the serious abuses by Hussein, but war is not the answer. That has always been the premise of my letters.

Terrorism is terrorism, no matter who the perpetrator is or what their motive. Jay Pate seems to believe that terrorism is bad when performed by the wrong people for the wrong reasons, but A.O.K. when performed by the U.S. military for allegedly noble reasons. Forgetting that the U.S. government (Democrats and Republicans alike) tolerated and encouraged Hussein’s human rights abuses for decades (as they still tolerate brutal regimes elsewhere), Pate relies on selective propaganda for his pseudo-compassionate defense of the ruination of Iraq.

Ask who’s more qualified to report on the conditions and attitudes of Iraqis. Did Pate visit prewar Iraq? Does he know anyone in Iraq personally? Does he know anything other than what he gets from the U.S. media and what he can scrounge from the Internet?

Mr. Pate’s ignorance is evident in erroneous statements such as: “Iraq’s electricity output and water supply are above prewar levels.” I was in Baghdad in January 2003, and we had electricity 22 hours a day, now there is only 12. The water supply, its flow and sanitation controlled by intermittent power, is also below prewar levels. The United States could greatly ease the Iraqi’s suffering if they would just fix what it broke.

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There were not “millions of Kurds and Shiites (and Sunnis) who were brutalized,” etc. etc. “at the hands of Saddam Hussein.” The number was about 300,000. These were mainly political and ideological opponents, Islamic fundamentalists and Kurdish nationalists, not random civilians (that doesn’t make it OK, just keeps it in perspective). Hussein prevented Islamist domination and public opposition through terror and violence. Just as the U.S. military is doing now.

Amal was not “a member of Hussein’s preferred demographic.” She was raised Shi’a, and is married to a Sunni. Neither was a member of the Ba’ath party, which made them both a target of oppression by Hussein’s regime. They’re glad Hussein is gone, and so am I. He should be tried by the International Court for his human rights abuses (just before Bush et al are tried for their war crimes).

Finally to Jay’s question: “On balance and in the long run, is the average Iraqi ‘better off’ under Hussein ” or under a democratic, sanctions-free, religiously tolerant, liberty-oriented governing body?” Of course, the latter. But attack, invasion, occupation, destabilization, political manipulation, and suppressing opposition with violence is no way to achieve that goal, and is not guaranteed of success. More likely it will lead to civil war, and the establishment of an undemocratic, religiously intolerant, oppressive governing body, not to mention a whole new crop of America-hating terrorists.

War is not the answer! And if it is, maybe we’re asking the wrong questions.

Sue Gray

Carbondale


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