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Letters to the editor for 8/18

August 18, 2002

Attack not best way to deal with Saddam



To the editor:

I do not want to see more intervention by the U.S. in other nations unless it is nonmilitary. I want to see the military used for defense only. How else can true peace be achieved? Peace for me implies nonviolence, unless when absolutely necessary for survival.

An invasion of Iraq, even if it were successful in toppling Saddam, is not absolutely necessary for our survival. When you factor in the potential for loss of life on both sides, some possibly innocent on the Iraqi side, there is no question in my mind that such an invasion would be a mistake. When we invade we are perpetuating the advocacy of violence, the destruction of peace, though we may have high ideals, such as the preservation of freedom.

I think such high ideals are bitterly compromised when backed by violent offensive action. It's almost like claiming you're upholding your religion by massacring those who don't follow it. The main reason for invading Iraq is not to preserve freedom in the much-oppressed country, but to make the world feel safer, knowing Saddam Hussein is no longer directing weapons of mass destruction toward anyone.

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Once Saddam is gone (if the U.S. is successful in ousting him) the U.S. will have to take the country over entirely to completely dismantle the regime. This is something that cannot and should not be done by an outside nation, much less one that is located half a world away, and with so much going against us.

Iraq has a massive army, with possibly a million men, and, of course, Iraq may have weapons of mass destruction. A U.S. invasion of Iraq is also very likely to stir up even more anti-Americanism in the Middle East. We should do all we reasonably can to avoid a repeat of Sept. 11, but not by invading Iraq.

As long as a military solution is advocated for situations like this, (don't get me wrong, I do believe a solution is needed) violence will continue to be employed as a reasonable solution. Former National Security Advisor Lawrence Eagleburger said, "I think we will show when we get attacked like this, we are terrible in our strength and in our retribution." Though we tend to glorify this kind of terror as a sign of our nation's prevailing power, the bottom line is that we are glorifying terror and revenge.

Chances are we would probably reject our government's efforts to police the world if we had all gone through half the prolonged terror many of the countries we have invaded have gone through. I'm not saying that America has caused all this terror, or hasn't sustained terror. I'm just saying that if we had all experienced war ourselves, we probably wouldn't seriously consider invading Iraq.

A military "solution" means that there will almost always be more death and destruction as a result than may be necessary, especially of innocent people killed in the crossfire. Many advocate that such "collateral damage" is in fact necessary. William Safire said in the New York Times, I agree with that "damage" is necessary, that freedom may require the sacrifice of life for a principle, but I think the mass violence that militarism employs is unnecessary. Just look at Gandhi's peaceful, nonmilitant movement in India to secure freedom for the oppressed Indian people from the British government in the first half of this century, during some of our lifetimes.

It was a massive movement, but it succeeded without violence. In fact, it succeeded because it didn't advocate violence. When the British violently attacked and killed Indians, they were only humiliated in the eyes of the world by the Indians' consistently nonviolent responses to these attacks. This nonviolent form of change coined by Gandhi inspired Martin Luther King Jr. to lead our own civil rights movement nonviolently, and this movement, as we all know, was also successful.

Therefore, the best way for the U.S. to spur change in Iraq is not through military outlets, but through its nonviolent support of a nonviolent movement in Iraq against Saddam.

This is made real to me almost every day when I hear about the never-ending Israel vs. Palestine conflict taking place not far from Iraq. Fortunately, though, it does not have to be this way. We must be idealistic in the fight against oppression and terrorism, yet we must accept the fact that there will always be terrorism. Write to your representatives and advocate nonviolence.

Matt Kugler

Hagerstown




Smithsonian missing Antietam



To the editor:

Sept. 17 marks the 140th anniversary of the Battle of Antietam - or Sharpsburg - the bloodiest battle of America's Civil War.

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