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Letters to the Editor

Terry Quinn

Sunshine patriots”These are the times that try men’s souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered. …”- Thomas Paine, Common Sense 1776Rohn Robbins called for an exit from Iraq. Too bad he wasn’t on hand around 1776, after the losses that dogged our revolutionary cause for so long. Instead of holding out at Valley Forge, Washington could have tried to cut a deal with George III. Reciting casualty lists isn’t a valid argument against war. Should Lincoln have caved in and let the Union dissolve just because of the carnage from Bull Run through Chancellorsville? Should Churchill have sued for peace with Hitler after Dunkirk and the fall of France? The war in Iraq is worth the lives lost if it serves an important interest of the United States. Robbins flatly states there were no weapons of mass destruction. How he came by this insight is not revealed. He says, think back a year ago. I say, think back over the past 10 years. Even Saddam Hussein admitted to having WMD. The U.N. and most observers agreed, which is why we insisted on sending in teams to determine whether the WMDs had been destroyed. Not whether they had ever existed. That destruction was never verified, because Saddam interfered with the U.N. inspectors. Why did he interfere, if there were no WMDs in Iraq? I don’t know what happened to those WMDs. The Clinton administration bombed Iraq for four days in 1998, attempting to wipe them out. They could be buried somewhere in Iraq. Maybe they were sent to places like Syria. The final account remains to be written.I believe that the evidence so far shows that President Bush had a reasonable basis to believe that there were still WMDs in Iraq. In his latest book, Bob Woodward says that when the president expressed skepticism, CIA Director George Tenet emphatically affirmed that it was a “slam dunk” that we would find WMDs in Iraq. A president relies on his advisers. In the face of these assurances, wouldn’t Bush have been remiss if he declined to take action?

It is disappointing that we have not been able to find out for sure what happened to those WMDs. But we need to clear this issue up before we can consider leaving that area.There is a valid point that we shouldn’t try to impose our values and practices on others, if enough of those others are not receptive. Robbins says it’s “axiomatic” that “foreign occupations never work.” He offers a selective list of examples.How about successful instances, like Germany and Japan after World War II, when we were able to facilitate conversion of their governments from totalitarian regimes to democratic systems? We occupied the Phillipines, and helped them along the path to independence and popular-based government. It remains to be seen if there is enough support in Iraq for government based on more humane principals. The press doesn’t tell us much about what is going on in most if that country, only where there’s trouble. Thomas Friedman cites an encouraging example in this Sunday’s column in The New York Times. There was a large demonstration in Najaf by Shiites opposed to the religious fanatic Mokata al-Sadr. Friedman got it right this time: “I am a big believer that what a culture or society deems to be shameful or illegitimate is the most important restraint on how its people behave. It takes a village. But it also takes a silent majority to act.” In other words, how many true soldiers and patriots are there in Iraq?Terry QuinnEagle


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