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Cockburn on U.S. Attack on Iraq

July 10, 1993

* In response to "An Attack as American as Apple Pie," Column Left, June 29:

Following the lead of Alexander Cockburn's excellent article, I wish to express my sympathy for the people of Iraq for the unjustified missile assault. There is significant evidence that ordinary Iraqi citizens do not share the violent militaristic intentions of Saddam Hussein's totalitarian regime. The launching of 23 Tomahawk missiles of uncertain accuracy threatened the citizens far more than the dictator.

The foiled plot against President Bush does not require a response commensurate with an actual assassination. Criminals guilty of only conspiracy to murder don't deserve the death penalty, do they?


Pacific Palisades

* I'm breaking my firm resolve not to respond to Column Left's frequent contributor, Alexander Cockburn, but I can't stand it any longer. What I can't stand is The Times continuing to provide this charlatan valuable commentary space that could otherwise be used by thoughtful and truly concerned critics who have constructive alternatives to problems of great moment. After two years of waiting to see if Cockburn would offer alternative suggestions to events that merit inspection from across the political spectrum, I have to conclude that he is merely a reactionary, a poseur who would like us to think he is all that stands between us and the Huns of the Right. Actions taken by our government should be subject to critical inspection with opposition expressed and alternatives suggested. Cockburn limits himself to only half the equation, the easy half.

Surely there are many critics of U.S. policy that, contrary to Cockburn's serene denial, see frightening problems in the world jungle and even scary mistakes being committed, but acknowledge that tigers have teeth and offer ideas for defanging. No, instead, we are treated to another of Cockburn's simplistic ragings, this time directed at President Clinton and a puerile defense of Saddam Hussein. Fine, Alex, now what would you do? What course of action should the world community take against this tyrant? Surely you have constructive solutions that have escaped the U.S. government. I don't want to rush you, but as you contemplate the world from your righteous aerie, millions of Kurds, Shiites, Bosnians and Somalis are waiting. Hussein isn't. He's very busy.



* Cockburn properly criticizes the hypocritical pretexts for the bombing of Baghdad.

Also significant is the scale of the crime. It is about equivalent to the bombing of the World Trade Center. In both cases, the terrorists bear responsibility for the handful of lives they accidentally, but predictably, ended. Both attacks were aimed at countrymen of killers or attempted killers (the latter, if the CIA and Kuwaiti torturer/interrogators are to be believed).

Both acts are regarded as inadequate by the exceptionally bloodthirsty, and those to whom foreign flesh is cheap.

If polls showed two-thirds of Iranians supporting the World Trade Center bombing, what sort of Nazis would we think them? With that in mind, what are we to think of ourselves?



* I wish just once someone would ask if we can afford to bomb Iraq, rather than if we can afford to educate our children, keep open the libraries or house the homeless! What's been done in Iraq is illegal, immoral, murderous, and least of all expensive. But who cares, as long as it calms our fears.


Pacific Palisades

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