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U.S. Needs the Will to Curb Tyrants

January 03, 2002

Re "The Iraqi Military's Achilles' Heel Is Saddam Hussein," Commentary, Dec. 26: Thank you for [retired Marine] Lt. Col. James Zumwalt's evaluation, as background, of Saddam Hussein as a military commander in chief should the U.S. decide to move the focus of the war on terrorism to Iraq.

While the Iraqi military--and civilians, too--may be more galvanized to defend their own homeland, whereas in the case of Kuwait they were not, it is the substance of Zumwalt's message that Iraq still does not have the culture and motivation to muster an effective resistance to a U.S. onslaught such as was visited upon Afghanistan.

Zumwalt is almost incontrovertibly right: We can and should ensure that the tyrant does not survive. Yet Hussein survives and, so far, Bin Laden does also.

The unfortunate problem, however, is that we will not likely develop the political will and independence of thought to act for fear of offending the nondemocratic self-interest of many Islamic and oil-rich nations in the region, or the many highly developed but oil-dependent nations that fear the temporary economic dislocation that will occur if they openly associate with and encourage a realignment of the world order, i.e., the forceful elimination of terrorism as a global instrument of diplomacy.

Jeff Schoenwald

Thousand Oaks

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