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Iraq War Plans Put the Cart Before the Horse

July 31, 2002

Ehud Sprinzak and Robert J. Lieber ("Oust Saddam First, Then Pursue Peace," Opinion, July 28) are, in their own words, "180-degrees wrong" when they ask us to believe that a U.S. attack on Iraq is somehow necessary to make Israel "feel more secure in making the necessary concessions for a viable peace with the Palestinians." This is twisted logic, putting the cart before the horse.

How does suppressing Palestinian national aspirations with a brutal occupation have anything to do with a threat from Iraq? It certainly does not make Israel safer from Iraqi threats. The opposite approach, ending the occupation and making peace with the Palestinians, would take away one of the excuses Saddam Hussein uses to rally support in the Arab states.

Furthermore, if Sprinzak and Lieber really want to identify "post-Oslo rejectionists," all they have to do is look at Ariel Sharon. The authors would do well to clean their own house before pushing the U.S. to clean Iraq's.

A.S. Nassar

Pasadena

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Sprinzak and Lieber are right when they speak of the need to remove Hussein from power. He is everything they say he is, and more. But if we're going to do so, we ought to follow the Constitution and ask Congress for a formal declaration of war against Iraq, laying out our reasons for the war with clear definitions of victory and a plan for the Iraqi people once we're done.

I have no doubt that the U.S. Congress would approve such moves wholeheartedly, as would most of the people in the U.S., as would most of the world. But we're not going to see that sort of thing from this administration, and when (not if) we just go in on President Bush's word alone, it will only make things worse.

Joe Vecchio

Alpharetta, Ga.

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On July 28 The Times ran two articles advocating national campaigns to develop domestic backing to forcibly remove Hussein. Sprinzak and Lieber concede that such an action is "not without risk." Derek Chollet (Commentary) suggests we need to be braced for the costs of such a conflict, "including possible U.S. casualties." Chollet is certain that Congress "will support the president."

The time has come to preemptively tell the administration and its Fourth Estate apologists that we do not want to sacrifice the lives of thousands of sons, husbands, brothers and friends unless presented with overwhelming justification. Hussein may be a despot. He may have ravaged Iraq. He may be a destabilizing force in the Middle East. But no satisfactory argument has been made for a unilateral U.S. military offensive that will require sacrificing thousands of American lives. Vietnam is a searing, wrenching monument to the folly of sending American soldiers to die in foreign countries without a clear and present danger to our national security. If there is merit to the arguments of Sprinzak, Lieber and Chollet, they must begin by making an unequivocal case for Hussein's threat to U.S. interests--a case not yet made.

Harvey Herschman

Westwood

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