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The Risks and Rewards of Preemptive War

September 23, 2002

In "Crisis of '62 Calls to Bush" (Commentary, Sept. 19), Lawrence Korb compares the current Iraqi crisis to the Cuban missile crisis in 1962. But there is a big difference between these two events. In 1962 Fidel Castro was capable of and could fire ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads supplied by the Soviet Union into most of our cities. A subsequent all-out nuclear war with the Soviet Union was also a possibility.

Today, even if the mad Saddam Hussein wants to commit suicide by attacking the U.S., he has not even developed a single nuclear bomb. Besides, he has no long-range missiles to deliver them. The real reason the Bush administration wants a war with Iraq may well be to take voters' minds off the bad economy and get President Bush reelected as the beneficiary of being a wartime president.

Bing Feng

Rowland Heights

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Oh, the whining! Those who are more concerned about Bush alienating potential allies on Iraq than leading them should remember the forcefulness of a former president, who, with equal bravado, ended the Cold War and set in motion the forces that ridded the world of the threat of communism. While politeness has its place and time, it sometimes takes a heavy hand to get a job done.

William J. Becker Jr.

Los Angeles

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I agree, "We Need Answers, Mr. Bush" (editorial, Sept. 20). I hope Congress asks these important questions before it passes the administration's resolution for action on Iraq. I would add one more: What will this war cost in human life? What is an acceptable number of casualities, both American and innocent civilians, to make a regime change in Iraq? More than 50,000 Americans and countless civilians died in Vietnam and the only regime change that occurred was in South Vietnam. Questions need to be asked and answered.

Robert T. Dalton

Los Angeles

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Among the many points in his thoughtful Sept. 15 Opinion piece, Jay Taylor carefully charts the path we, as Americans, must take between restraint and retaliation in the wake of the 9/11 tragedy. His even-tempered evaluation that there is, as yet, little concrete evidence supporting Iraqi involvement in the tragedy underscores the need for caution when considering a military option against Hussein. When even our strongest allies have suggested that 9/11 may have occurred partly, if not largely, as a result of a dysfunctional U.S. foreign policy toward the Arab world, then how will such a policy be improved by engaging in "preemptive" war with Iraq without just cause?

We cannot afford to be hasty with our response to terrorist threats. As a Muslim, I try to remind myself of this by reflecting upon the beautiful verse from the Old Testament: "Every purpose is established by counsel: and with good advice make war" (Proverbs 20:18).

Arshad Khan

Chino Hills

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To oppose war with Iraq based upon a fear that it will result in a large-scale increase in the number of people willing to participate in terrorism is tantamount to giving in to blackmail. It's safer to assume that a nation with the particular atrocity-filled history that Iraq has is secretly building a nuclear bomb. The risk of assuming otherwise is just plain foolish.

Ray Martinez

Long Beach

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