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Lay It Out Clearly: Why Should We Start a War?

January 31, 2003

I have supported President Bush's response to terror since the 9/11 attack and to some extent his confrontation with Saddam Hussein. But his State of the Union speech Tuesday turned me around. He stooped to reminding us that he receives daily briefings of new threats to our security as we go innocently about our lives. He gave us a detailed recitation of Hussein's atrocities and, trying to link our security to this, presented imaginary horror scenarios.

I did not appreciate the president trying to frighten me. If the threat is so dire, why is he not fully funding homeland security measures? He did not make his case for attacking Iraq. If there are incontrovertible reasons for getting us into what could be a quagmire, Bush must quit the demagoguery and lay out those reasons clearly. As it is, and especially after that speech, the whole Iraq invasion plan suddenly seems like a sham to keep him in power. That's actually far more frightening than Hussein.

Patricia Casey

Fallbrook

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I thought that we were already at war with the terrorists. Why was it that we did not hear the name of the man who spearheaded the terrorists' attacks on 9/11? Was Osama bin Laden's name left out of the speech so that the full attention of the American people could be led to Hussein? The man who promised to bring integrity back to the White House surely is using a lot of deception.

Paul Bruyn

Huntington Beach

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After listening to Bush's speech, and then the rebuttals and his detractors, it finally dawned on me just how brainwashed and idealistically skewed some of my fellow citizens are: that they would rather give Hussein the benefit of the doubt than admit we are facing a real threat. These same naysayers who weep over the poor, afflicted children of Iraq lying in hospitals would have us believe that somehow Hussein's weapons program and his many palaces paid for themselves. It is time we stop deceiving ourselves and admit that after 9/11 it is going to take more than learned dogma to usher in a brave new world.

Tony Valenzuela Jr.

Azusa

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The United Nations inspectors' reports and the president's address suggest that there may be an alternative to instant war or troop withdrawal: Extend the inspections. Thus far the inspections have served to immobilize whatever weapons Hussein may have. We can have reasonable confidence that Iraq will not initiate aggression while the inspectors are present, nor is it likely that Hussein would initiate, under these circumstances, the kind of global terrorism depicted by the president.

Continuing the inspections, even if for many months, is far cheaper in lives and resources than waging war. The rush to war before April appears motivated by concerns about the weather. If that is the case, why not await the return of cooler weather in the autumn to make a final decision? In the meantime, many things could happen. Maybe a smoking gun will be found. Perhaps additional allies will join the U.S. The internal situation in Iraq could respond to the growing external pressures. But Hussein's hands will have been tied at least temporarily.

Louis Fleming

Pasadena

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Sen. Edward Kennedy's lucid call for reason and restraint, while admirable, does not go far enough (Commentary, Jan. 29). This administration's stated willingness to consider the use of nuclear weapons as a preemptive, first-strike option -- in this case against a nonnuclear country and absent a convincing case for war -- does not merely evince "disdain for long-standing norms of international behavior." Rather, Bush and his advisors have openly declared their allegiance to realpolitik at the expense of morality.

One must assume that their faith in U.S. invincibility has led them to seek U.S. hegemony. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld's directive to the U.S. Strategic Command regarding planning for use of nuclear weapons displays the kind of icy amorality one expects of a rapacious empire and not of a benign democracy. I don't recognize my country anymore.

Stuart Howard

Van Nuys

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If the U.S. had attacked Germany in 1936, World War II (and tens of millions of deaths) would never have happened, and leftists, liberals, Democrats and progressives would still be complaining about it.

Richard Showstack

Newport Beach

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Were only our president as thirsty for jobs as he is for blood.

Steve Tatham

Glendale

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In just two years we have gone from a surplus budget to Reagan-like deficits, unemployment has skyrocketed, the state and local governments are in desperate financial condition and the feds won't raise a finger to help them, environmental controls have been gutted, conservation of our forests and seas has been diminished, international laws and agreements have been abrogated and an unnecessary war is imminent.

That's quite an accomplishment in just 24 months. Of course, "Shrub" isn't Bill Clinton, so that makes everything else acceptable.

Clint Hopson

Tustin

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