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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

The U.S. Presses Its War to Take Down a Dictator

March 21, 2003

So President Bush has his war, and TV has material for round-the-clock wallowing in military talk and American power. But the Bush people have officially sent the U.S. back into a dark age, marketing fear and showing we will lash out anywhere we please in the name of saving our own skins.

In the 2002 elections, Bush cowed millions of voters with the simplistic message to vote Republican if you cared about "security." Saddam Hussein, like many other dictators around the globe, is a horrible tyrant -- but he is not a threat to the United States. Terrorism cannot be fought by bombing country after country. We have set a terrible precedent, and I feel anything but patriotic about that.

John von Szeliski

Newport Beach

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History is replete with examples of political leaders who failed to learn its lessons. Not so this time. Listening to President Bush, and to the stirring speeches by Prime Minister Tony Blair and the loyal opposition (nobly supporting him, in this case) in the British Parliament on Tuesday, I recognize that this is a rare and pivotal moment in history, a moment when great men and great peoples choose to do the right thing in light of the lessons of the past.

Chris Ross

Redlands

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In the minutes following the beginning of the American attack on Baghdad, Bush went on television with a somber visage to announce that the war had commenced. However, The Times reports (March 20), when the cameras weren't trained on him, he pumped his fist and declared, "Feel good!" Does this president not realize that sending young American men and women into battle to face the possible loss of their own lives, not to mention those of innocent Iraqi men, women and children, is not a cause for celebration?

Steve Marshall

Castaic

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I am a defense plant worker who opposes the attack on Iraq, but I wish to make one thing clear. Regardless of how I feel about the wisdom of this war, I will do everything I can do in support of our troops, in hopes that the more I sweat, the less they will bleed.

I don't like Bush and his cronies -- I don't trust them -- but once the order is given, they no longer matter. I'm just a shipper, but what I can do, I will do. Not for Bush, not for Vice President Dick Cheney, not to oust Hussein. For our fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters in the field.

Michael K. Walker

Goleta

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Congratulations, President Bush. You have just made Hussein the second-most-hated man in the world.

Catherine Makoul

Culver City

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"Elusive Hussein Escapes 'Silver-Bullet' First Strike" (March 20) states that the strike was unsuccessful. The fact is, we do not know if this strike was successful or not. I, for one, hope it was.

Dave Becker

Temecula

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Bad enough that we shot first; even worse that we missed.

Brad Smith

Granada Hills

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We don't know yet if Hussein is alive or dead, but as a video expert, I can say conclusively that his address on Iraqi television was not live but a tape. While it's difficult to tell a perfect tape from a live broadcast, a slightly damaged tape is easy to recognize. This broadcast had several clear "dropouts" that were not characteristic of satellite or broadcast television but rather of a slightly worn professional Betacam videotape.

Gary Davis

Culver City

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If we have a quick and easy war (for those not in the service), the hawks will be able to begin planning the next war against the "axis of evil." If we have a long and difficult war, the horror may force the hawks to retreat back into their caves. In case of the former, the world will know that the "weapons of mass destruction" were a myth. In case of the latter, the people of the U.S. will know that an avoidable war such as this is not worth the cost in death and destruction. In either case, a couple of generations of young people will pay the price.

What a sad day this is for our country.

Ila Harris

San Dimas

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The whole world is wincing.

Steven Bartel

Los Angeles

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As an ex-Marine, I wish our troops Godspeed as they march against one of the most despicable dictators who has ever walked on this Earth. However, as a U.S. citizen who has coached American football to European friends from Finland to Italy, I must apologize to them for my country's bankrupt and shortsighted diplomacy, which abrasively shunned their legitimate opinions and concerns about Iraq.

It is a historical tragedy that "deployment determinism" won the day over a United Nations inspection program that was finally working due to the deployment of brave U.S. and British troops. Let us all pray that this war is brief and short on casualties. Let us all pray, also, that it does not regress into a medieval clash between Islamic fundamentalists and fundamentalists within our own midst.

Paul Petrich Jr.

Santa Barbara

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