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Europeans Haven't Forgotten War

June 06, 2004

In response to Max Boot's June 3 commentary, "Risky Path for Pacifist Europe," let me give you the perspective of an Englishman who is the first male in his family for three generations not to have been sent out to war at the age of 18 (my father landed at Normandy and my grandfather fought throughout World War I).

The reason we Europeans don't want to join your president's foolhardy adventure in Iraq is precisely because we know too much about war, its consequences and the propensity of armchair civilian warriors to create widespread loss of life and destruction.

Bear in mind too that it isn't just the wars in the 20th century we're remembering. I live in neutral Sweden now, but across the water in Poland and the Baltic states, "the Swedes are coming" is still something parents say to children to frighten them (remembering Sweden's imperial and religious campaigns of slaughter in the 1600s). My own country's record goes right back to the 11th century.

David Richardson

Kalmar, Sweden

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Boot relies on selective memory in attempting to portray Europeans as starry-eyed pacifists who shrink from sacrifice and responsibility. Since World War II, the French and/or English have sent troops into harm's way in Vietnam, Algeria, the Suez, the Falkland Islands, the first Gulf War, Kosovo and Afghanistan.

The current war on Iraq was initiated for the wrong reasons and has made the world less safe by destabilizing and inflaming a volatile region. Any rational, nonpartisan person would conclude that Europeans were smart to want to sit this one out.

Khaled Galal

San Francisco

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President Bush in his commencement speech at the Air Force Academy (June 3) should have said that the Iraq war is similar to the Vietnam War instead of to World War II. President Johnson lied to Congress that our warship in the Gulf of Tonkin was attacked by a North Vietnamese gunboat. Based on this lie, Congress voted war powers to Johnson.

Bush lied to Americans and to Congress that Iraq possessed WMD and that Saddam Hussein was engaged in terrorism. Based on this lie, a near-unilateral strike against Iraq was launched.

This is an impeachable offense that is killing Americans, Iraqis and countless other people. Where are the Americans who called for impeachment of President Clinton for his sexual lies that killed no one?

Sy Yas Saito

Torrance

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The headline read, "Troops Told They Can't Leave Army" (June 3). Not even if they want to go to business school?

Lou Mathews

Los Angeles

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