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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Export Democracy, but Not by Force

September 20, 2004

Max Boot's Sept. 16 commentary, "A Democratic World Is No Neocon Folly," misses the point. Everyone can agree that democratization is a worthwhile goal, for moral, economic and other reasons. However, the neocons explicitly rely on the use of force, including in a preemptive manner, to achieve the democratization goal. This is the real folly.

At this point, at least 10,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the United States' preemptive war. How we can expect Iraqis to trust our democratic intentions when they see 10 dead Iraqis for every dead American? The United States will be successful at promoting democracy only if there is modicum of trust between Americans and the recipients of its assistance.

Mikaela A. McDermott

Washington, D.C.

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I'd like to thank Boot for pointing out the often ignored differences between President Bush and Sen. John Kerry's positions on Iraq. When you drop a carton of milk on the kitchen floor, your range of options is limited, and you would think there's a mop in your future. But as Boot reminds us, the Bush boys don't think they've made a mess. They think if they pitch a few eggs into the puddle, they'll get a souffle.

Mark Milinich

Los Angeles

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The folly is not in the idea of democracy -- the folly is in our own democracy giving the neocon lunatics carte blanche to hijack the word "democracy," just the word, not the concept with full and equal rights for all, as the neocons studiously ignore America's own needs (and ideals) in order to arm Israel as a racist nation.

Israel is in flagrant and long-term violation of multiple international laws and the Palestinians' basic human rights. Our response, thanks to neocon nuttiness, is to enthusiastically accept Israeli advice and direction by conjuring up a wide "war on terrorism." Next we systematically dismantle our own democracy with Israeli-inspired secret evidence in order to accuse, arrest and imprison Arabs and Muslims in America. We are well on our way to targeted political assassinations.

Anne Selden Annab

Mechanicsburg, Pa.

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From the outset, ensuring stability of our oil supply was the real reason for going to war with Iraq. To disguise this motive, the first cover the Bush neocons used for invading Iraq was to base our action on destroying Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction once and for all. Failing to find even a trace of these weapons, the fable of bringing democracy to the Middle East evolved.

When Bush extols the fact that Iraq will be a "beacon to other nations in the region," he is forgetting two things: that if the ongoing insurgency continues to escalate, democracy will never come to Iraq, and that the vibrant Israeli democracy has not been an especially effective lighthouse for the rest of the Middle East.

Fostering democracy throughout the world is indeed a worthy goal. But imposing democracy by force is not the way to do it. Nor should it be used to conceal ulterior objectives.

Larry Kaufman

Los Angeles

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Boot tries to make the point that what we are doing in Iraq is the right thing. He conveniently forgets about weapons of mass destruction. Isn't that why we are there? Oh, not anymore. Now we are building new democratic societies. What about fixing this one first, before we go around spending billions that we don't have on [another] nation's problems?

Americans have a right to fair elections, affordable healthcare, education and housing. All things clearly lacking in this great "democracy."

Greg Randall

Woodland Hills

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