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Bush apologist Boot is playing a shell game

July 30, 2006

Max Boot is absolutely correct when he says that "Bush didn't start the fire" in the Middle East (Opinion, July 26). Boot concludes: "There is no reason to think that the critics' preferred approach -- more diplomatic blather ... would have produced any better results."

Does Boot really believe that it has been worth hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of American lives just to produce the same results that could have been obtained with "diplomatic blather"? The result of President Bush's misadventure is a military stretched to the limit with no end to the war in sight. The Middle East, and the whole world for that matter, knows that the United States has been drastically weakened by Iraq and that we have no choice but to return to "diplomatic blather." Bush did not start the fire; he just threw gasoline on it.

DENNIS KEMPER

San Dimas

*

Fires were smoldering in the Middle East and Asia before the Iraq war, but Boot completely missed the point of Rosa Brooks' July 21 column, which he criticizes. Here's the picture. The United States is one fire station with finite resources examining fires around the world. The Bush administration decides that it will target one small fire, then other arsonists will realize what great firefighters we are and douse the ones they've started. Ironically, our target is raging and spreading. Thousands are dead and wounded. Who benefits when surrogates of the unrepentant Bush administration say, "Don't blame the conflagration on us"?

JUNE AUGUST

La Crescenta

*

Boot is an expert at the art of the false choice. He offers us a choice between Saddam Hussein's 1980s butchery and today's burgeoning civil war and asks how we can say which is worse. He forgets that Hussein was contained by sanctions during the 1990s, a time during which his weapons of mass destruction were depleted and his vision of manifest destiny curtailed. Today, we face chaos in Iraq and a much stronger Iran because of a simple choice Bush made. Boot offers these false choices in an attempt to absolve an utterly incompetent leader.

MATT HOLLOWAY

Los Angeles

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