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U.S. should stress ideals over power

August 08, 2007

Re "Old world order," Opinion, Aug. 5

The United States is indeed running the old world order, and we will for a while longer. But as with most empires, we are destined to implode. The overreach of the American empire (more than 700 military installations around the world in 120 nations), coupled with a defense budget of $1 trillion annually (all related "defense" expenditures) cannot be long sustained.

Doing so would neglect our infrastructure of healthcare, education, transportation and more. The bridge collapse in Minneapolis is a preview of coming attractions. While no country can realistically challenge American hegemony currently, the only thing they need to do is wait -- the process of our self-destruction is well underway.

Bob Teigan

Simi Valley

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I respect Robert Kagan for his learned perspective and coolheaded approach. His piece is the best apology for the vast blunders rained down on the world by the current Bush administration I have seen yet. Kagan points out that the world power struggle is between liberal democracy and autocracy -- which side are President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney on?

Colin Doyle

Colonia, N.J.

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Kagan's brief history of the world seems to support Hitler's belief that brute power and matchless weapons are what makes a nation great. I'm not in Kagan's intellectual class, but even I can see that he has badly misjudged this country's underlying truth. The American experiment has, until recently, provided the world with hope. The values we professed and seemed to embody were indeed a beacon of light to striving people everywhere. Kagan says, "International conditions continue to support its predominance. As long as the U.S. remains strong." I disagree. History tells me that we can't change people's minds at the point of a gun. If the U.S. wishes to continue as a world leader, it will be because we live up to the ideals embedded in our founding.

Sheldon J. Baer

Woodland Hills

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Kagan suggests that an American failure in Iraq would not be catastrophic, that we could lose the war and American security and standing in the world would probably change little. But if the outcome of the war is so insignificant, why then was he such an ardent advocate of the American invasion in the first place? For him to downplay the outcome now, after spending years trying to convince the public that the war was a political and moral imperative, seriously undermines his credibility.

Ted Gaulin

Huntington Beach

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