In her column "Time for Us to Go" (December 7), Mary Anna Towler quoted some mothballed ex-general who made two racist, inane, and outrageous statements.
The first statement was that "there will be no democracy in Iraq." Considering that the Iraqis have braved even death to vote three times, this statement is demeaning to the Iraqis and belittles their courage and aspirations. Other Islamic countries such as Turkey and Indonesia are democracies, so why not Iraq?
The other statement was that Iraq will have either "a Sunni-Baathist-secular tyranny" or a "Shiite-IslamicRepublic tyranny." One can only assume that the ex-general is stupid and Ms. Towler is totally naïve. Twenty-five percent of Iraq's population are Kurds. Another 5 percent are Christian and other minorities. Thirty to 50 percent of both Sunnis and Shiites are secular. Ninety-eight percent of the population hates the Baathists with a passion. Add the percentages and see if the numbers don't add up to a possible secular coalition of these forces running Iraq.
Rumsfeld and his ilk have made a mess of Iraq, but the nonsense espoused by people who probably can't even find Iraq on the map is infuriating. We want our forces out of Iraq, fine. But stop passing judgment on a people about whom you know nothing.
Maan R. Al-Ubaidi, Culver Road, Rochester
Shame on you, Ms. Towler!
You have joined the crowd of the most hysterical and spiteful of America bashers ("Time for Us to Go," December 7), but time is not working for you. Much to your disappointment, I am sure, the news from Iraq confirms that the Democratic Party is losing another election.
You took your cue from General Odom, the latest official of past administrations with an ax to grind, to endorse a shameful and criminal course of action. Just like Richard Clarke or Lawrence Wilkerson, General Odom suffers from the sulking envy of somebody whose advice was not followed by the current administration. And to get back at it, he doesn't care if he undermines the morale of our brave fighting men and women.
Odom is the co-author, among many other things, of a book titled "America's Inadvertent Empire." While I tend to agree that America's empire has been less the result of conscious decisions by its political leaders than of the powerful influence of its ideas of political liberty and the immense wealth created by its regime of individual free enterprise, I have the feeling that the general thinks we are also an "inadvertent" democracy.
No, Ms. Towler, we are what we are because of the very conscious decisions made by the framers of our republic, and General Odom is just the last of a long line of smug defeatists and elitists who thinks that our political principles can work only with white, Anglo-Saxon Protestants: Wasp's. And you agree with him that Iraqis are just too stupid to understand freedom and democracy.
I repeat: shame on you!
Follow the logic of your own argument, Ms. Towler. You say we went into Iraq under false pretenses. Let us just stipulate, for the sake of argument, that you're right: Bush lied. Meaning he knew there were no WMD's (real or potential) in Saddam's possession.
So what does he do? He attacks Iraq, topples Saddam, unleashes his search teams all over the country, and proves to the world that he was lying! What did I miss, Ms. Towler?
What I don't understand is why Democrats, once again, seem to think that rooting for America's defeat (because that's what you are doing, although you dare not say it in as many words) will result in electoral advantages for them. I would submit to you that our defeat in Vietnam (that's what it was, and your political pals rooted for it) signaled the beginning of the shift of this country from New Deal liberalism to Republican conservatism.
Italo Savella, FernwoodPark, Rochester
Mary Anna Towler's response: I do not believe, and have never said, that Iraqis are "too stupid to understand freedom and democracy." I also do not believe that the United States can impose democracy on another country. Was Saddam Hussein a terrible, torturing ruler? Absolutely. The Bush administration did not tell us the purpose of the war was to give the Iraqi people democracy, however. It said the purpose was to protect Americans.
Did Bush lie about Iraq's "weapons of mass destruction"? Was he deceived? Or did he make a terrible mistake in judgment? Maybe we'll never know. What we do know is that he ignored plenty of advice that the WMD reports were shaky at best.
Is a freely elected, democratic government better than the reign of a tyrant? Of course. Do we want to invade every country whose people suffer from a terrible tyrant? You tell me. And tell me which rulers are the worst, which people suffer the most horribly. Should we invade Syria? Sudan? Iran? North Korea? In how many countries will our brave young men and women die as we spread democracy throughout the world? Or are the Iraqis the only people who warrant our concern and our lives?
I pray that the result of this misguided, poorly planned invasion is a stable democratic government. I am terribly afraid that it won't be. And I continue to believe that our invasion of Iraq has made us less safe, not more.
I too heard the NPR piece by retired general William Odom and felt that his view fits the facts as we know them better than anyone else I have heard ("Time for Us to Go," December 7). I thought you summarized and added to Odom's piece nicely.
Adding to this sentiment is the December 7 NPR story, "Concern Grows over Iraqi 'Honor Killings.'" Iraqi women who are abducted stand a high chance of being killed by their families if they are released, because they have become "defiled." This is not in keeping with Islam but rather with sexist tribal mores regarding the family's honor.
The interview focused on a family that had their daughter killed because she had been abducted and possibly raped, bringing shame on the family in their eyes. The father and brother couldn't pull the trigger, so they had a cousin do it for the "good of the family." The murderous cousin has a law degree.
As a father and a brother, I find this so reprehensible that it is mind-boggling. Aside from the revolting nature of the crime, it drove home for me that a sizeable number of the Iraqi people have a value system very different from ours. This type of incident points out that the notion that the West will somehow set up egalitarian and just institutions is just a pipe dream. We have no future in that place and should pull out as soon as reasonably possible.
Lawrence Jones, Spruce Avenue, Rochester
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