War in Iraq: Is the 'nearest right' near enough?

Regarding his Feb. 12 opinion column "In war, what is the 'nearest right'?": John Hughes writes eloquently of the British experience during World War II. His observation that German aggression seemed so clear-cut couldn't be more accurate.

German troops occupied the Rhineland in 1936. In 1938, Germany forced an Anschluss (expansion of Germany) into Austria. In 1938, Adolf Hitler demanded the annexation of the Sudetenland. He got that at Munich, and some months later took all of Czechoslovakia. The next step for Hitler was to invade Poland in 1939.

Mr. Hughes suggests that the "nearest right" now is the military conquest of Iraq. But I wonder how he can possibly equate the Iraqi regime with Herr Hitler's.

Yes, Saddam Hussein is "a nasty piece of work" - the exact words England's Neville Chamberlain used to describe Germany's Hitler. But Saddam Hussein has attacked no one recently, has allowed UN inspectors into his nation, and has been under UN sanctions since 1991.

Why must the world go to war now with this tin-pot dictator if it can successfully disarm him? The "nearest right," it seems to me, is a peaceful resolution of this unpleasant episode.
Paul Kellogg
New York

Regarding "In war, what is the 'nearest right'?": I was amazed to read that "there is no pro-war movement. Hardly anybody wants war." John Hughes can hardly justify that statement, unless he is prepared to argue that President Bush, Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Rumsfeld are "hardly anybody."

Although it is true that very few people around the world want war, it is impossible to ignore the fact that Mr. Bush, Mr. Cheney, and Mr. Rumsfeld want war at all costs, even if there is no evidence to justify a war, and even if war will severely damage vital international institutions including the United Nations, the European Union, and NATO.
Jim Purdy
Oklahoma City

John Hughes is heartbreakingly naive if he honestly thinks there is not a "pro-war" movement - the military, the people who supply the military, the administration that has painted itself into a corner with ever-more dire threats, even the media whose news departments salivate at the prospect of televising a war instead of just cops chasing getaway cars.

Yes, there is a pro-war movement. The individuals who make it up might tell you they don't want war. They don't want their children going to war, don't want to pay for war. But the aggregate of those people is a powerful force pushing us ever closer to disaster.
Jim Houghton
Encino, Calif.

John Hughes overlooks a third option in dealing with Saddam Hussein. It's called "law, not war." Going after Mr. Hussein for his crimes against humanity (the mass murder of Kurds) and war crimes (the mass murder of Iranians) would be far different from trying to disarm a nation.

Every Arab and European nation would line up behind an effort to bring Hussein before an international tribunal.

Mr. Hughes profoundly understates the downside of Hussein unleashing his weapons of mass destruction. Most intelligence sources believe Hussein has weaponized smallpox and will use such weapons if he is attacked.

This would mean more than "heavy allied casualities." It would mean the end of civilization as we know it. That hardly sounds like "the nearest right."
Chuck Woolery
Rockville, Md.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.
QR Code to Letters
Read this article in
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today