I am writing in response to the letter in the River Cities' Reader by Tanisha Deuth from Rock Island. (See "Letter Writer Should Check Facts," Issue 413, February 19-25, 2003.) Tanisha, you accuse Ms. Bolkcom of either suffering from a coma or being stuck in a box in someone's basement for the last 60 years. Unlike you, I will not make any personal attacks in my response to your letter. To attack a person instead of attacking their views is intolerant and borders on bigotry. That has no place in a debate. Such things should be left for smear campaigns and political ads.

You make mention of the U.S. and our practices of sticking our nose where it doesn't belong, but with the intent of helping. Let me run a few examples past you and maybe you can tell me the logic behind our foreign-policy nosiness.

When the USSR invaded Afghanistan, it was America that helped train and support bin Laden and his guerilla fighters. We gave them weapons and military training to fight their oppressors. Once the USSR saw that it was a no-win situation, they pulled back, leaving Afghanistan to continue their bloody battles among the various tribes and their long-standing blood feuds. These blood feuds existed before the USSR invaded, and remained after they left. Even today, after the U.S. routed the Taliban, those bloody feuds continue. We may have removed the Taliban from power, but Afghanistan is a long way from being a democratic country.

Speaking of the Taliban, they are the ones who provided al-Qaeda with the radioactive material for a "dirty" bomb.

You also bring up 9-11, and state that it was the U.S. that got attacked, not those other countries. I don't have the exact numbers, but I remember hearing that there were many foreign nationals killed alongside our own citizens during that horrific attack. You seem to reveal your bigoted and isolationist nature with that statement. Are Americans more valuable as people than say Frenchmen or Germans? I would like to think that all human life is precious, no matter which nationality it originates from.

You mention that we need to "take out Saddam" because he is a threat to the U.S. Right now, Saddam is under the scrutiny of the entire world with the UN inspections going on over there. He is smart enough to know that any offensive act on his part would mean his destruction. We have emasculated him without firing a shot.

You mention "proof" that Saddam is backing al-Qaeda. I would like to see this proof you are talking about. I have been following this War on Terror/War Against Iraq since the very beginning. I don't see where this proof is. If you are talking about the few grainy pictures and Bush's supposed persuasive evidence that he says he has but refuses to share with the American people, then that is not proof at all. I would like you to quote your source. My sources for the points I am making in this letter are the newsmagazines The Week and The American Prospect. Try reading them; they have an unbiased view of the events of the world today, unlike Fox news and Rush Limbaugh.

Like millions of others who feel that war is not the answer to the world's problems, I have yet to hear President Bush make a persuasive case that combat operations are the only way to respond to Saddam Hussein. North Korea provides a greater threat to the stability of America, since they have missiles that will reach our Western shores. Yet none of the war hawks in Washington has declared war on North Korea. I wonder why that is? Kim Jong Il is by far a worse dictator than Saddam, yet our government has barely noticed his cries for attention. Could it be that there are no oil reserves in North Korea?

As for your quote, "Either you are for us or against us": That is childish. It was childish of Bush to say it, and it is childish of you to repeat it. That is more of a statement to be made on the playground than to be made by the leader of a country who should know better. Politics and diplomacy are about compromise and discussion, not about drawing lines in the sand. Just because America is the last remaining superpower in the world gives us no right to behave like a spoiled child.

My question to you is, will war with Iraq make America safer? Can President Bush protect us, for whom he works and not the other way around, from the terrorist threats from abroad? We knew about the threats in the Middle East for years, yet the U.S.S. Cole had a hole blasted in its side, killing dozens of our military servicemen and -women. Did Bush protect them?

I believe, as do many of the people with whom I discuss these events, that an unprovoked war on Iraq will make Americans less safe in the world. It will unleash horrific violence against not only America, but also our allies. Attacking Iraq will most likely cause the death of millions of innocent civilians. It will give the Islamic extremists just that much more cause to kill civilians all over the world. This is a concern that the White House hasn't really addressed, and can't dismiss. The Bush Administration believes it has the right to rid the world of unfriendly regimes, re-fashioning nations in America's own image. That is hubris, and hubris, according to the Bible, which President Bush claims to follow, always comes before a fall.

You quote that Saddam is a big part of the war on terror. You are probably thinking about Saddam when he gassed thousands of his own people. My question is: Where was the U.S. when this was happening? We could have helped those people when Saddam was doing this, yet we chose not to. That makes us just as guilty as the people who dropped the WPMs.

Another point you are probably unaware of is this. Back in 1982 when Iraq began losing its war with Iran, Washington feared that a triumphant Iran would spread its Islamic revolution to Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and other strategically important oil nations. National Security Decision Directive 114 of that year stated that the U.S. would do whatever was necessary and legal to keep Iraq from losing the war. Intelligence reports reported at the time that Iraq was routinely using chemical weapons on the battlefield, a direct violation of the 1925 Geneva Protocol. Still, the U.S. began sharing intelligence with Iraq and helped furnish it with cluster bombs. In 1983, Donald Rumsfeld - then a special U.S. envoy, but now secretary of defense - met with Saddam in Baghdad to smooth relations between the two governments.

By the time the eight-year war had ended in 1988, the U.S. had even let private companies send deadly viruses such as anthrax and bubonic plague to Iraq, which said it needed them for research. The U.S. samples, intelligence services now believe, served as the basis for Iraq's biological-weapons program.

So if you want to place blame for Iraq's WPMs, just look toward Washington, D.C.; the men responsible for them are there now, clamoring for a war that reasonable people see as stupid.

America does stick its nose in other countries' business, but helping to support dictators, and not the people who need the help. We were once in allegiance with bin Laden and Saddam, and America's track record of supporting repressive regimes is very sorry indeed.

My advice to you would be for you to do a little research and learn about the history of world events before you jump up on your soapbox and call other people names simply because you disagree with their views. Such things are known as propaganda, and Adolf Hitler showed just how persuasive one can be with the right spin on propaganda.

I am an American, and I am proud to live here. I support the U.S. troops and the past veterans from all of the wars we were engaged in, but I refuse to march in lockstep with an administration that does not have my country's best interests at heart.

R.J. DePaepe
East Moline

Resources Should Be Used Here, Not for War

Virtually every church body concluded that a preemptive and unilateral war with Iraq would be an unjust war. The threat of this war violates all standards of international law.

If this war takes place without the permission of the Security Council of the United Nations and without the consent of the international community, it will adversely affect the campaign against terrorism.

The value of lost lives alone is beyond calculation. Increased costs and taxes from war, reconstruction, and terrorism could be in the trillions.

Instead of spending hundreds of billions of taxpayers' dollars on another war in the Middle East, the funds should be used to create jobs and finance education, housing, health care, and other vital human needs.

Mike and Michele Montford

Joe and Georgia Moreno

The Reverend Dick Bresnahan

Sister Audrey Cleary, OSB

Sister Marilyn Ring, OSB
Rock Island

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