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NOW LISTEN TO ME . . .
I am a veteran of the first Gulf War, and it absolutely disgusts me to hear new veterans whine and complain about the “only” reason they think we were in the Persian Gulf to begin with was for oil and personal profit [see “Listen to me!” July 6]. I don’t understand feeble-minded thinking or reasoning, negative propaganda about our president and the military, [or] ill-informed GIs who have a “woe is me” attitude. They obviously haven’t picked up a history book lately.
It has been clear for decades why we needed to oust Saddam Hussein. Saddam’s reign of terror didn’t start in Kuwait. It began back in 1979, when he forced the then-reigning president into “retirement” and put 68 [members] of the Ba’ath Party on trial. Twenty-two were found guilty and sentenced to death. Let’s welcome the new president in with a bang, shall we?
Let’s not stop there. The Iran-Iraq War started in 1980 and continued through 1988, an initial dispute of ownership over a waterway that separates both countries that escalated into so much more. In 1980, Saddam invaded the Khuzestan province in Iran and declared it a new Iraqi province. By 1982, Iraq was what we call “backpedaling” and trying to find a way to end the war it started after Iran sent wave after wave of forces to take back the province. Saddam’s oil interests had been severely damaged by this point by the Iranian navy, which forced Saddam into more drastic measures in the future.
During the Iran-Iraq War, Saddam left no stone unturned in order to cleanse his land of infidels and rebels and decided to use chemical weapons against Iranian forces and the Kurds. On March 16, 1988, the Kurd village of Halabja was attacked by Saddam’s force, and a combination of mustard gas, nerve agents, and possibly cyanide was used to kill 5,000 people and maim, debilitate, and disfigure 10,000 more. It was estimated that Saddam invaded 24 villages in April 1987 and used similar tactics. The eight-year war ended in a stalemate. There were hundreds of thousands of casualties; approximately 1.7 million died on both sides. Both economies, previously healthy, were left in shambles. But how do you finance and rebuild after an eight-year-long war? Kuwait ring a bell? Saddam had a war debt of $75 billion — $30 billion was owed to Kuwait for funding his war, and Kuwait sits on 10 percent of the world’s oil supply. Why not combine Iraq and Kuwait and make it 20 percent? Why not take what he can?
Saddam had been committing mass murder against his own people and supplying aid to terrorists for years.
I’m not one who thinks war is the only solution, but I do consider it a necessary evil and would serve my country proudly again. Of course, the United States has an economic interest in the Gulf. Why shouldn’t we protect it? And while we are protecting our interests, hey, why not save a few hundred thousands lives while we are at it? The government was and is doing the right thing, morally and economically, and I, for one, stand behind my president and the military.
THANKS FOR STANDING UP
Thank you to R.L. Nave for bringing to light the bravery of Diane Hughes [“A lesser risk,” July 13]. She is standing up for her beliefs and letting people know that this war in Iraq is wrong. “Yes, I did accomplish something: a sense of power in resistance to injustice,” Diane says. We are sending our noble troops to a country that does not want us there — see the Illinois Times article “Listen to me!” [July 6].
We need to fix things in this country before we go telling other countries how to run theirs. Our troops, as well as innocent Iraqi women and children, are being killed. And for what? Our only son, our only child, was killed in Iraq in February 2005 because he felt he needed to answer the terrorism threat. But we Americans were lied to, I believe, as to why we needed to go to Iraq. Now our son and many other mothers’ sons are dead.
Diane is a courageous woman. She is standing up for what she believes. She is doing something that at this time I cannot. This war needs to stop now. Stop the killing. Stop the waste. Work for peace. And peace is work. We must try now before another mother, father, wife, husband, or grandparent hears the terrible words Jacob’s father and I heard: “We are sorry to report but CPL Jacob C. Palmatier was killed Feb. 24 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his military vehicle in Muqdadiyah, Iraq.” Jacob was only 29 years old and had been married only one year. His parents and other loved ones will never be able to again tell him to his face how much they love him and need him. We will see him again in Heaven. But that is then, this is now.
The pain never goes away. But we must learn from it.
Pray for and support our troops, please. We need them and they need us.
I VOTE FOR PEACE
Two days ago, I read an e-mail regarding a friend who was arrested entering the U.S. Military Entrance Processing Command in North Chicago on July 5, in resistance to the Iraq war. Diane Lopez Hughes and two other participants face possible prison terms for their opposition to the unethical and, in my opinion, illegal war in Iraq.
On Saturday [July 8] I joined seven or eight other people in front of the federal building at Sixth and Monroe for an hour-long vigil for peace. We held various signs with the messages “Honk for Peace” and “Support the troops, bring them home.” Many motorists honked as they passed the intersection and gave us the V for peace (because peace is victory). A small group across the street passed by, chanting, “More troops, more troops,” but smiled as they did, and we smiled back and gave them the V.
A friend and I talked of the war, the need for rain, traded Army stories, and commented on the pitiful state of our gardens, the price of gas and the need for coherent resource use policies in today’s world.
I am sitting by my garden as I write this; the wood owl I constructed and painted stands at the north like an earth guardian. I feel that the events of the day have lifted my spirits. The risk some take to work for justice and peace reaffirms my faith in people.
Somewhere to the west a neighbor works a chainsaw. Crows caw and birds sing in the still air. The thought comes to me that our people, as well as those in other countries, have a need for a real and lasting peace. The real enemy is the fear within but the potential to make changes for the better resides also within us. I vote for peace, real and lasting.
A FEW CARDS SHORT
I’m not usually a letter-to-the-editor person, but I felt I had to reply to the article written by Rod Helle [“Caging the beast,” July 6]. His statement concerning military spending in 1950 needs to be clarified. When North Korea invaded South Korea in the summer of 1950, our military had been gutted down to a dangerous level. As a Marine Corps veteran of the Korean War, I can state that South Korea was a broken and devastated country when a truce was declared in 1953. If the U.S. had not come to the defense of South Korea, it would have been “unified” with the North. Stopping aggression there was the first step to sending communism to the “dustbin” of history.
I’m sure Mr. Helle is a fine teacher. I just hope he isn’t teaching history. On some of his history “facts,” he is just a few cards short of a full deck.
Paul R. Thompson
SPREAD THE WORD
I wish the article by Rod Helle in the July 6 issue of Illinois Times was in the editorial pages of every newspaper in the country. Excellent article.