There is nothing I would disagree with in Hal Crowther's angry and passionate article on the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of the impending Iraqi war ["At the Twilight's Last Gleaming," March 5]. However, there is one glaring omission in his scathing critique of the American killing of 80,000 civilians in the First Gulf War and that is the subsequent killing of 1.2 million Iraqi civilians, including a U.N. estimate of up to half a million children due to the murderous sanctions arbitrarily and punitively imposed on Iraq.
The sanctions whose declared official purpose were to deny Saddam war materials and encourage an overthrow of his regime (the latter an obvious impossibility in this dictatorship), were in reality an exercise in cruelty comparable, if not in numbers, then in barbarism, to the techniques of Stalin and Hitler. The sanctions through a U.N. committee completely dominated by the United States and Britain caused widespread malnutrition and resultant diseases, denied Iraqis of desperately needed medicine (including a vaccine for an epidemic disease killing thousands of children), denied medical equipment including dialysis and oxygen tanks, refused chlorine to treat sewage so as to avoid disease, stopped materials to rebuild a bombed-out water infrastruture, prevented agricultural tools, and, ludicrously, even toilet paper, soap and books (all weapons of mass destruction, no doubt).
I submit it would have been more merciful (and honest) to have shot these civilians, as Stalin and Hitler did, than to kill them slowly and torturously by denying them necessary nutrition and medicines for debilitating diseases under the name of sanctions. They were sanctioned killings unconscionable in a society that wants to be considered civilized.
I challenge those who believe, no matter how sincerely, that the United States has the high moral road relative to Iraq, to go beyond the jingoism of the Bush administration and read what we have done to the Iraqi people (http://globalpolicy.org, click on "sanctions").
You will find the tragic details of this U.S.-inspired and -implemented holocaust from a diverse group of sources, including U.N. officials (some of whom resigned in disgust). And then decide whether we should continue to murder the Iraqi people with another war.
Hugh Giblin, Durham
You need to go ahead and get moving on to Portugal there poogie boy ["At the Twilight's Last Gleaming," March 5]. Every liberal we can get out of this country helps. This is the greatest country in the world, you silly little man. Like Clinton and any other liberals, you are scared little men willing to ignore problems in the world and refusing to fight or stand up for your country, yet you will still bad-mouth the real men protecting your sorry ass. These men, by the way, would be the first people you would turn to in a time of crisis. Check out this link with a new book out about your hero Clinton: http://www.newsmaxstore.com/nms/showdetl.cfm?&DID=6&Product_ID=876&CATID=1&G. And to paraphrase good old Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men: You can't live under the blanket of freedom and then question the manner in which it is provided. I hear that Portugal is beautiful at this time of year. Enjoy it for the two weeks you would stay before you come running back. Better yet, go be a human shield; thin out the gene pool.
Dave Stauffer, Raleigh
I was shocked to see Hal Crowther refer to Nelson Mandela as "someone whose moral authority is beyond question" ["At the Twilight's Last Gleaming," March 5]. Personally, I believe the moral authority of a man who condoned necklacing and the bombing of sandwich shops is questionable. It is no wonder that a terrorist is opposed to a war on terrorism.
Crowther goes on to talk about people who gathered to "protest a war in which no shot had yet been fired." One wonders where Crowther was on September 11, 2001. On that day the first shots of this war were fired, using our own civilian aircraft as weapons and killing more than 3,000 of our citizens.
Crowther and the protesters miss a key point: President Bush is not deciding if America will go to war. America is at war, whether we like it or not. The enemy brought this war to us.
Gerald Belton, Durham
Your current commentary on the Iraq nonsense is well-written and cuts to the quick ["At the Twilight's Last Gleaming," March 5]. And yet it brings me no joy to read what is abundantly clear to many Americans and the rest of the world. When will we learn? Hopefully, it's a matter of when, not if.
John Walker, Chapel Hill
The column "At the Twilight's Last Gleaming" [March 5] is outrageous. Crowther shows signs of dementia in his distortions and characterizations. His invective is disgusting and unreasoned. You have shown very weak judgment in publishing such a juvenal and emotional screed. This level of discussion is irresponsible and unacceptable. You make a joke of the Independent Weekly with such buffoonery. Are you so witless?
Eric Dailey, Cary
As a Vietnam vet who has experienced war first hand, unlike our President, I know what we are in for ["At the Twilight's Last Gleaming," March 5]. I have a sinking feeling that the country is on the brink of a monumental mistake that will haunt us for the rest of our lives (literally) that we have given into the absolute worst elements in our society. Bush has squandered our good will, squandered our financial strength, squandered our natural resources and now wants to squander the lives of many good women and men in combat.
Hal Crowther captured almost everything I wanted to say. I plan to send his article to as many of my family and friends as I can. I too am ashamed to be an American, and I never thought I would say that. But what aggravates me even more is that this guy who assumed the presidency had his daddy pull strings for him to jump 150 applicants in line to enter the Texas Air National Guard. Then he quit, or rather deserted, the Guard the last year of his duty. Those who did not have the stomach for Vietnam nor the backbone to protest the war outright went into the Guard. This is the man, a deserter from his military obligation, who wants to plunge this country into war. Hal, if you haven't done a piece on Bush's military record or lack thereof, and all the right wing "chickenhawks" who avoided service, then you might want to consider it. A good starting source is the following URL: http://www.nhgazette.com/chickenhawks.html
James V. Porto, Carrboro
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