Readers respond to Gary Kamiya's essay on why a U.S. invasion of Iraq could be our riskiest military intervention since WWII.

By Salon Staff

Published October 11, 2002 7:00PM (EDT)

[Read "Hail Caesar!"]

Gary Kamiya could make a much more convincing argument against President Bush's foreign policy if he didn't fall back on such ridiculously overused "Bush is stupid" rhetoric. In the first three paragraphs alone, Bush "cavalierly disregards" risks, gets jolted "back into his most primal right-wing instincts," and is called a Crusader three times. But what if Bush, and those around him, actually weighed the risks and made a rational decision? It seems good enough for Kamiya that Bush is obviously wrong and therefore obviously a moron. If right-wingers were really such troglodytes, their policies would be a lot easier to refute without slathering on the ad hominems.

-- Rob Goodman

If Bush's goal were to contain Saddam and gain the return of inspections in order to destroy or stop the development of weapons of mass destruction, he could have made that his goal from the start and saved our country and the world the past months of mounting terror and despair. He would not have had to make every fundraising event an occasion for drumbeating and bandwagoneering. He could have refrained from calling those Americans who have given voice to the concerns of many of us not well-placed to speak out "unpatriotic." He could have foresworn demagoguery and religious absolutism and taunting. But he did not.

So, to me, even if the outcome of this is that the U.N. is able to return to Iraq with a fully empowered inspection team, this will not be a feather in Mr. Bush's cap. It will be the result of the many who have mobilized against the propagandizing madmen of the Bush regime.

No doubt Mr. Bush's handlers will play any outcome to the best possible advantage for Mr. Bush. Surely no one can doubt that, after watching what has been happening. This is, in itself, a terrible indictment of this man and his followers. This is not about him or his dad or having a majority in the Senate. This is about going to war for no good reason, because someday, somewhere there might be a good reason. Or not.

Mr. Bush may or may not believe all he says. I have no way of knowing. But I do think that he is bringing out the worst in many of us, and that he is incapable of understanding that fervor founded in fear is not the same as faith and can never support freedom, here or abroad.

-- Deb Schultz

A very good article about the current situation.

Back in 1970 and '80, when I was studying, we had an American lecturer. I was very pro U.S. We saw the U.S. as a champion of the oppressed and for freedom of human rights.

Now, lately, I see the U.S. itself is the oppressor and gives moral and financial support to those who deny others basic human rights.

U.S. action currently looks like a corrupt father telling his son, "Do what I say but don't do what I do." Well, a corrupt person can control one and perhaps two unruly people. But if you have more than that, then controlling this unruly person will be very difficult. "Remember the power of the many against the power of one." No matter how strong you are, if you are a few against many, you will lose.

In the current situation, should the U.S. attack Iraq without U.N. backing, I have a strong feeling that it will win. But it will surely damage U.S. standing in the eyes of Islamic nations and the world. But I'm sure that many hawks in the U.S. do not care about these matters. What worries me is that the hawks start to threaten other Muslim nations, for example, Iran. This will certainly make all Muslim nations and people band together and it may cause the start of another holy war that will devastate the world.

Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. For this is the case of the U.S. administration since the fall of the Soviet Union.

I hope my fear does not come to being. I hope good sense will prevail.

-- Kamarul Bahrein Hashim

What amazes me is the love of people in pointing out the U.S.'s predilection to promote its selfish interests. OK, the U.S. wants to preempt any attack against itself, and, OK, the U.S. is interested in oil and Israel. So, is there any other country that does not promote its own selfish interests? What the whole world should realize is that the U.S. has not really become imperialistic in the true sense of the word. It has not envisioned itself conquering and subjugating other nations and owning the whole world and its resources and enslaving other peoples. It has not produced a Hitler or a Saddam and it will never do so. The world should be thankful.

-- Gras Reyes

With regard to Saddam's nuclear capability, Gary Kamiya states, or reports Kenneth Pollack as stating, that "[Saddam] is known to be building up his arsenal as quickly as possible and seeking enriched uranium, the final ingredient it is thought he needs to build a hydrogen bomb." [Emphasis mine]

A hydrogen bomb is a fusion weapon constructed using various light isotopes such as deuterium, tritium [isotopes of hydrogen] and lithium-6, although a uranium/plutonium fission device is required to initiate the extreme temperatures and pressures to enable the fusion reaction to proceed. They also may typically have an explosive yield of 10 megatons [10,000,000] TNT equivalent, quite capable of obliterating entire metropolises the size of Greater London or Greater New York.

A fission weapon requires that an appropriate mass of weapons-grade uranium or plutonium be brought together with suitable moderating elements to slow down the reactive neutrons to an energy suitable to propagate a fission chain reaction. The explosive power of fission weapons is typically tens of kilotons [10,000] TNT equivalent, which would take out, say, Manhattan [and leave surrounding areas distinctly iffy to live in due to radioactive fallout] and they are substantially easier to develop than "strategic" fusion weapons. So, in the interests of accuracy [if not the Bush administration's attempts to force an extreme foreign policy onto the USA & rest-of-the world population by considerations of panic alone], I would say that Mr. Kamiya [or is it Mr. Pollack?] is mistaken in stating that Saddam is anywhere near developing the hydrogen bomb. However, this does not preclude the possibility that he is "only months away" from completing a functional fission weapon, which would in any case be a prerequisite to a hydrogen bomb.

-- Hamish Muirhead

What a powerful analysis. The Bush doctrine is classic "groupthink" and a prescription for disaster far greater than the "Bay of Pigs," the push beyond the 38th parallel or the Gulf of Tonkin.

In 25 years from now when China has military might greater than ours will we be looking for coalitions? Or do we expect to preemptively strike at their growing military industrial complex too? The only thing the piece lacked was the powerful influence of dispensationalists in the Bush White House. At least his father was an Episcopalian with a worldview beyond the Southern Baptist Convention and the State of Texas.

-- Thomas J. Zwemer

Is it just too terrible to contemplate, or has it been considered that the post-attack Iraq worst case scenarios outlined in Gary Kamiya's Oct. 7 article would actually be best case in the eyes of the Bush administration?

Stirring up hornets' nests of future terrorists would work well to justify the new national security doctrine with all its implications. Without an ever lurking evil, real or perceived, how can Bush & Co justify $396 billion in yearly military spending? When Bush and his buddies leave the White House, they will golden parachute to multimillion-dollar exec positions in oil companies, in the defense industry and in conservative hawkish think tanks.

Why are the American people allowing themselves to be so manipulated?

-- Hector Carosso

Salon Staff

MORE FROM Salon Staff

Related Topics ------------------------------------------