Readers of our March 17 cover story on "Saddam's War" lambasted George W. Bush. "Blood stains," one said of "the atrocious casualties of war." Wrote another: "Bush has re-created the 'ugly American'." But a Muslim emphasized, "This butcher [Saddam] slaughtered innocent Muslims."
The Casualties of War
Your cover story "Saddam's War" refers repeatedly to the "credulous Arab press" and public (March 17). Should we believe that the American press and public are less credulous? Reading some of your articles, I'd say not. What matters to many people is not, as you write, that "accurate American bombs could produce atrocious TV images," but the fact that they will produce atrocious casualties among innocent people. Blood is not simply red--it stains. In the end, you prove one point: the propaganda war has begun. As with any war, it is fought from two sides and starts by obfuscating the minds and reasoning of many.
Where have all those humanitarian ideals stated in the Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights gone? The Bush administration has succeeded in recreating the image of the "ugly American." If the main aim is to remove Saddam and get him--"dead or alive," as the president's rhetoric goes--then why spend up to $200 billion on the deployment of high-tech weapons and huge numbers of soldiers, with the risk of letting the despot escape? Osama bin Laden and the leaders of the Taliban still sit comfortably somewhere in Afghanistan, giggling over the coup. I suppose it may be a comfort to some people that it was only some 1,000 Afghan civilians who were killed in the bomb attacks. Deploringly enough, there are Europeans willing to follow Bush in his breach of national, international and moral rules.
Saddam is an evil man who runs an evil regime, with tragic consequences for the Iraqi people. In 1991 the coalition missed a golden opportunity to save Iraq's innocent people from this butcher. Now it is time to get rid of Saddam. I felt ashamed when I saw some of the Muslim world shouting slogans in favor of this killer. We Muslims should back the allies in curbing this butcher who slaughtered thousands of women, children and other innocent Muslims and Kurds in Iran, Kuwait and Iraq itself.
Munir Ahmed Javed
President Bush and Tony Blair have ignored world public opinion as well as the opinion of their own citizens in such matters as invading another sovereign country. They seem bent upon destroying Iraq and its innocent people by testing their so-called smart weapons of mass destruction. It is not sane politics but, rather, a family vendetta for which Bush will go down in history as the butcher of Iraq.
Syed Rashid Ali Shah
New World Order
Thank you for an excellent "World View" in your March 17 issue ("Is This the New World Order?"). It is comforting to see that it is not only in "old Europe" that questions are being asked about the war plans. Many people are uncomfortable with this war because it looks very much like a personal issue to George W. Bush, which explains better than politics his obstinacy and hurry. After all, wouldn't a peaceful destruction of Iraq's unauthorized weapons--even if it had taken six months--have been better than a war? Or are we talking about a pretext?
Knut Erik Hougen
The very foundations of the modern international system have been greatly undermined by the United States's unilateral actions. Prior to the current administration, the global arena was mostly stable. The Clinton administration did a great job in "engaging" the "rogue states." But the Bush administration's sudden decision to combat terrorism by fighting off these states has once again destabilized international security and stability. I do not see any benefits, short term or long term, which can be derived from the Bush administration's decisions. The effects have been and will be detrimental to the international order. It would be better to have several rogue states around that do not really have much destabilizing effect than have one big rogue state in the end creating chaos. It may be true that "covenants without swords are but mere words," but this does not justify creating covenants with swords. There may not be chaos under the first scenario, but chaos is inevitable in the second.
Kudos to Stryker McGuire and Michael Meyer, who seem to join the "old Europeans" in believing that international organizations--primarily the United Nations--have a role to play. The present U.S. administration apparently does everything to the contrary. The authors' last question "could the dictator do as much damage to America... as it is doing to the world in its single-minded quest to oust him?" is farsighted and sums up the worry of millions of people in "old" Europe and across the world.
"Imperial delirium" is the name I'd give to the mental disorder that gave birth to the phrase "new world order."
Andres T. Stepkowski
Santa Cruz, Bolivia
The "new world" crowd has set in motion forces that are spiraling out of control. It appears the "new world order" will either control world resources in order to maintain its "global primacy" or die trying--and take us and the rest of the world with it.
Du Quoin, Illinois
McGuire and Meyer are correct in their statement that "the body of laws and multilateral institutions that has come to be known as the 'international community' has suffered a grievous blow." As an American citizen, I believe that the United States' unilateralism is the catalyst that will ensure disruption and war for many years. Yet who allowed President Bush to do such a thing? The American people. Frankly, I am appalled by the complacency of the American citizenry. I am frightened by news of rights' being taken away or implied as secondary in times of hardship. I'm a patriot, but for the very first time in my life I am ashamed to say that I come from a country where might makes right. Being an American now means being arrogant, self-righteous and believing in our supremacy over all people, organizations and ideals.
A Luxury Brand
Your Feb. 10 article "The Luxury Bubble" incorrectly reported an Isetan spokesperson's comment on the performance of Gucci. Gucci is one of the strongest luxury brands in Japan. We have been working with Gucci for years and look forward to continued success in our partnership.
General Manager, Public Relations & IR
Isetan Co. Ltd.
Thirsting for Iraqi Oil?
Michael Hirsh does an outstanding job of pointing out the common-sense rebuttals to the oil-conspiracy theory being perpetuated by President George W. Bush's political detractors and that is being fueled throughout Europe ("Blood, Oil & Iraq," March 10). When first considering the possibility that Bush's motivations for taking on Iraq were due to a thirst for oil, I came to the same conclusion that Hirsh does in his article; that is, we can achieve the result of acquiring Iraq's oil by swinging a deal rather than through the incredible human toll and financial cost a war would bring. I do believe that President Bush knows that Saddam Hussein is a brutal tyrant--and that there is increasing reason to believe that if left in place, Saddam will target the United States through funding and encouraging terrorism. Our president is trying to prevent this situation from occurring in the name of world peace alone. Nothing more, nothing less.
"Blood, Oil & Iraq," makes the case that President Bush's war in Iraq aims to improve the lives of Iraqis in a post-Saddam society. One would applaud such motives, but the improvement is hardly plausible. There might be thousands of deaths and many tenfold more refugees. And with the infrastructure blown to pieces, we will likely find large populations starving and without access to clean water and medical aid. Many will die. I think the country will likely fall apart, as the former Yugoslavia did, and there will be fighting among the many rival groups in Iraq. The Kurds will have problems with the Turkmens, while some from Iran will be happy to see their neighbor disintegrate into several smaller countries, which will be easier to control. And the U.S. forces are supposed to leave after a mere 90 days? Look at Afghanistan, where President Hamid Karzai is known locally as the Mayor of Kabul, and where the warlords have gone back to fighting each other. What makes the Bush administration think that it can handle Iraq better than Afghanistan? And, if so, why not do a better job there first? Is it right to try to force a whole region into three to five years of "temporary" chaos in order to do the good Bush thinks he will? It is not the war against Iraq that frightens the most, it is the "peace" afterward.
Knut Erik Hougen
If the U.S. interest in Iraq is only about oil, why doesn't Bush just attack Sudan? It would be a much easier target, and there would be plenty of oilfields to keep the U.S. government happy. Could it be that Bush and Tony Blair really do want to rid the world of a dangerous dictator and his lethal weapons and liberate the Iraqi people?
Hirsh dismisses the blood-for-oil accusation as illogical because the overall costs of the war "will far outweigh" the benefits of access to Iraq's oil. His argument is based on the naive view that Americans are all in this together and will equally share the burdens and benefits of a war in Iraq. Not so. Middle-class Americans will be burdened the most, as their hard-earned tax dollars pay for the war and the ballooning deficit. It will overwhelmingly be our family members who will die fighting in Iraq. Those standing to gain the most are Bush's cronies in the oil industry.
A Friend From the Neighborhood
Rob Long's wonderful accolade to Fred Rogers ("The Nicest Guy on TV," March 10) left out one thing that was important to children of all ages to hear--when Mr. Rogers looked out of the television screen and told every child watching, "I like you just the way you are." How revelatory. He was one of the good guys.
Phyllis Karin Ray
Thanks for your tribute to Mr. Rogers. His show helped me "parent" my sons on topics ranging from bad dreams to expressing emotions constructively. I could trust him to offer my children 30 minutes of TV viewing without being blindsided by some inappropriate media-hyped interlude. You offered a true picture of how a man of God conducts himself toward humanity.
Debra Sue Bruce
Ft. Collins, Colorado
The Gnosis of 'The Matrix'
In his summary of religious ideas influencing "The Matrix Makers" (Jan. 6), Devin Gordon misses the most obvious one: gnosticism. Gnostics taught that we are souls trapped in a prison-like material world by an evil divinity, kept unaware of our plight by its carnal seductiveness. Only those with the occult knowledge (gnosis) of the true state of affairs can transcend this prison and enter a higher reality. The good divinity dwelling above this evil realm aids the lost souls by sending a messenger of truth to reveal the deception. Replace archons with agents and magic with machine guns, and "The Matrix" is a virtual point-for-point retelling of the Gnostic myth.
Rabbi Geoffrey Dennis
Flower Mound, Texas
To cite only popular culture as an influence renders "The Matrix" merely a pop-culture phenomenon; it is much more. Comic books and cyberspace were contributing elements to the look and feel of the film, but the underlying philosophical principles are Marxist. A world of representation? A matrix that subjugates? The last film in the trilogy even includes the word "revolution" in its title. Critical theorist Jacques Lacan--quoted in the movie--coined "Welcome to the desert of the real." The film is more than cool Secret Service agents and a weak reference to Buddha.
Albert de Plazaola