www.baltimoresun.com/news/opinion/readersrespond/bs-ed-iraq-letter-20120108,0,3079181.story

baltimoresun.com

Lessons learned in Iraq, Rwanda

9:00 AM EST, January 9, 2012

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Letter writer Paul R. Schlitz Jr. can't seem to grasp the fact that an acknowledgment of Iraq's potential to harbor weapons of mass destruction doesn't necessarily indicate current agreement with the decision to invade, nor does it require someone to justify the invasion ("Explain again why we invaded Iraq?" Jan. 4). It's simply an acknowledgment of the situation.

We do not invade every country that has the potential to produce WMD.

I would also point out that failure to acknowledge threats is no less dangerous than inflating threats. Mr. Schlitz's "head in the sand" policy has been tried before and is currently being advocated by Rep. Ron Paul. Witness the Holocaust.

Witness Rwanda in the 1990s. Despite full knowledge as to what was transpiring on the continent, President Bill Clinton failed to intervene in the Rwandan genocide because he feared the political bullying tactics of people like Mr. Schlitz. The result is that 800,000 or more Africans were slaughtered. Now, I'm not advocating that we should have invaded Africa (although Mr. Schlitz will certainly say so in his next letter), but there are obviously some steps that could have been taken if the will had been there.

The final chapters on Iraq will be written well in the future, and the Arab Spring and other unfolding Middle East events indicate that the Iraq war's influence on history is an emerging story, not yet etched in stone except in the minds of the cognitively feeble or intellectually dishonest. However, like many of the 70 percent of Americans who initially supported the war in Iraq, I now have some reservations. The price paid may well have been too high. That does not negate the fact that I firmly believe that Iraq had WMD potential, and that we almost certainly would have had to deal with them in the future in one way or another. President George H.W. Bush had the first Gulf war with Iraq. Mr. Clinton bombed Iraq in 1998. And President George W. Bush had his war. So let's not pretend Iraq was ever going to be Candyland while Saddam Hussein was alive, because it wasn't.

The Iraq War may well be an example of what happens when threats are inflated. Rwanda is what happens when threats are ignored. Full and accurate recognition of threats is imperative, not to be downplayed or ignored for political expediency or editorial justification.

Michael DeCicco, Severna Park