Mark Danner

The Struggles of Democracy and Empire

Multiple Authors

When a Democracy Weighs War (4 Letters)

To the Editor:

Mark Danner is correct to emphasize the boldness of the Bush administration’s plans for a new “crusade” and “the magnitude of its risks” (“The Struggles of Democracy and Empire,” Op-Ed, Oct. 9). In addition, there is serious question whether a sufficient legal and ethical motive presently exists for an aggressive invasion of Iraq.

In the first Persian Gulf war, Iraq was clearly the aggressor, and a military response was fully justified under international law. If the United States now attacks Iraq without further provocation, the legal and moral requirement of defending against an armed attack would be absent.

Nobody says that Iraq was responsible for the nightmare of Sept. 11. There is little doubt that the United States has the power to win a war against Iraq, but the justifications given to date do not provide the necessary legal and ethical motive.

Cambridge, Mass., Oct. 9, 2002

To the Editor:

Re: “The Struggles of Democracy and Empire,” by Mark Danner (Op-Ed, Oct. 9):

How can we hope to encourage democracy abroad when our own democracy is flagging? Is it not time for the Bush administration to demonstrate that it values freedom, equality and the other democratic virtues at home as much as it claims it does in its plans for Iraq and other Middle East nations?

Santa Barbara, Calif., Oct. 9, 2002

To the Editor:

Mark Danner (Op-Ed, Oct. 9) has offered an intriguing reason for the Bush administration’s eagerness to engage in warfare against Iraq. But if democracy does not work, the administration might justify a long-term occupation of that nation on the grounds of securing peace in the Middle East, maintaining stable oil prices and creating a first-line defense against Islamic terrorists.

In the name of those objectives, the American people would most likely be willing to pay billions of dollars a year, as long as it seems that American soil is secure from the likes of Osama bin Laden. We should not forget that the United States has a long history of military occupation in the Caribbean and Central America in the name of democracy and stability in the region. Why should Iraq and the Middle East be any different?

Chatham, N.J., Oct. 9, 2002

To the Editor:

If Mark Danner (Op-Ed, Oct. 9) is correct, we face a very frightening future and one for which we are in no way prepared. Is it possible that the American people are being led blindly down the garden path toward the sacrifice of their sons, their daughters and their treasure in order to further the aims of ideologues who want to remake the world in their own idiosyncratic image?

I sincerely hope not, yet the tone of our leaders does seem strangely at odds with what has worked in the postwar world. We won a great victory in the cold war and had a big defeat in Vietnam. Are we sidelining a winning strategy and repeating a losing one?

Pleasantville, N.Y., Oct. 9, 2002