June 19, 2006

Answering David Brooks: An Unnecessary and Immoral War

Just yesterday, I had a few comments of my own about David Brooks's latest op-ed column.

As a followup, here are two noteworthy letters to the NYT. The first:
To the Editor:

Re "Pessimism Without Panic," by David Brooks (column, June 18):

I am a former marine who has taught Middle Eastern studies for the last 20 years. I take Mr. Brooks at his word when he says that he knows 20 or 30 people "whose judgments have been vindicated by events" who agree that we should stay the course in Iraq.

But my judgment was vindicated, too.

A month before the start of the war, I told my students that we would almost certainly face a protracted guerrilla war after the collapse of Iraq's Army; that no Western power in the last century has ever defeated an indigenous insurgency; and that it was folly to believe that our troops would be greeted as liberators.

And I was not alone in that judgment.

If Mr. Brooks is interested, I can hook him up tomorrow with another 20 or 30 nonpartisan experts who believe that our invasion of Iraq will be remembered as one of the great foreign policy miscalculations of the 21st century.

Peter R. Obermark
Cincinnati, June 18, 2006
And the second:
To the Editor:

That some of David Brooks's "personal War Council" believe that "success is still plausible" in the Iraq war simply shows how callous some of our mainstream policy analysts have become toward the value of individual human lives.

After all, this war has already caused the deaths of up to 100,000 Iraqi civilians and about 2,500 American troops. Thousands more have been seriously wounded, and the cancer-causing dust spread by the use of depleted-uranium weapons will affect the health of Iraq's inhabitants for decades.

The verdict is already in, and thankfully, most Americans agree: This unnecessary and immoral war was a deadly mistake. The moral task now is to end it with as little loss of additional human life as possible.

Eliot Katz
Astoria, Queens, June 18, 2006
In my view, and even though both letters are excellent, the second is the more important of the two, and it speaks to the most significant issues. It echoes the theme of my essay from earlier today, "Of Fundamental Moral Principles, and the Value of a Single Human Life."