Letter to the Editor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: World events often beyond our control

The offerings of Mr. Beveridge are always entertaining. His latest polemic (June 1) [“Democrats should take heat for conflicts”] is so outlandish, however, that a reality-based response is required. The 40th anniversary of the fall of Saigon must have taken the author down memory lane. But, really, spare parts would have saved the regime? The collapse of South Vietnam would have happened years before had it not been for the presence of over 500,000 brave American soldiers (plus a few thousand South Koreans and Aussies). Even after the assassination of President Diem in Nov. 1963, Saigon could never get it right. Corrupt and inept and lacking sufficient political support until the bitter end. I strongly believe in the first rule of digging: when you are in a hole, stop. Scroll forward to 2003. Prince Bandar and Prince Saud met with President Bush and tried to convince him not to invade Iraq; they did not believe the WMD claim (neither did the Mossad). They were right, yet Beveridge doubles down: Saddam got rid of his nuclear weapons just before the invasion. This is demagoguery. And it is risible to try to justify the invasion in part on the Halabjah chemical attack perpetrated by Saddam in 1988 when he was our ally against Iran. Polls show that Americans have concluded overwhelmingly that the invasion was a mistake. Republicans in particular feel betrayed and, thus, hold this view more strongly than any other group (76 percent). The final Status of Forces agreement with the Iraqi government was signed by President Bush in 2008. When it expired in 2011, the Obama administration sought an extension to permit the residual force that Beveridge mentions. But he fails to mention that the overture was rejected by the Iraqi Parliament that Americans gave their lives to establish. While the final withdrawal after eight years was unfortunate, it was the will of a now-sovereign ally and was strongly supported by the American people. To then suggest that ISIS sprung from this withdrawal is to blame the rooster for the dawn. The Islamic State is led by al-Baghdadi, one of Saddam’s former commanders. The Iraqi army was hastily dissolved in 2003 and al-Baghdadi was held at Camp Bucca until his release in December 2004. Eventually, he made his way to Syria, where ISIS took root with help from Saudi Arabia and Qatar. These American allies are bitter enemies of the Assad regime in Syria. How, exactly, would a force of 10,000 Americans have prevented the rise of the Islamic State in Syria? We need to stop blaming ourselves (or political rivals) for events that are beyond our control. It is useful, however, to acknowledge that a Judeo-Christian army is not likely to occupy a Middle Eastern country with positive results. The installation of the Shi’ite majority in Iraq has empowered Iran, with whom we reluctantly fight ISIS. Yet, we are with the Saudis and against Iran in Yemen. Welcome to the Middle East, where the enemy of your enemy is your friend. Usually. The toppling of Saddam upset an uneasy equilibrium, and unleashed the hounds of hell. There are more terrorists now than before. And we went down this road and borrowed every dime? The first rule of digging.

Craig Eliassen Dover

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