Sincerely Yours?

To the Editor: I would like to take this opportunity to respond to Tekla Frates’ April 29 editorial column, “American Offense a Good Defense,” which I just read on the Vermont Cynic website. Many thoughts shot through my mind as I read Ms. Frates’ column and I hardly know where to begin. Firstly, isn’t Vermont one of the most progressive and alternative-thinking states in the country? As I sit here typing this response, the word Cynic stares at me from the corner of my computer screen. The only cynicism I pull from Ms. Frates’ column, however, seems to be directed at the dissenters – the protestors. Am I to take from her column that the motives of those protestors are not sincere? I feel compelled to ask Ms. Frates if she took the time to go down to Church Street and ask the “No War For Oil” picket-holders about their reasons for protesting the American military strike against Irag. Maybe she could have cited her own conversations with those working overseas to help initiate a meaningful dialogue about the issues rather than blast an attack from her computer. Ms. Frates states, “It is easy to sit in the comfort of our own living rooms and to say that war is not an option.” Well, those protestors left their living rooms for at least enough time to take to the streets with their opinions. It seems a bit hypocritical to base the bulk of her argument for military action on the fact that our government is, in her words, “fighting for the freedom of others.” She then refers to 9/11 because there is the possibility for future terrorist attacks. She states, “There is nothing more important than standing up for our country and our freedom.” Which is it? Are we fighting for them or for us? So, the military is building classrooms and supplying food for the people in Iraq. Are we to feel pride that we are helping to REBUILD that which we destroyed as an act of chivalry, rather than an obvious reaction to the hundreds of missiles and bombs that we dropped in civilian areas of the country? Yes, the Iraqi people have been oppressed for many years, but let us not forget that our government has had specific information about the atrocities of Saddam Hussein and his regime for over 20 years and did nothing, unless it specifically benefited our leaders politically and/or economically. Our current defense secretary, Donald Rumsfeld, visited Iraq in the early 80s, shook hands with Hussein and promised him that America would look the other way regarding the dictator’s chemical warfare against his Kurdish population if he would continue his war with Iran. Ms. Frates states, “I truly believe [Bush] has just a little more access to information than you do.” Mr. Bush, his father, Clinton and Reagan all knew what was going on. Our government only acted, or reacted, when they knew it wouldn’t hurt them politically – thank you Osama Bin Laden. As for the comparison to Hitler: years after the Nuremberg Race Laws, which essentially stripped the Jewish population in Germany of ALL their rights, America proclaimed neutrality. After five years of Holocaust, the American military finally landed on the beaches of Normandy. Roosevelt did know what Hitler was doing. He waited until Pearl Harbor was attacked before he got involved. Today, we are told that our government may have exaggerated the amount of intelligence information they had concerning Iraq’s possession of weapons of mass destruction. Why would our president mislead the public if he genuinely felt that military action was justified because of Hussein’s horrific acts against his own people? I think this is where a proper separation needs to be addressed. No one is arguing the fact that our soldiers are providing desperately needed aid to the sick and hungry people of Iraq. What we are questioning – and should as responsible Americans – are the motives behind these humanitarian deeds. Who stands to gain from an oil-rich country that has no formal system of government or means to defend itself? Certainly not Vice President Cheney, right? As CEO of the Halliburton energy corporation, he helped increase government contracts for the company by 91% since 1997. In 2000, just before he became the second most powerful individual in the world, Cheney’s income from Halliburton reached $36,086,635. It seems obvious to me that the “world peace” Ms. Frates believes we all are asking for will never be achieved through an oppressive and capitalist-based foreign policy. Perhaps a few of the protestors on Church Street share this opinion and saw a war with Iraq as part of a continuing trend towards a global economy, a notion our leaders seem all too anxious to promote. After all, the central motivation for those terrorists who flew planes into buildings in New York City and Washington, D.C. stemmed from their frustration with the westernization of their homelands. How many Muslims has Ms. Frates spoken with? Does she think they’re already craving Starbuck’s coffee and Hooter’s buffalo wings? My point, if I must summarize, is that, just as she feels there is more to the issue than simply, “No war for oil,” there is also much more to the issue than just, “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” If President Bush feels so compassionate about the oppressed Iraqi population, why has he yet to visit the region? Ms. Frates’ motivations for a free and democratic Iraq, or Afghanistan, or even North Korea, may be genuine, but I think it is our duty as Americans to doubt that our leaders invoke that same sincerity. Why not make them prove it to us?Thank you for your time.Erik Mauck