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Letters to the editor, 04/20/03

Sunday, April 20, 2003

As one who escaped Saddam's regime, I finally know freedom

I am a native of Iraq, and I have held my silence for 12 years. I escaped the brutality of Saddam Hussein's regime in 1991. I have been in the United States since 1994. Although I was here and escaped the torture of this regime, I never felt free inside my soul.

The first feeling of true freedom I felt was when I witnessed my people pulling down the statue of Saddam Hussein. That was the day Iraqis knew they were going to be free. How could I feel any real freedom knowing about the life I left behind and that my people, my country, were still suffering? I could not, sadly enough. I just never felt free until the day that I knew the Iraqi people felt the shackles being taken off.

No one can really understand how this day felt except we Iraqi people, who have long suffered under the regime of Saddam. This moment will be the one in all Iraqi people's lives that will be cherished and remembered the most.

I want to extend my deepest gratitude to the U.S. military for all of their brave efforts in helping my people in Iraq. I want to thank them for all they have done for us. Believe me, Iraqis never forget when someone helps them. They will always be grateful for the bravery and perseverance of the U.S. military and Mr. George W. Bush.

When you hear other Arab countries saying things in regard to the Iraqi people, just ask them this (and I give you my personal guarantee they will have nothing to say): Where were all the Arab countries when Saddam Hussein bombed the dikes in southern Iraq, and we were begging for just a simple glass of water? Where were they when Saddam killed thousands of his own people with chemical weapons? Where were they when Saddam was systematically killing Iraqi people and burying their remains without any notification to the families of his victims? Some people still don't know what happened to their family members.

American people, know from this day forward we are not just a friend to the United States of America -- we are united.

ABDULLAH ALKHUZAI
Overbrook

Editor's note: An article about Mr. Alkhuzai appeared in the Post-Gazette on April 11 ("Video of His Beating by 'Chemical Ali' Painful Souvenir for Iraqi").


The enemy I fear

As much as I would like to share in the celebratory mood as I watch the scenes being broadcast on television from Iraq, I am having a little trouble joining in the current national triumphalism. If this moment of satisfaction buys us no more than a transient and unreliable peace, then we were all wrong in our calculations of how to bring lasting security to a chronically insecure region of the world.

I would imagine that the government and people of Israel have celebrated in much the same manner at various moments throughout their short and violent history, when they triumphed over their enemies. But even the most ardent hawk would have to agree that this is a war beyond the person of one nasty, awful, ugly, hopefully-burning-in-hell-dictator.

The enemy I most fear remains nameless, faceless, angry and able to topple tall buildings and blow up babies on buses with box cutters and suicide bombers impervious to military might.

I never for a moment imagined we wouldn't "win" this war. What I worry about is the wars that most certainly will come after it.

I remain in prayer, neither hawk nor dove nor even "peacenik," but a worried mother of two small children.

SUSAN M. ROTHENBERG
Shadyside


Kick out the U.N.

Now that the courage and skill of the U.S.-led coalition has liberated Iraqis from an evil regime, our next step should be to liberate ourselves from the United Nations by kicking it out of New York City. The United Nations has become so perverted by so many anti-American leftist socialists as well as leaders like French President Jacques Chirac and U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan that you would think these people were actors in Hollywood.

These people, who claim to support democracy, are so clearly threatened by the abundance of heroic leadership in the United States (i.e., Bush, Powell, Franks, Rumsfeld) that they would rather support rogue states that harbor terrorists than take the hard road of embracing democratic ideals.

Furthermore, it is unbelievable that these people would expect to have any say in a postwar Iraq when it was they who tried to sabotage the liberation in the first place. Pittsburgh's own Dennis Miller said it best: "I took a tour of the U.N. the other day and even the tourbook was spineless."

BARRETT DONOVAN
Sewickley


About winds of change

As the statue of Saddam Hussein was felled and paraded through the streets of Baghdad, many people recalled the 1989 images of German citizens hammering on the Berlin Wall, misty-eyed as they were reunited with relatives and friends after decades of separation. These dramatic images, the so-called "winds of change," will forever be symbolized as the death of oppression and suffering, and also the anticipated birth of a new territory of the people and for the people.

However, we should view these events as only the first piece of a very complex puzzle that will be difficult to assemble. Communism is still alive, and the fractured remnants of the former Soviet Union have not yet assembled as a peaceful region. Perhaps a decade from now we can judge today's decisions and whether they were, indeed, the correct decisions.

The winds of change are ferocious but eventually diminish to a gentle breeze.

THEODORE LLOYD BURKETT
Greensburg


Words of wisdom

I'd like to thank Dennis Roddy for his views on the propriety of "war by assassination" ("Target Saddam: The Dangers of War by Assassination," April 13). To this point, I hadn't seen anyone question the morality of our targeting of Saddam for death.

Saddam Hussein was, maybe is, surely an evil man. He also was the commander of the armed forces of Iraq and, as such, a "legal" target for cruise missiles and bombs. Still, making him a specific target, and his death an objective, represents the first time that the United States has marked a head of state for death. I find that morally troubling.

Does the fact that the intended victim is evil himself make assassination an acceptable act? Assassination is, no matter who the target, assassination.

I was raised to believe that "the ends do not justify the means." The targeting of Saddam, twice, seems to stand that view on its head.

I agree entirely with Mr. Roddy's words: "Great idea. Now forget it."

SCOTT D. HILL
Beaver


The just-war doctrine

In recent weeks, many letters appearing on this page have made reference to the concept of the "just war." It seems a brief review is needed.

The just-war doctrine is traced from Augustine (354-430) through Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) to Martin Luther (1483-1546). The criteria set forth can be summarized as follows.

There must be: a just cause, which could include defense of vital security interests; a just intention, e.g., restoration of peace; a probability of success; and proportional objectives: the importance of benefits derived must outweigh expected risks, losses and damage. Also, it must be done as a last resort, and legitimate authority must declare it (see Romans 13). In addition, the principle of discrimination always differentiates between civilians and military personnel.

Interestingly, Aquinas discussed the concept of a "just war" under the theme of charity, or love. "War . . . can be a means to a just peace as well as a means to destroy an unjust peace. We keep a just peace and fight just wars because these are acts of . . . love" toward our neighbor in need (from David Wollenburg, "An Introduction to Just War Concepts" at www.csl.edu/cjjan03.pdf).

Applying this teaching to the current conflict in Iraq, it is easy to understand how many, including prominent leaders within the Roman Catholic Church, the Lutheran Church and other bodies have concluded that coalition forces are, indeed, waging a "just war" against Saddam Hussein and his followers. I welcome discussion.

REV. ERIC R. ANDRAE
Campus Pastor
First Trinity Lutheran Church
Oakland


Crime against civilization

I am deeply saddened to learn of the looting of the National Museum of Iraq in Baghdad, a tragedy that with a little forethought could have been prevented.

My wife and I travel extensively to visit museums in other countries. The value of understanding other cultures through their history is a key to understanding our own place in history. Without an awareness of other canons of beauty we can hardly make an informed judgment about the relative merits of our own.

It is understandable that the first priority of the administration of a war is to accomplish the mission. But what a black mark against us when we rush hundreds of troops to protect oil wells but can't afford to post a few soldiers to guard the priceless artifacts of Mesopotamian culture. This is truly a crime against civilization!

The myopia of our leaders is revealed by their negligence in permitting this disaster, and future generations who write our history will put us in our place: just another mailed fist.

MICHAEL BERGER
Director
Michael Berger Gallery
Shadyside


The agenda unmasked

The Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld agenda is now clear: Have U.S. troops protect the oil fields and the Iraqi oil ministry building, but let the looters have at the hospitals and the art museum. Oil rules! Humanity loses.

Kudos on publishing the "Non Sequitur" comic strip on April 12. It makes my point!

ELLEN DETLEFSEN
Oakland


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