Not Brainwashed -- I am a military member and, contrary to popular belief, I am not a brainwashed soldier who defends the ideas of our leaders. It is hard to give my opinions on the war in Iraq to civilians because of the uniform I wear. The common response is, "Are you sure, or is that just what they tell you?" I watch the mass media and read books (yes, books) just like the liberal-instructed college students. So why is my opinion invalid?
Unlike many anti-war protestors, I base my opinions on real-world experience. I have served three tours in Operation Southern Watch in Saudi Arabia. I have talked to pilots who have been shot at over Iraq in the last 10 years and seen intelligence footage of refrigerated trucks driving into factories with armed guards.
I have also seen France's fencepost approach to world affairs. The French, and a good share of Americans, accuse us of being oil-hungry war-mongers. What do these people say to celebrations in the streets during the liberation of Baghdad? What do they say to the stories of the executions, prisons and torture chambers?
How hard is it to believe that oil is not our number one motive? Three percent of the world's oil supply? That's not worth the lives of our soldiers, airmen, marines and seamen. It's not worth civilian casualties. I'm sorry if it's too "right-wing" of me, but I see justification. I see more to the war than political agenda and gas prices. I don't know, maybe I'm just brainwashed.
Fairchild AFB, Wash.
Retort on Tort Reform -- I read with interest your article on the costs of medical malpractice insurance, ("Operation: Tort Reform," 4/10/03). As an individual who spent 18 years working in the Middle East, I am shocked about the costs of medical care here in the U.S., and in Washington state, specifically. As one who paid less than $100 a month for medical insurance when I worked in the Middle East, and paying over three times that amount here, it is appalling to see how factors such as excess tort judgments have driven up medical care costs.
Your article did put it very well that "unlimited" malpractice awards lead to "unlimited" malpractice insurance premiums to doctors and hospitals. That is ultimately reflected in the price that the insured pay for health insurance. Less insurance means more people are uninsured, and that means more emergency room visits, which are paid for by people who are insured absorb the costs.
Add to this the doctors who ultimately drop out of practice due to excessive malpractice insurance premiums, and yes, there is a crisis. Given that Idaho recently passed medical malpractice reform legislation, I would not be surprised to see a number of clinics and practitioners jump ship out of Spokane, and move to North Idaho just to stay in business.
I fervently hope that federal medical tort reform legislation does pass in the future so that all states will have an equal footing.
Henry G. Huestis
Is Syria Next? -- Our president has claimed that safety is really the issue in attacking Iraq. He has stopped Saddam Hussein from being able to sell his weapons of mass destruction to terrorist groups that could use those weapons against U.S. citizens or other westerners.
I have traveled internationally in the past; I have lived peacefully here in the U.S., and have lived in Europe. I was very frightened after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, as were most Americans. However, I do not feel any safer now that we have "liberated" Iraq from Saddam Hussein's wicked rule. I certainly do not feel safer sitting in my home watching the news, wondering if now the Bush Administration will start a preemptive attack on Syria, without any evidence of their wrongdoing. I am more fearful now than ever before.
Syria sent troops to fight with the U.S. in the 1991 Persian Gulf War. As a member of the U.N. Security Council, Syria also voted in favor of resolution 1441, which demanded that Iraq disarm. The real issue with Syria is not that they have any chemical weapons or are harboring any wanted Iraqis. It is that Syrian President, Bashar Assad, has defended Palestinian suicide bombings.
There is only one country in the Middle East that is known to possess nuclear warheads and chemical and biological weapons. This country is in violation of over 30 U.N. resolutions. The country is Israel.
As American citizens, we need to start questioning our leadership and demanding evidence instead of blindly agreeing with those in charge. If we just blindly follow the Bush administration into war after war after war, how many people will die? How much more terrorism will be created? Question authority and demand evidence. It is patriotic, and it is the American way.
Democracy, not Occupation -- Installing Iraqi exiles with little influence in a post-war regime without the cooperation of allies or the UN, in my eyes, increases the following risks:
1) Allies will be alienated and less likely to give reconstruction support and donations.
2) Arab countries will be alienated and acts of terrorism may increase.
3) Humanitarian relief will be less effective, because the Pentagon neither has the experience nor the intent to provide long-term, efficient relief.
I believe a truly democratic example for the Iraqi people and the Arab world would be for international UN forces to stabilize post-war Iraq and then facilitate and support the Iraqi people in governing themselves. The Iraqi people deserve to experience a real example of democracy.