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Let’s prevent millions of body bags

Tom Rippinger | Tuesday, November 11, 2003

Frankly, Gary Caruso’s negative one-sided cynicism has trivialized what should be an important foreign policy debate. His Nov. 7 column shocked me with its callous nature. I am unashamedly a Republican, and I have many friends who are Democrats. I don’t judge a person by party, but I cannot stand ignorance and cynicism. The heart of a democracy is reaching across party lines and working for the true public good.

First off, he entitles his column, “How many more body bags, President Bush?” I don’t have to explain the tactlessness of this title. When I see 15 soldiers die for their country, I consider that a tragedy to be mourned. To trivialize the deaths of these brave men is classless.

Democrats are equally responsible for the safety of the troops over in Iraq. With the exception of Howard Dean, the major democratic contenders for 2004 all supported action against Iraq’s WMD program last year based on the same intelligence as Bush.

I would much rather give our intelligence community the benefit of the doubt before I trust the word of Saddam Hussein on Iraq’s WMD program. Their entire western half of the country is nothing but desert that could be used to hide weapons, and it would be like finding a needle in a haystack if Saddam decided to the move them before the war during the inspections.

Caruso claims Clinton couldn’t do anything against terror during his administration because he was too busy defending himself from Kenneth Star. This was one year of his presidency out of eight. During the other seven, he reduced the budget of the military and CIA substantially, limiting the manpower we had with many terrorist threats.

As Bush has said, this war is much broader than weapons of mass destruction. These soldiers are dying to bring democracy to the Middle East. Terrorists have shown their resolve with airplanes full of civilians. Can we afford to allow authoritarian regimes to proliferate, perhaps allowing these same men access to chemical, biological or even nuclear material?

Say what you will about his intelligence, but Bush is a rationally-minded human being. Sure, you can engage the international community, and this should always be encouraged.

However, there are certain junctures in history, such as the time between the world wars, in which disaster could have been avoided with quick action.

Look into the future. If this war prevents the development of just one deadly biological weapon, or even a small nuclear terrorist attack, the lives of these brave young men and women are preventing the deaths of millions.

Broader democracy in the Middle East is the only way to true security in the future. Right now, the result of the 2004 election is the last thing I am worried about. When facing this type of enemy, you must strike hard, and you must strike first, before he gets the opportunity.

Tom RippingerjuniorSt. Edward’s HallNov. 9