Though I have seen several good letters regarding the war in the past weeks, I have also seen a lot of half truths and falsehoods.
The most recent, sent by Jean Teal of Fort Wayne, Ind., truly smacks of inattention to education and history.
Ms. Teal asks, "Why are people fighting against the war?" and then states excitedly, "My gosh, our country was attacked by the ones we're fighting."
I assume that Ms. Teal is referring to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and possibly the attack on the U.S.S. Cole in Yemen.
The fact of the matter is that there were no Iraqis, or for that matter Afghanis, involved in either one of those attacks.
If you go through the list of senior Al Quaeda operatives, you will find no Iraqis or Afghanis. The United States has never, ever, been attacked by Iraq or Afghanistan.
The truth is that the United States in the past 18 months has, for right or wrong, brought war upon two sovereign nations that have not attacked us.
You may feel that this is justified (just as with the Native Americans in the 19th century, one dead Muslim is as good as another, right?), but the facts are still the facts.
While I firmly believe in, and I am committed to eliminating terrorists, terrorist organizations, and weapons of mass destruction (of which the United States and Russia have the largest stockpiles), I also believe that we must use facts to back up our zeal.
The majority of the criminal terrorists that flew into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Sept. 11, 2001 were Saudi. Until that day, the greatest loss of life from a terrorist attack on American soil was carried out by an American, a former United States Army soldier named Timothy McVeigh.
That is a fact. So I ask you Ms. Teal, whom should we be fighting?
Please check your history and facts. You might get an answer to your question, "Why are people fighting against the war?"
Lt. Cmdr. Daniel M. Jaffer
Against our traditions we are now entering upon an unjust and trivial war, a war against a helpless people, and for a base object -- robbery.
At first our citizens spoke out against this thing, by an impulse natural to their training. Today they have turned and their voice is the other way.
What caused this change?
Merely a politician's trick -- a high-sounding phrase, a blood-stirring phrase which turned their uncritical heads:
Our country, right or wrong!
An empty phrase, a silly phrase. It was shouted by every newspaper. It was thundered from the pulpit. The superintendent of public instruction placarded it in every schoolhouse in the land. The war department inscribed it upon the flag.
And every man who failed to shout it or who was silent was proclaimed a traitor. None but those others were patriots.
To be a patriot, one had to say, and keep on saying, "Our Country, right or wrong," and urge on the little war.
Have you not perceived that that phrase is an insult to the nation?
For in a republic, who is "the country?" Is it the government which is for the moment in the saddle? Why, the government is merely a servant -- merely a temporary servant.
It cannot be its prerogative to determine what is right and what is wrong and decide who is a patriot and who isn't. Its function is to obey orders, not originate them.
Who, then, is "the country?" Is it the newspaper? Is it the pulpit? Is it the school superintendent? Why, these are mere parts of the country, not the whole of it.
They have not command. They have only their little share in the command. They are but one in the thousand. It is in the thousand that command is lodged.
They must determine what is right and what is wrong. They must decide who is a patriot and who isn't.
Who are the thousand? That is to say, who are "the country?" In a monarchy, the king and his family are the country. In a republic, it is the common voice of the people.
Each of you, for himself, by himself and on his own responsibility, must speak.
And it is a solemn and weighty responsibility, and not lightly to be flung aside at the bullying of pulpit, press, government or the empty catch-phrases of politicians.
Each must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong and which course is patriotic and which isn't.
You cannot shirk this and be a man.
To decide it against your convictions is to be an unqualified and inexcusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country.
Let men label you as they may.
If you alone of all the nation shall decide one way, and that way be the right way according to your convictions of the right, you have done your duty by yourself and by your country.
Hold up your head! you have nothing to be ashamed of.
Your paper carried a story about Mark Twain last week.
Above is what he had to say about American military adventures and war protests in 1906.
Strange how human beings never learn.
I feel compelled to write in response to two recent letters I found both substantial and affirming of my values that go beyond "taking sides" or getting stuck in an "us/them" mentality, even amongst ourselves.
I am writing in response to two statements published in the April 3 edition of the Itemizer-Observer -- one a letter by Lt. Col. Bill McCammon and the other a guest opinion by Lt. Cmdr. Daniel M. Jaffer.
Both of these men are affiliated with our armed forces and both encourage a kind of patriotism marked by the free and passionate expression of opinion, even if not our own.
I honor these concepts as respect for the beliefs, values and opinions of others end appreciate them especially coming from people with military experience.
I am wondering how many of us realize the division and suffering that come from this level of conflict.
Not only are we torn by the visual and auditory images we're seeing, but the ambivalence we're experiencing as a culture is invasive and disturbing -- similar to what many of us felt during the war in Vietnam.
Apart from "military strategy" and "advanced weaponry," the truth of war is that human beings are killed, maimed and left with a kind of trauma that some people are never relieved of, whether civilian or military.
So many soldiers return with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, along with other symptoms of traumatic experience.
Because of this, there is no "win" situation in a war because the casualties are always on both sides and long-term.
A primary focus of my work is with trauma survivors who continue to experience the life-invading aftereffects of woundedness -- both adults and children who have experienced more that they could reasonably deal with using normal psychological processes.
Magnify this by multitudes and grieve for the "victims" of our current national policy.
I can only hope that our government will recognize the human need following this war for both psychological and spiritual services as our military and the people of Iraq try to reclaim their lives.
In a recent letter to the editor, Fred Brown stated that "to have discourse both sides must be willing to listen and consider the thoughts of the other side," when speaking of the people who are for and against the war in Iraq.
As someone who fully supports our troops and the war, I say to Mr. Brown that the thoughts of anti-war protesters are not worth considering.
Anti-war protesters should spend some time reading newspapers, watching coverage of the war on television, and doing some research online to understand why exactly we have our brave me and women in this war. The Iraqi government is a monstrous, inhumane regime, who does support terrorism, who does hold weapons of mass destruction and who does have ties with Osama bin Laden and the Al-Quaida terrorist group.
This war isn't about oil, and to believe that it is about oil shows how incompetent anti-war protesters really are. This regime doesn't even bother to feed its own people. If people disagree with the regime's policy, they are gassed, or killed by some other means.
Anti-war protesters also don't acknowledge the fact that the reason they have the right to express their "opinion" is because of our brave and heroic military, fighting dictators and oppressors such as Saddam Hussein to ensure that we have the freedom to do and say what we want.
So I will say it again. Anti-war protesters need to shut their mouths and start giving our troops the support they deserve. Obviously Mr. Brown is one of many so-called "Americans" who support the way Hussein and his regime have treated the Iraqi people, and Iraq's neighbors.
Mr. Brown also claims that pro-war individuals feel comfortable "threatening" those who might wish to exercise their Constitutional right to express themselves and that their method of supporting the Constitution is to trample on it.
Excuse me, but if anyone is trampling on the Contitution, it is the foolish anti-war protesters. Do some research, be informed and know what the facts are before opening your mouth against a military and a government that provides and supports your freedom.
If this still isn't clear to you anti-war protesters, it wouldn't surprise me, as the majority of you aren't that intelligent to begin with. I continue to support our troops and our government because I am a real American who is well educated and well informed.
Baldwin City, Kan.