Reader Mail

Underwhelmed

Newdow done. Reagan and Iraq -- by all means. More from the Eastern Front. Plus: Teddy’s nemesis. Air Farce One. Bad Sam.

6.16.04

Send to Kindle

ABOVE GOD
Re: Tracy Robinson's A Newdow Is Dawning:

A couple of questions for the Michael Newdows of the world: What, pray tell, is the precise religion that the government is attempting to establish by having your child recite "under God." Catholicism? Greek Orthodoxy? Any of a dozen Protestant sects? Islam? If no single one of the above, or any other, then the Pledge does not offend against the non-establishment clause.

(What is wrong with me that this seems so clear-as-sunlight? Am I as primitive and simplistic in my thinking as the Founding Fathers? Isn't this finally all about hatred of God, anything spiritual, transcendent?) May the Supreme Court somehow cease their fine legalistic sidestepping, and find time and the backbone to keep the Newdows of the country from inflicting their impoverished, banal world view on the rest of us, and our children.
-- J. Erickson
Davidson, North Carolina

The Supreme Court is politically astute. They sidestepped this issue until after the election. The four liberals did not want to give evangelicals another reason to make sure they got to the polls. It's up to the Bush people to let them know the "issue" is not dead.
-- Annette Cwik

Tracy lays the Newdow case succinctly but I wish to touch something a little more personal. The Supremes did something else that is taking a back seat -- parental rights. The Court has traditionally deferred to the States on family court issues believing that is the proper venue. But here in the Newdow case they step squarely center stage on this issue. The tactic being that Newdow did not have parental authority as a means to avoid facing the establishment issue as presented in the case. Okay the flag won, but what about the thousands of divorced parents?

Considering that Newdow is in a ugly divorce/custody battle with his ex-wife, it was appropriate that the Court ruled as they did as custody in this case was unsettled. But the Court, from what I can gather, did not scope their remarks strictly to Newdow. So the question arises, with the door ajar, are the parental rights of noncustodial parents now in peril? Is it now possible that based on this ruling that any parent maybe told to buzz off by the courts simply because they are not the 'parent of record'? Or that a noncustodial parent cannot sign off on medical procedures for the child in an emergency?

I suspect that regardless of the outcome of the Pledge issue, the ruling of the Court on the custodial issue will seriously impact family issues in the future. The Court will have to at some future date reverse this decision to extract themselves from the unattended consequences.
-- John McGinnis
Arlington, Texas

NOT EVERYBODY LOVES SOMEBODY
Re: Shawn Macomber's Gathering Moss:

I enjoyed reading the column on Ted Kennedy and found it amusing. All was well until Macomber's reference to Dean Martin. I think linking Martin and Kennedy in the same sentence does a disservice to old Deano. You may recall that it was Martin who warned Frank Sinatra about the phoniness of the Kennedys.
-- Marc Frustaci
Hoboken, New Jersey

AIR FARCE ONE
Re: The Washington Prowler's Kerry Flies the Flag:

I'm glad that someone mentioned the artwork on Sen. Kerry's campaign plane. I have no doubt that he also chose the wording: "John Kerry President." Has anyone asked him about that?
-- Kitty Myers
Painted Post, New York

RON ON TO IRAQ
Re: Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clarke's Would Ronald Reagan Have Attacked Iraq?:

Of course he would have! His attack on Libya was a direct response to previous terrorism by militant Moslems! In light of the 9/11 Event, you better believe that he would have gone after Saddam. What the authors of this article fail to see is Reagan's basic beliefs about this country and protecting its freedom. Put Reagan and his political philosophy in the 2000s and George W. Bush in the 1980s and the results would have been the same.

The men who espoused the attack on Iraq worked throughout the Reagan Administration in various capacities. The core belief that connects Reagan and Bush is the belief in defending America and its liberty at all costs. Because the men lived and acted as President in two different eras they faced events that had dissimilar political terrain in which to act. Reagan had Communism as the main threat and an Islamic threat in its infancy. Bush faced and faces a full-blown Islamic threat to Western Civilization and a European/Holy Roman Empire threat in its infancy. In the coming months America and Great Britain/Australia/Canada will break away from Europe, politically. In 5 years NATO will be a shadow of its former self, there will be no UN to speak of, except in name only, and Russia and China will try to curry favor with both Europe and America/Great Britain/Australia/Canada. China and the U.S. will form a strong Pacific Rim association that will include Central and South America, as well as, all the countries bordering the Pacific. Russia will play both the European and American cards.

Bush and Cheney, et al., are the right team for the current era. They will overcome the Islamic threat by 2007. They will discourage China from joining with the Moslems to threaten Israel and the world balance of power. Peace will reign in the Middle East by 2008.

After that the World will face the coming Polar Shifts in 2011 through 2015. From 2009 through 2015 the world will have to prepare for and save itself from that 3-Day event that will truly change life as we know it, on this planet. There will be no threats from Global Warming.

If the Democrats win in November the whole dynamic will change and WWIII will occur and China and Islam will join forces and try to take over the world. Russia and Europe would then have to fight on the American/British side in order to save the planet from nuclear destruction.

Halper and Clark are wrong: Ronald Reagan would have done exactly what George W. Bush has done since 9/11, and do not let them tell you any different. They have been up in their Ivory Towers far too long to understand the reality of Reagan's political philosophy.
-- Ron Baker
Public Administration, 1979
Northern Kentucky University

Thank you for Stefan Halper and Jonathan Clark's article, "Would Ronald Reagan Have Attacked Iraq?" This is an important question that allows us to evaluate our current foreign policy. Having read through the article, and spent some time considering its points, I am unconvinced of its central premise that Ronald Reagan would not have attacked Iraq, nor am I convinced that attacking Iraq was wrong.

I believe the argument in the article rests on there being similarities between the threat provided by Soviet satellite nations and the threat provided by Middle Eastern countries gaining access to nuclear, chemical and biological weapons and using these weapons or providing these weapons to terrorists. The imposition of martial law in Poland did not increase the existing threat to United States security. Saddam Hussein's support of terrorist groups clearly threatened U.S. citizens and interests. Ronald Reagan did not need to face this threat at the magnitude that George Bush must.

The article seems to suggest the aim of toppling Saddam Hussein was to deliver Iraq to democracy as the beginning march to a utopian world order. I disagree. The war in Iraq was carried out to remove the threat of Saddam Hussein attacking U.S. interests through terrorism. Did Saddam Hussein have WMD? His nuclear capabilities were likely destroyed by President Clinton (oddly), chemical weapons have been found in small amounts, and the capabilities to produce these weapons have also been found. U.S. security has improved with Saddam Hussein removed from Iraq. Any doubts that I have about the Iraq war being not worth the costs are now being alleviated by Iran's growing threat. Can we/should we allow this threat to grow? Does anyone want to bet that we will not regret leaving this threat unchecked? In short, I view President Bush's foreign policy to be more about protecting the U.S. than I view it to be about establishing free peoples throughout the globe.

I do believe however that the President should waste no opportunities to support groups within nations such as Iraq and Iran that seek to overthrow the current governments. This was certainly something that Ronald Reagan did both through his words and deeds. Only President Bush and others in his administration know whether this was done and is currently being done in Iraq and Iran. If not, it needs to be, and can clearly be called Reaganesque. The U.S. faces imminent danger however, and time on these fronts is precious. We may not have the luxury of waiting while "rebel" groups do their work.

Ronald Reagan bombed Libya following the bombing of a Berlin discotheque. If I remember correctly, one American was killed, though the club was a known gathering spot for U.S. citizens. September 11, 2001 provided an attack on U.S. soil, in major American cities, in very populated targets. Three thousand Americans were killed. Toppling the governments of two nations guilty of supporting this action seems comparable to Reagan's response to the death of a single American.
-- Troy Boone

My, My, maybe Spectator's readers should write a book. I think we could do better than this:

Couple of things are different then vs. now. First, Reagan was dealing with a rational player in the strategic nuclear game. What use to either side to irradiate the apple if you intend to eat it later? Bush II is dealing with a gaggle of factious irrational players, none of which are under any central command. Second, Reagan realizing how the board was shaped simply took Khrushchev's "We will bury you..." line and said "go right ahead - if you can". The foe that Bush II faces is not so phased by delivery cost structures as a 10 year old Toyota pickup will do just as well as an ICBM for their purposes. Third, Reagan's pull out of Beirut pretty much answers the question up to a point. But keep in mind, the Beirut mission had the intent of stabilizing Lebanon. Bush II on the other hand has the unheralded task of preventing another attack on the US. This was not on Reagan's radar screen in Lebanon.

But if you put the equation another way. There are 10 mad fanatics each with a bomb capable of destroying your home. Each is independent and may select the time and method of their choosing to throw the bomb. If you defend and patrol you lose as it is highly unlikely that in 10 attempts at least one of the attacks is not successful. Or you may decoy a more tempting target and perform search and destroy to ferret out the attackers. Each take out reducing the attackers chance of success. Cast in that light Reagan would not hesitate to opt for the second course for he has a better chance to win. And winning is what he was always after.
-- unsigned

TO RUSSIA WITH WHAT?
Re: Ben Stein's Homage to the Eastern Front and Reader Mail's All Noise on the Eastern Front:

Ben Stein is quite correct in saying that the Soviet Forces contribution should have been acknowledged in the D-Day celebrations. Honest history requires this. Honest history also requires us to remember that when the Soviets entered Germany they raped every German woman, from eight to eighty, blind, crippled or crazy. It also requires we remember that the Allied Forces that fought to liberate Paris were stopped short of the goal they bled and died for, in order to allow a largely unblooded French force to liberate the city in order to preserve French sensibilities. It requires that we remember that the Eighth Air Force was relegated to daylight bombing despite the fact the British found it to be too costly in men and aircraft. It requires us to remember that a country thousands of miles away and an ocean apart laid and sacrificed the cream of its youth upon an alter named Normandy. It remains, as Andy Rooney once said "The most unselfish thing one nation ever did for another."
-- Scotty Uhrich
Glyndon, Minnesota

I have found the discussion of Ben Stein's piece on honoring the Soviet sacrifices during WW II to be quite interesting. First, yes, Stalin was bad. Really, bad. Coupled with the losses from WW I, the Communist civil war within Russia, the forced collectivization in the 1930s, and then the horrendous losses during WW II, no other country in the 20th century can compare with the population loss as in Russia during this 40 year time period. And yes, much of the population loss was directly due to Stalin, who dwarfs Hitler in the number of people he had killed.

Additionally, Stalin's aggressive expansion before being invaded himself in 1941 places him in the same aggressive category as Hitler. Poland, Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Rumania all fell victim to Stalin's aggressiveness. Yet, Hitler was bent on world conquest. Stalin preferred internal overthrow and only took military action due to Hitler's actions and intents. Stalin is not a person to admire for standing up to Hitler. Had Hitler not attacked Stalin, it is highly probable Stalin would have "stabbed" Hitler in the back after he had rebuilt his military after the terrible purges of the late '30s.

While Stalin does not merit our praise, the people who fought under Stalin's commissars do deserve our praise. For it was through their efforts with a great effusion of blood which here in the West cannot be comprehended, that the Wehrmacht, primarily the army, was bled to death in the depths of Russia. While Mr. Stein and many people point to Stalingrad as the turning point on the Ostfront, it can be argued that the failed summer offensive, Fall Barbarosa, and the first winter destroyed the German foot soldiers which the German Army, das Heeres, relied upon to hold the gains won by the Panzer troops. After this year, there were never enough foot soldiers to cover the vast distances on the Ostfront. The losses at Stalingrad and Kursk only highlighted the growing weakness of the Wehrmacht.

It is important to point out that all these losses occurred by the middle of 1943, before the western allies mounted a large continental presence in Europe. The Ostfront fell back significantly westward before the Allies finally landed in Normandy.

Should the Soviet effort have been recognized at Normandy? Not necessarily. The Normandy celebration was simply a celebration of the first significant land battle since the defeat of France in 1940. We must not forget the efforts in N. Africa, Sicily, and Italy. Unfortunately, Wehrmacht sources drawn to counter them were not significant in size. Yet, every effort to defeat the Nazis was important! Let's not forget the silent actions in the Atlantic Ocean through the British and American navies. Without their success, England would have fallen under the boot of Hitler and new world resources and armies would not have fought on land.

And so, how should we acknowledge all these efforts, including the critical effort of the eastern peoples? V-E day would be very appropriate. No one should claim primary responsibility for the defeat of the Nazis. It was truly a world effort. But do let us recognize the sacrifices the Soviet peoples made to meet us at the Elbe. They sustained the most horrendous losses than any other country. That this was highly influenced and contributed by their leader only further highlights the praise they deserve.
-- Keith A. Peregrine
Philo, Illinois

Ben Stein's "Homage" left me gasping. To paraphrase Mr. Stein, we stood "shoulder to shoulder" with the forces of international socialism against the forces of national socialism. Huh? Is that a good thing? Had Stalin been a little earlier initiating his drive West and wound up on the shores of the English Channel, with the Nazis holding some perimeter around Hamburg, would you today be talking about standing shoulder to shoulder with the Nazis in our fight to free Europe? And as for the millions killed on the Soviet side, well, that's the way of war in a slave state -- you throw bodies at the problem, your reliable people standing behind them with fixed bayonets pointed West to persuade the less enthusiastic. One can have sympathy for the predicament the Soviet slaves found themselves in, without jumping to the conclusion that they died nobly on behalf of Freedom's Great Crusade. (Can I still use that word "Crusade"?)

The Soviets took our people prisoner and spied against us far more effectively and devastatingly than the Germans, and enslaved parts of Europe decades longer than the Germans. A number of countries fought with the Nazis not out of sympathy for the National Socialist cause, but out of hate and fear of the Soviets. Were they wrong? As for genocide, the National Socialist party was a piker compared to the depth and breadth of state-sponsored murder perpetrated under the banner of International Socialism.

You must have read the Cliff Notes version of The Road to Serfdom before penning your missive. You missed a key point. Nazis and Communists -- two brands of the same product, regular and lemon-scented. We should have held off longer and let the philosophical cousins beat themselves (more) to a pulp -- without the huge logistics support we provided the Soviets -- then maybe they wouldn't have had the strength to enslave Eastern Europe at the end. We now have 60 years of from which to evaluate WWII and its aftermath -- no kindly references to "Uncle Joe" obscuring the nature of the Soviet Union. We were allies in only the most tendentiously circumscribed definition of the word. Better it were said we fought the same enemy. And, in that coincidence, there lies no obligation for honor.
-- Stephen Coyne

SODDEN SAM
Re: Wlady Pleszczynski's Precious Moments:

Thank you for your "Precious Moments" in which you quite rightly list the bad mouthed enemies of last week. Did you perchance overlook the remark of Sam Donaldson? No Thatcher admirer he. When commenting on the wonderful service in the National Cathedral he brushed aside Baroness Thatcher's beautiful and clearly heartfelt eulogy as "altogether too stuffy for an American audience."
-- Albert Ross
Oxford, North Carolina

Like this Article

Print this Article

Print Article