Lesser of two evils
I object to Bob Geary's inaccurate account of the war in Iraq (Citizen, April 16). Geary claims there was an alternative to the U.S.-led invasion, a Russian plan of inspections plus peacekeeping troops. Before the U.S. turned up the heat on Iraq, the plan of Russia, France, Germany, Iraq's neighbors, and nearly the entire rest of the world, was to ignore myriad U.N. resolutions and undermine the sanctions in order to profit by illegally trading with Iraq. The world had decided that Saddam Hussein's crimes weren't anything to get serious about. As far as I can tell, most of my fellow liberal Americans agreed. With American troops poised to invade, Russia and others talked a good game about inspections and containment, but I think it's wiser to judge them by their actions during the previous 11 years.
Geary also argues that Saddam could have been removed by a coup. No experts on Iraq, regardless of their views on the invasion, would agree. The CIA tried to cook up a coup for years and never figured it out (see Kenneth Pollack's book, The Threatening Storm).
Geary wants it both ways: no war and no Saddam. That wasn't one of the options on the table. Honest people chose whichever they saw as the lesser of two evils: 1) allow Saddam Hussein's reign of terror to continue for an unforeseeable number of years and try to deter him when he acquired nuclear weapons, or 2) invade to depose the regime, the price of which would be the chaos we are witnessing now and serious problems for an America that could hardly avoid the "imperialist" label.
I reluctantly chose not to oppose this war. My obligation now is to understand as best I can the horrible consequences of the war I half-heartedly supported. I appreciate those who chose peace but understood that their prayer was not one but two, "one uttered, the other not," praying aloud for peace and in silence for the continued oppression of the Iraqi people (my apologies to Mark Twain for reversing his "War Prayer").
Sons of the South
I would like to commend Jon Elliston for his balanced article about the League of the South ["Still Singing Dixie," April 16]. This article was a marked improvement over his previous article about the Sons of Confederate Veterans ("Dueling Rebs," Aug. 21, 2002) which, in my opinion, unfairly maligned that organization and some of its members based on their personal associations and based on hearsay from the Southern Poverty Law Center.
While I can't speak for other members of the League, I personally can accept being labeled a "disgruntled arch-conservative [who is] a mite bit too nostalgic for the Old South." What I cannot accept is the more typical "hate group" label, which is patently untrue with respect to either the League of the South or the Sons of Confederate Veterans. Again, Mr. Elliston is to be commended this time for choosing not to rely on the Southern Poverty Law Center as a source for an article on Confederate organizations.
My only problem with the article is that, while he lauds the Web site of the League's North Carolina chapter as "one of the few locations online where Right meets Left," Mr. Elliston did not name the Web site. It is http://www.TarheelLS.com
In "Still Singing Dixie," [April 16] Jon Elliston seemed amazed that the North Carolina League of the South's Web site (www.TarHeelLS.com) promotes the right of secession while criticizing the neo-cons' aggressive wars, and even described our site as "one of the few locations online where Right meets Left."
Well, what appears to be a shotgun wedding of ideas is really the modern-day version of the traditional Southern Cause, best enunciated by Robert E. Lee to Lord Acton as opposition to a powerful government "sure to be aggressive abroad and despotic at home." All the 19th- and 20th-century megastates but one have collapsed. They centralized power and wealth and brutalized their peoples using noble-sounding slogans about progress and equality to justify their actions. The U.S., despite its constitutional safeguards against centralization in the form of the Ninth and 10th amendments, is in the last leg of the same dead-end road traveled by the British Empire, Yugoslavia and the Soviet Union. Now that there are no other megastate competitors to justify Big Government in the U.S., the natural course of history is to devolve to city-states and region-states. However, the neo-cons are trying to hold their lucrative but undead monstrosity together by searching for monsters to slay at home and abroad, unconcerned about the resulting waste of human life and resources.
With intellectuals as diverse as Neal Peirce, Kenichi Ohmae, and Clyde Wilson agreeing that the U.S. military-industrial complex has outlived its day in the sun, it's not surprising that the real political divide today is not between liberal and conservative, but between local and leviathan. Authentic human values will be suppressed as long as Washington, D.C., artificially props itself up by postponing the natural trend toward local self-government.
Michael C. Tuggle
North Carolina League of the South