Opinion | Looking Back, Was the Iraq War Justified?

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To the Editor:

Re “I Don’t Regret Supporting the Iraq War,” by Bret Stephens (column, March 22):

Mr. Stephens doesn’t address one of the most significant consequences of the war, the strengthening of radical Islamic terrorist groups.

I supported the first war with Iraq when we drove the Iraqis out of Kuwait after their 1990 invasion, and if the war had included getting Saddam Hussein at the time, it could have made sense. I supported invading Afghanistan in an effort to get Osama bin Laden. We had clear moral reasons for both of those wars.

But the invasion of Iraq for weapons of mass destruction made no sense. It was a different situation, and I opposed it from the start. How could we say we had a good moral reason when we weren’t providing any evidence?

It was obvious to me that we had no clear definition of what Saddam Hussein and his government would be replaced with, that we would have great difficulty ever leaving and that when we did leave the country, whatever we put into place would probably collapse because it would not be supported by the people of Iraq. This all happened.

I also thought it was clear that the rest of the Muslim world would see this as an attack against all Muslims, helping radicals recruit more Muslims to their ranks, but was surprised by the degree to which this happened.

I submit that the damage done to our country and the rest of the world far outweighs any good that came out of that war.

Mark Flock
Norwalk, Wis.

To the Editor:

Bret Stephens justifies America’s invasion of Iraq by saying “Iraq, the Middle East and the world are better off for having gotten rid of a dangerous tyrant.”

OK, sure, the world is better off without him. But what kind of justification is that? Should we now invade the many other countries that are led by dangerous tyrants because the world would be better off without them? Or should we perhaps hold off on invasions unless there’s a clear and present threat to the U.S.?

Jeff Burger
Ridgewood, N.J.

To the Editor:

I find Bret Stephens’s lack of regret regarding Iraq unsettling.

I am 70 years old, and the most important lesson of my generation was from Vietnam: You cannot nation-build by military force. What you end up with is a dysfunctional quagmire, and that is indeed what we have today in Iraq.

The cost was huge — about 4,500 young Americans died, about 32,000 wounded in action. The price tag was close to $2 trillion. The human cost to Iraq was much worse, close to half a million deaths by some estimates.

To suggest that the cost in lives and dollars was worth it to rid the world of a tyrant is shocking to me.

George Santayana famously said, “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” I sincerely hope we don’t make this mistake a third time.

Bill Peterson
Sandy, Utah

To the Editor:

On the 20th anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, Bret Stephens still stands by it, yet his argument is weak.

The best case against the invasion was not that it would strengthen Iran (though it did), but that no nation has a right to invade another without legal and moral justification, and it turned out that the U.S. had none. The rationale then was that Iraq was violating U.N. resolutions by secretly maintaining weapons of mass destruction, which we now know was not true. Without that, the invasion was illegal and morally unjustified.

Mr. Stephens argues that he still supports the invasion because “Iraq, the Middle East and the world are better off for having gotten rid of a dangerous tyrant.” But that boils down to might makes right: The U.S. can invade and topple Saddam Hussein because it has the military power to do so.

Tim Collier
Gardiner, Maine

French Fury Against Macron Over Retirement Age

To the Editor:

Re “In France, the Damage Can’t Be Undone,” by Cole Stangler (Opinion guest essay, March 25):

France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, has undoubtedly been maladroit in his handling of the retirement age issue, as Mr. Stangler points out. But the merits of Mr. Macron’s proposal are compelling.

France’s pension program will run out of money as the population ages and the ratio of workers to retirees diminishes. Further, France’s current retirement age of 62 is the lowest among its peers in Europe (which mostly run from 65 to 67).

By toughing out the demonstrators, Mr. Macron is risking ruining his presidency to do the right thing for his country.

Contrast this with the actions of another leader, Bibi Netanyahu, also facing massive demonstrations against his policy of weakening the Israeli judiciary, a key institution providing checks on the power of the executive and legislative branches of government.

Though he is now delaying any action, Mr. Netanyahu has seemed perfectly content to throw his country under the bus in order to avoid being prosecuted for corruption.

Daniel R. Martin
Hartsdale, N.Y.

To the Editor:

Re “Macron Draws Anger Not Just for Law, but for His Monarch-Like Disposition” (news article, March 25):

I am mystified that people aren’t talking about the obvious alternative to raising the retirement age in France to keep the system financially afloat: increase social security taxes on the wealthiest French.

President Biden proposed just such a solution this month to keep Medicare solvent for at least 25 years. It would appeal to the French working class, which feels so abused by President Emmanuel Macron and his government, as they seem more concerned with protecting the benefits of the French upper class.

Stephen Bingham
San Rafael, Calif.

The N.C.A.A. and the Student-Athlete

To the Editor:

Re “The N.C.A.A. Ensures the Biggest Losers Are the Players,” by Bomani Jones (Opinion guest essay, March 24):

I have long thought that college athletes should be compensated. I imagine a bank account for each athlete that the school would create. The amount of money to be deposited annually and the conditions that apply would be determined by a committee of faculty and administrators and paid to each student upon graduation or at such time as the committee would establish. A sort of nest egg.

As part of this obligation to the student, there would be a lifelong commitment to provide medical care to any student sustaining long-term injuries within the program.

This would be a fair and humane approach to managing student-athletes. The program would be funded through money received from various media — or maybe a reduction in coaches’ salaries, for starters.

Patricia K. Sampson
Jensen Beach, Fla.

To the Editor:

Bomani Jones does not mention the quality education made available to athletes who may not have the opportunity for such an education but for their athletic skills.

The large majority of student-athletes, even in Division I sports, will never become professional athletes. On the other hand, these student athletes have access to an education and eventual job placement that may have never been possible otherwise. Many get athletic scholarships.

Let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture. The large majority of student-athletes have benefited from the N.C.A.A.’s making their education possible.

Bruce Fox
Randolph, N.J.

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