Dear Editor:

Every week I read the Boise City News to keep up on local news and comments. I also read the weekly editorials. This week I read “Collins' Comments” several times over and to be honest, I had a difficult time understanding what the article was trying to convey to the reader. One clear message came though: Kelly's opinion that President George W. Bush somehow misled us concerning Iraq. I have some thoughts of my own concerning Iraq, and felt compelled to share them with you, as a form of rebuttal of Kelly's column.

Christians and Muslims have battled for centuries, and did not begin with the election of George W. Bush, or the World Trade Center attack on 9/11, nor will it end when we leave Iraq and Afghanistan. A minority of extremists want a jihad (holy war) with America and so, after repeated provocative attacks against us overseas (our foreign embassies, Kobe Towers, and the USS Cole) on 9/11 The World Trade Center was attacked and terrorism was brought to American soil. We immediately attacked the Taliban in Afghanistan and wrecked their organization in that country. Like rats, they filtered away to other Muslim countries ahead of our armies. Next, we turned toward Saddam Hussein and the Al Qaeda in Iraq. Kelly, your simplified view is that weapons of mass destruction were the only reason we went to Iraq. In truth, George W. Bush consistently and repeatedly justified our presence there with at least 5 separate reasons: (1) Weapons of mass destruction (2) United Nations resolutions demanding Saddam Hussein allow inspections (3) Saddam Hussein's ties to terror groups (4) Humanitarian mission for oppressed Iraqis (5) to introduce democracy to the middle east.

George Bush has never wavered in his reasoning for war and has consistently explained to the American people why it is so very important that we face Jihadist terrorism head on with no wavering of conviction or resolve. I recall watching on live television as The House, The Senate, and The Administration made a unanimous resolution to begin this war ( with the support of 82% of Americans ). So, if many citizens have since lost their stomach for war, it is neither fair nor honest to pretend that this war is George Bush's private crusade. Ironically, at times it seems as if President Bush is the only person who continues to understand the extreme threat to our nation which remains. If you as an individual choose to minimize or ignore his message, so be it, but the threat exists and is very real and the passage of time has not reduced the hatred by our enemies nor their resolve toward destroying America. When faced with threat, some people flee and some people fight. I cannot teach you to have absolute resolve when faced with imminent danger, since that is a personal choice. I can, however, make every effort to remind you to realize that our best weapon against the new threat of terrorism is to recognize it and deal with it.

Be assured that at this very moment there are large groups of terrorists who are still plotting ways to deliver death on our soil to millions of American citizens. The passage of time has changed nothing with these people, and a false sense of security is the worst mistake we can make. Taking an apologetic stance and assuming that America must be guilty of something to have brought such hatred upon us is a terrific mistake. This war seems uncomfortable to us because we are accustomed to fighting our battles politically in the world arena with politicians, money, and words. However, this war cannot be won with words, but is a war of resolve and conviction which unfortunately involves soldiers and death and violence. We must draw a line in the sand and face them or we invite eternal terror upon ourselves.

In closing your column you asked “What benefits have we gained for our payment in American lives and money? “ And “ What benefits have the Iraqi people gained ?“

The answers lie in how we each interpret our progress in Iraq. We are all horrified at the loss of life in war, and will not presume to know the sense of loss of anyone who has lost someone in this conflict. However, terrorism must be stopped and only history will judge whether the end justifies the means. By putting emotion aside and thinking rationally, it is obvious that this war is being fought very efficiently with a small loss of life. In Vietnam we lost 58,000 soldiers. In World War 2 we lost hundreds of thousands. In the American Civil War, several individual battles cost in excess of 10,000 lives in one day . It is frustrating when people attempt emotional blackmail by comparing this war with Vietnam. We have lost 700 soldiers in the last year in Iraq, and at present rates it will take 82 years for this war to equal Vietnam losses. They do not equate.

I consider it very wise and prudent to take the war to the terrorists by forcing them to fight our trained standing armies in a place of our choosing, by our rules, on a battlefield far from our cities and streets; rather than doing nothing which allows them the opportunity to attack us on their terms on our soil. If we do not wage war against them and occupy their attention, they will bring that war here. A series of horrific terror attacks on American soil would destroy the American economy, and as a result, the economy of the entire world. By waging war in the Middle East, we create an opportunity for terrorists to fight our well equipped and trained military rather than to attack our innocent citizens. We have gained the security of fighting terror on our own terms and being the hunter and not the prey.

As for your question of whether the Iraqi people have gained, many have suffered, but they are also seeing the promise of opportunity. The gross daily product of all Arab countries combined is less than the GDP of Spain alone. Iraqis are industrious and energetic, but have been starved for opportunity under the dictatorship of Saddam Hussein. It is no surprise that they embrace Bin Laden-ism or Hussein. With few opportunities and a life without hope, terror as an occupation seems inviting to the young men of those countries. Our presence in Iraq brings hope of democracy and opportunity to the Iraqi people. Law and order is better; archaeological sites are being preserved; factories are operating, stores are opening, bank accounts are created, schools are being built, oil is flowing, public services are being created where none existed before, and finally, hope exists in them for their future.

We have ransacked the terror organizations in Afghanistan and Iraq, and have more work to do. Some in Iraq suffer, without a doubt, but most Iraqis see this as a unique chance for freedom and want their opportunity as a free country. Our presence in Iraq is traditional; since our consistent message to the world is that we always defend those who cannot defend themselves.

Each person has the choice of how they view this war in Iraq. We owe it to our soldiers and our government officials to use our best thinking when we each choose our individual stance on our presence in Iraq. I only ask that you make your decisions based on facts and logic and do not allow your resolve to be weakened easily.

Tom Thrall

Route 1 Box 94

Richfield, Kansas 67953