The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 44.0°F | Mostly Cloudy

Threat of Persion Gulf war sparks student debate (1)

I stare with incredulity at Peter H. Mott G's letter ["Gulf war needlessly risks massive death and injury," Jan. 9]. The lack of comprehension of the nature of the gulf conflict just boggles my mind. If anyone is "taking a callous attitude over what is about to happen," Mott is.

His concept of the impending gulf conflict as a "war for oil" is remarkably superficial and totally ignorant of the real issues that Iraq's invasion of Kuwait actually addresses.

Has Mott considered the consequences of not stopping this Iraqi aggression? Perhaps the lives of Kuwaitis and other Third World inhabitants are not "sufficient" for him (do I detect racist overtones here?), but the effect American and international neglect of the Iraq-Kuwait situation would be far-reaching and far more lethally dangerous than the loss of lives in an American-led gulf war.

If Iraq is able to gain from its aggression without any form of hard retribution, license would be issued to every Third World power for aggression and domination of its less-powerful neighbors. While Mott is content letting sanctions work, Kuwait ceases to be a country as the people starve and die in Saddam Hussein's suppressive grip and the country itself is slowly dismantled.

The oil-consuming countries have much more to lose from foreign aggression than they do over the price of oil. And for your information, Mott, India has much more to gain from Iraq's takeover as it stands than they do from lower oil prices.

India's conventional forces, according to most analysts in the region, are more powerful than China's and could defeat even the mighty Chinese in a conventional war. To boot, they have nuclear weapons with medium-range delivery capacity.

India has already used its military might to control unrest in Sri Lanka. South Asia's regional superpower would feel free to dominate its neighbors at will if, in this precedent-setting incident, Iraq's aggression is left unchecked.

It "strikes you as Orwellian" that our forces are in the gulf, "because . . . the best way to not get into a war is not to send in the army in the first place?"

Mott, where have you been for the last 10 years? The massive US military buildup under former President Ronald Reagan was the foremost reason for the end of the Cold War. Your naivete amazes me. If the multinational force was not defending Saudi Arabia, what would prevent Iraq from taking over the entire Arab world?

I am, like your brother, of draft age. And I too want to live to be an old man. But I am willing to put my life on the line to defend values which it seems you, in your cozy home with plenty to eat and privacy and basic human rights, take for granted.

"The process of mass murder," as you call it, will not occur during the gulf war, if one compares the potential casualties of such a conflict to those in which Iraq and other Third World powers are allowed to destroy neighboring countries at will. Have you forgotten that Iraq would have developed nuclear weapons by now had it not been for Israel?

Have you forgotten Iraq's attempt to build a giant rail gun which would rain nuclear warheads across the Middle East? Or have you been living in a casket your entire life?

Western military analysts expect Iraq, if its military machine remains untouched, to regain nuclear capacity in five years. And thanks to unscrupulous people in Europe, intercontinental missile technology is not far behind. What kind of "mass murder" will you have then, Mott?

While you're perfectly happy with your expensive gas prices, Saddam takes over Saudi Arabia and then tells the United States, "fine, you try to attack me, and I'll take out New York." How does 20-million deaths sound to you, Mott?

You ridicule Timothy M. Townsend '91's assertion that "there will be no shortage of hard military targets for our airpower and advanced weapons." But it is this technological advantage which will reduce those casualties, for which you and I are both concerned, in the ground war.

Mott, you explicitly state that you want the world to repeat the mistakes of World War II and let Saddam "turn into Hitler!" How many precious lives will be lost by then in his oppression? How many more lives would be lost in the resultant long, drawn-out conflict?

You are right. The war probably won't have much day-to-day effect on your life, and you won't be at risk. But it is you who is out of touch. Your letter reflects no concern for the millions that stand to die in the Middle East and in other parts of the world. If you were president of the United States today, it would be you whom I would accuse of "bloody murder."

It is true that extremely short-sighted American foreign policy is a reason for this whole conflict in the beginning. But this is no time to continue that trend.

When this issue has been settled and Iraq has been defeated, the divisive issues between the oil-rich emirs and the poverty-stricken masses must be addressed to prevent someone like Saddam from ever gaining credibility again. Only then will massive casualties be avoided. Your "callous" tunnel vision, Mott, is far more destructive than any potential US-led gulf conflict.

Avik S. Roy '94->