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Vietnam's legacy

Reader comment on item: Profs Who Hate America

Submitted by Dr. Arthur H. Pitz (Slovakia), Nov 13, 2002 at 03:00

The article correctly identifies a condition on many campuses. There is a factor that has helped breed this situation, however, that is not covered in the article, perhaps due to space constraints. The Vietnam War led to an extensive anti-war movement and that movement was fueled to a fair extent by the accurate realization that the Johnson and Nixon administrations had often not told the truth about American involvement in the war.

This situation led many to never again trust any American government. Surely, there had to always be 'hidden' motives behind what the U.S. government was doing. This attitude seems to lie behind much of the current attitudes towards the American government's desires to deal with the Iraqi government's evident interests in developing weapons of mass destruction. It must be, they think, that what the President and his advisers are saying covers up their real motives and their real actions.

The sad thing in the present case is that Saddam Hussein really is an evil leader and there can be no real doubt that if he had nukes in his hands he would at least threaten to use them. Israel was right in 1981 to take out Iraq's nuclear plant. One can only imagine what it would be like now if they hadn't. Even if President Bush and his advisers had 'secret' motives, one should ask--how could those motives be possibly worse than what Saddam has in mind? This scenario seems not to occur to many on the Left.

The article also points out correctly that not one of the professors cited has any particular expertise in the Middle East. So, I would hope that whoever reads their arguments would consider the source's lack of expertise. It seems to escape the attention of the professors mentioned in the article that not one significant Arab leader, not even Al Qaeda, chooses to defend Saddam Hussein.

I would like to add that not all of the old Left fall into this camp. I was active in the anti-war movement in the 1960's and do not share the views of those cited about the current situation. I should also note that my Ph.D. in History was focused on U.S. Foreign Policy and I have taught a course on the history of the modern middle east for a fair number of years.

It is true that there needs to be a balance of views in the Universities. Universities should be dedicated to a pursuit of the truth and should expose students to a wide diversity of interpretations, without attempting to constrain the views of those cited. We need not go back to the Sedition Act of WWI or anything like it, whether we be at war or not.

Sincerely yours,

Dr. Arthur H. Pitz, Visiting Fellow and Resource Person for the Civic Education Project at Matej Bel University in Banska Bystrica, Slovakia and Professor Emeritus from Black Hawk College in Moline, Illinois and a Fulbright Senior Specialist
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