An Antidote to Smug Liberalism

Jack Hunter’s clever Oct. 10 column (“Nothing Conservative about Iraq”) maintains that being antiwar historically has been a Republican and conservative value. It brings to mind Bob Dole’s famous grumbling about the “Democrat wars” of the 20th century. Like Dole, Hunter points out that American involvement in World Wars I and II, Korea, and Vietnam came about under Democratic presidents — Wilson, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, Johnson. Hunter maintains that George W. Bush’s preemptive war against Iraq is inconsistent with traditional Republican and conservative values. There certainly is historical truth in all of that. (I suppose Hunter does not consider Republican conservative Reagan’s invasion of Grenada a “real” war.) Along those lines, he could also have mentioned that Republican candidate Eisenhower won the presidency by promising to end the Korean conflict.

In pursuing his point, Hunter omits mention that America’s left-of-center also has an honorable history of anti-war sentiment. Socialist Eugene Debs, frequent candidate for president, was jailed for his opposition to American involvement in World War I. Jeannette Rankin, progressive Republican feminist Congresswoman from Montana, had the distinction of voting against resolutions to involve the U.S. in both World Wars I and II; Rankin also was a leading opponent of the Vietnam War, along with Martin Luther King, Eugene McCarthy and other prominent liberals. Students for a Democratic Society and other “hippy” groups led protests against the war. Democratic politician John Kerry, after serving with distinction in Vietnam, joined the opposition. Democratic politico Bill Clinton was anti-war and evaded the draft, along with other liberals. (Republicans Dan Quayle, George W. Bush, and Dick Cheney also evaded Vietnam service, but not because of passivist ideals.)

Coming from a Southern family with a centuries-old tradition of patriotic service, I went without question to Vietnam. However, in retrospect I believe the Vietnam War was a huge mistake. Iraq, I am afraid, is our second Vietnam.

Robert P. Stockton


The Case for the World Court

Jack Hunter’s column this week states, “But if there is one dominant argument amongst those who do fear the loss of sovereignty, it is this: One day, foreign courts and institutions might have more authority over American citizens than the U.S. government or our state governments. With his position on the Medellin case, our president has proven them right” (“National Sovereignty and Our Nutjob President,” Oct. 24).

Oh, right. Somewhere along the way, I failed to note that Jose Medellin had become a U.S. citizen. What, he hasn’t? Then the last sentence is a non sequitur.

The United Nation’s International Court of Justice ruled he deserves a new trial. If Mr. Medellin was a U.S. citizen, we would rightly complain about loss of our sovereignty. But he isn’t. If we don’t follow the decisions of the World Court on any case which we disagree, then other countries will feel (rightly) that they don’t have to enforce the court’s decision on cases we favor. In other words, the World Court would cease to exist.

Irving S. Rosenfeld

James Island