I want to compare and contrast two guest columns that ran in the San Antonio Express-News this past Sunday.
The first takes a critical look at the Bush administration's conduct of the war in Iraq and is written by Joseph Beck, a local high school student.
The second is defending the U.S. war on terrorism and is written by Mike Reeder, a former senior television producer for the Republican National Committee who now lives in Boerne.
Upon first seeing the columns my reaction was dismay. Once again the "So Called Liberal Media" was setting up an unfair fight with the "conservative" view point put forth by a professional pundit straight from the RNC, while the "liberal" perspective is left to the defense of some high school kid.
But after reading the articles, I have to admit that young Mr. Beck carried off his part rather well. His article is straightforward and coherent. He is tough on the administration without being rude or disrespectful. He seems to have all his facts straight and doesn't go off the deep end making any wild accusations.
Here is a sample of Beck's column:
"Of course, it is possible, and probably very likely, that the administration believed WMDs did exist at one time in Iraq. However, how could the administration, with power and responsibility of unparalleled proportions, have relied so exclusively on "information" that has so easily been discredited?"
Now compare this with the article by Mr. Reeder.
He starts off right away with name calling and insults. The "left" is "soft-headed" and their every utterance is "drivel", Reeder opines.
He then makes some rather disturbing statements regarding the war in Afghanistan that he also ties in with the war in Iraq.
"Not a single one of the trained terrorists killed in that conflict will ever board a plane with mayhem in mind or carry out the biological and chemical attacks they were trained to conduct. When one considers the destruction wrought by a handful of hijackers on Sept. 11, 2001, it is difficult to see how permanently eliminating thousands of would-be emulators has not enhanced our security."
First off, our reason for going into Afghanistan was to confront the Al Quaeda leadership that we had determined was holed up there. Ousting the reprehensible Taliban from power was a nice bonus that resulted from the conflict. But to assume that everyone of the thousands of Afghan men killed in the conflict were somehow complicit or guilty of the 9-11 attacks is very wrong. And to assume that their deaths will somehow make us safer, is just sickening.
We were right to go after Al Quaeda, but what Mr. Reeder seems to advocate is a type of lynch mob justice where just about any person of Middle Eastern descent can be labeled a terrorist and become a target. Such illogic is what led our nation into its current detour into the Iraqi quagmire.
Reading articles like the one by young Mr. Beck gives me some hope for our country that the shrill rantings of people like Mr. Reeder cannot undermine.