Volume 74, Number 19 | September 08 - 14 , 2004



Letters to the editor

How’s Koch doin’? Not too well

To The Editor:
Re “Koch: How’s Bush doin’? Great, and he’s got my vote” (talking point, by Ed Koch, Aug. 18):

“How’m I doin’?”

Not very well.

“What do you mean by that?”

Well, Ed, the sad truth is you’re doing rather poorly. You’ve lost your political compass, and your support for Bush is simply the latest example.

Ed Koch continues to repeat the myth that he is still a traditional Democrat, and a liberal one to boot.

Yes, he really has been backing “Democrats” of late, like D’Amato and Giuliani and Bloomberg and Pataki, now topped off by his endorsement of Bush.

As far as his claim to liberalism goes, he seems to think anyone to the left of Joe Lieberman is an “extreme leftist.”

And who are the people he now admires? Bushies, like Cheney, Ashcroft and Rumsfeld, and the neo-cons, led by Wolfowitz, Gingrich, Pearle and Kristol.

Koch says domestic issues don’t count in this election. So he ignores the fact that Bush is the worst environmental president in history; that more than 42 million Americans now have no health insurance; that more children are being left behind because Bush failed to fund his education program; that he is the first president since Hoover to actually lose jobs; that his only compassion has been for millionaires who got a tax break of almost 7 percent while the bottom fifth of the population got 1.5 percent; that on the so-called “family values” front he pandered to the Falwells and Robertsons on homosexuality, abortion and now stem cell research; and on civil liberties, he permits Ashcroft to check on individual reading habits, and to hold “material witnesses” in custody for months, even years, without due process.

But Koch says only foreign policy deserves center stage.

So while the 9/11 terrorists who killed 3,000 innocents were part of Al Qaeda, anchored in Afghanistan, where their leader, bin Laden, was holed up, Bush misled the nation into attacking Iraq with an American army seven times the size that went after Al Qaeda.

He took us into Iraq under the false premises that we would find weapons of mass destruction, ready to be launched and threatening our national security, and that Iraq had been a collaborator with Al Qaeda in the 9/11 slaughter.

Furthmore, the war in Iraq has been a study in incompetence.The Bush team promised we would be treated as liberators and showered with flowers; instead our soldiers were treated as occupiers and invaders and have had to dodge mortars.

The neo-cons said we were bringing our style of democracy to Iraq, but so far Jefferson and Madison do not seem to have caught on there.

The war, we were told, would be paid for by Iraqi oil; so far it has cost us $200 billion with no end in sight.

A year ago, we were told, “Mission Accomplished,” and Bush challenged the insurgency to “bring it on;” they brought it on, costing us so far almost 1,000 lives and 5,000 wounded, not to mention the deaths of tens of thousands of innocent Iraqis — most since the mission was supposed to have been accomplished.

Then there are the Abu Ghraib atrocities with recent investigations showing that culpability went right up the U.S. chain of command.

Even in Britain, our only significant ally, 75 percent of the people see America as the bully of the world, not its inspiration, and they see Bush as the leading bully.

It is sad that Ed Koch, who marched with King and against the Vietnam War, should cap a notable career by snuggling up to this ugly band who revel in preemptive strikes, and who, on the domestic front, have made the gap between rich and poor the largest in living memory.

Ed Gold


Bush’s inept war on terror

To The Editor:
Ed Koch argues that we should vote for Bush in November because of the Bush doctrine (‘Koch: How’s Bush doin’? Great, and he’s got my vote,” talking point, Aug. 25”). I believe that the root of terror is the lack of opportunity for disaffected Arabs to express themselves other than through Islamic ultra-piety and anti-Western diatribes and that the solution is to introduce pluralistic democracy. At times, it requires joining the dissidents militarily to change their regime.

I wholeheartedly agree that Afghanistan and Iraq are both instances where this is appropriate. I further agree with Bush’s call to desist from our prior policy of supporting friendly repressive regimes at the expense of supporting democracy. However, I have to disagree with the notion that the president is a steadfast and decisive promoter of liberty. In Afghanistan, instead of sending our finest forces into Tora Bora, he sent the notoriously corrupt Northern Alliance with the result that Osama, Mullah Omar and their followers got away. This is not a result, as some on the left will say, of diverting attention to Iraq, since troop mobilization for Iraq had not begun by then. It is a problem of leadership. In Iraq, he left Muqtada al-Sadr alone when he began showing that he would become dangerous but was still weak enough to be dealt with. Now he is virtually in charge of Sadr City, a neighborhood of 3 million people, mostly devoted to him and willing to take up arms on his behalf. In Fallujah, Bush promised to exact vengeance on the terrorists there, only to call it off just as our troops were ready to move in, opting instead for ill-equipped and ill-trained Iraqi forces who let the militants operate as they please.

The Bush record on promoting democracy elsewhere in the Arab-Muslim world looks more like the policy he decried last year of supporting friendly autocrats than supporting democracy. Whether in Pakistan, Morocco, Algeria or Egypt, the message has been cooperation in the war on terror trumps all; arrest a few terrorists and you can stifle dissent as you please, at least, if no American citizen is involved. Furthermore, Libya’s Khadafi has also gained significantly improved treatment without any liberalization simply by renouncing his weapons of mass destruction. In the meantime, the populations of these countries turn to the only safe forms of dissent, Islamism and anti-Westernism, thus breeding the next generation of terrorists and cynicism about America’s commitment to spread democracy.

Finally, while it is necessary to pursue the terrorists abroad, it will be a long time until they can be defeated. Until then, it will be necessary to defend the homeland. On this front, Bush has shown disinterest, whether securing nuclear material from the former Soviet Union or protecting chemical plants or port facilities at home.

My one concession is that Kerry has given problematic, albeit not completely clear, signs as to not recognizing when threats abroad need to be confronted. However, as University of Chicago political scientist Daniel Drezner asked, is it better to have a well-formed policy with a fouled-up policy process or a half-baked policy with a decent policy process? Drezner concluded that with a good policy process there is a chance for a good policy to emerge, while a poor policy process, even with a decent initial policy, would not permit corrections as necessary. That is why Kerry, despite being less than ideal, would be better for the war on terror.

Scott Smith


Koch sees the big picture

To The Editor:
Re “Koch: How’s Bush doin’? Great, and he’s got my vote” (talking point, by Ed Koch, Aug. 18):

We’re very happy to hear this — that some of us, like Mayor Koch, don’t wait until it’s too late to smarten up.

Good for you, Ed!!

Clyde and Jan Zunker


Gas masks in the park?

To The Editor:
I was truly horrified to read in The Villager that the Hudson River Park Trust is having its employees spray the park with a toxic weed killer known as Roundup (“Dog walkers object to pesticide use in Hudson Park,” news article, Aug. 25; and “Not waiting for the last Roundup,” letter, by Lynn Pacifico, Aug. 25):

Since Roundup has been banned in various jurisdictions as being demonstrably unsafe to humans, it’s incredible that the Trust would use a product that jeopardizes the health and welfare of park users, especially the many children that play in the park.

If the Trust continues to spray with Roundup, then park users, and I’m one of them, need to insist that the Trust provide us with gas masks as a survival tool. Thank you, Villager and Lynn Pacifico for alerting us to this dangerous, life-threatening situation.

Aubrey Lees

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