Letters for Monday — January 16, 2006

• Stick with what you know

• Seeks Westin Kaua’i alumni

• Great concert, Kevin

Stick with what you know

Glenn Mickens has again weighed in (GI Letters, 12/22 and 1/1) with his comments on U.S. national security policy. Mr. Mickens’ frequent letters commenting on Kauai political issues have often contributed to a positive dialogue on matters of great interest to many of us. However, when he delves into the areas of foreign affairs and national security policy he is out of his element and his uninformed comments tarnish his overall credibility.

In his two cited letters he tees off on the Bush administration by stating that the Iraq War is an “unjust war” based on “lies” and was started in the quest for “oil and power”. He concludes that the United States is “in a lose-lose situation” and urges that we “get our brave men and women out of there”. In other words—cut and run. I don’t know why this former ball player and coach thinks he has the expertise to make such a sweeping inditement of a very complex national security issue. It is clear, however, that his statements are virtually a verbatim recitation of the “talking points” found on a number of left wing web sites.

Mr. Mickens’ statements, and similar ones by those who share his views, are a sad testament to an unfortunate truth—that there are many Americans who cannot, or will not, accept the fact that the U.S. is engaged in a World War and that Iraq is a battleground in that war. This war is one we did not seek. It was initiated by the leaders of a world wide web of decentralized Muslim extremist groups who seek the destruction of our institutions and the indiscriminate killing of our citizens. They are a brutal and bloodthirsty lot who will not be appeased and care little for the Western norms of international relations. The survival of our country, and the futures of our children and grandchildren, depend upon our winning this war.

The terrorists’ initial salvos go back well before Iraq. To name a few: Embassy personnel taken hostage in Iran (1979), Embassy in Lebanon attacked and Marine Barracks blown up (1983), NY World Trade Center bombed (1993), Khobar Towers bombing (1996), Embassy in Kenya bombed (1998), Embassy in Tanzania bombed (1998) and the USS Cole attacked (2000).These aggressions, perpetrated by our enemies, resulted in a large number of deaths and injuries. However, the U.S. government failed to provide an immediate and effective response and this further emboldened the terrorists. Bin Laden himself has stated that by cutting and running in Mogadiscio the U. S. revealed itself as a “paper tiger” and gave the terrorists further incentive to escalate their war. This led to the attacks on 9/11 which resulted in the deaths of thousands of innocent men, women and children.

So, the question arises—in the face of a massive attack within the borders of the United States, and the expectation that there would be more to come, what would Mr. Mickens and his friends have the President do? It would seem reasonable to focus on the kinds of attacks that the terrorists were most likely to be contemplating, and to devise measures to prevent them. Given the proliferation of nuclear materials it is possible that one day terrorists may have the capability to put a nuclear device in a cargo container, detonate it in Honolulu Harbor, and obliterate Oahu. However, this was far from the likely threat that faced U.S. policymakers post 9/11. A more urgent danger was the existence of, or the capability of quickly producing, chemical and biological agents. One of the “lies” that Mr. Mickens postulates was a basis for invading Iraq was that Iraq possessed WMDs (weapons of mass destruction). But where is the “lie”? Iraq had used chemical weapons to kill thousands of Kurds and Iranians and was known to be working on biological agents. Every major Western intelligence agency believed Iraq had WMDs. So did the UN which issued numerous resolutions demanding that Iraq give up those materials. The fact that no WMDs have yet been unearthed in Iraq is not dispositive proof that they did not exist prior to the U.S. invasion. Israeli intelligence to this day insists that in the months prior to the invasion, when Iraq was defying the UN, that the WMDs were moved to Syria (a bastion of terrorist support) from where they were either hidden or further dispersed.

Another “lie” alleged by Mr. Mickens is that there was an ” Al Qaida link to Saddam”. No one in the Bush administration has ever said that Saddam was involved in 9/11. However, many intelligence agencies have documented pre 9/11contacts between Iraqi officials and Bin Laden’s associates, and the fact that Iraq provided housing and medical care to terrorists. So, with the knowledge that the terrorists coveted chemical and biological agents, that Iraq had the apparent ability to provide these materials, that Iraqi officials had had contacts with terrorists and that another major attack was likely, what would Mr. Mickens have had the President do? While these decisions were difficult to make, to do nothing must not have seemed to be a credible option. Chemical and biological agents are easily transportable and are incredibly lethal. Small amounts introduced into the air or water systems of a major city could cause thousands of deaths and injuries—just the kind of horrific, indiscriminate attack our enemies desperately want to bring to our shores.

In retrospect, the argument on the part of the left that the invasion of Iraq was based on “lies” does not seem to hold water. Further, to accommodate the Mickens’ cry for the U.S. to cut and run would not make our nation safer. A caliphate would be established in Iraq, the Middle East would be destabilized and our sworn enemies would proceed with plans for many more “9/11s” within the United States.

Finally, Mr. Mickens would do us all a favor if he would stick to writing about local political issues, where he has some expertise, and stay away from national security issues, where he has none.

  • Myles Fladager

Seeks Westin Kaua’i alumni

A long time ago, I had the pleasure and distinction of helping to launch The Westin Kauai. I was among the first 200 hires while the property was still under construction by Hawaiian Dredging. First hired as materials coordinator for the engineering department, after several months I joined the union and took a job as Maintenance Mechanic where I performed a variety of useful functions (oh the stories!)

However, the Westin was managing a $2.5 million art collection, and had no original plan to maintain it. With regular calls from housekeeping or other staff, the Engineering Department soon had to deal with lots of damaged artwork.

Being the only person in engineering that had an art background, it soon became my full time job to catalog, prioritize, clean, repair and restore a collection of unique art objects from around the world. I had lots of help from museums and conservation labs from across America, but it was still quite a challenge.

During the same time, I became shop steward for the engineers, and was somehow elected as the first union chairman for Kauai Lagoons.

My son was born on Kaua’i, but fate rather than ‘Iniki brought my family back to the mainland for another career move. Now, 15 years later the island is calling me with a job offer on Kaua’i. Having dreamed many (many) times of coming back I am trying to make it work. My son is 16 and is a 6’4″ junior in high school and would sadly stay with his mom (we are divorced) rather than switch schools for his last year.

I thought this might be a good forum to say hello to any of the old Westin Kauai alumni, and invite anyone who remembers me to send me an e-mail in the next few weeks to christy@cruzio.com. Many names come to mind of the great people I worked with, and would like to reconnect with. If this is fit news to print in the letters section, I hope it gets passed around to Westin folks as well as other friends around the island. See you all soon, I hope.

  • David Christy
    Felton, Calif.

Great concert, Kevin

I was one of the people fortunate enough to be at the Keb’ Mo’ concert, recently put on by promoter Kevin Rogers.

I was proud that our island turned out to “support live music” as the promoter kept emphasizing. Other than some unwelcome chatter from the back, it was an evening well worth the price of admission.

The opening acts, young Trevor Hall, and Kaua’i’s own Ken Emerson, were excellent and of course Keb’ Mo’ was … Keb’ Mo’.

I for one would like to thank Kevin Rogers for taking a chance and bringing him to Kaua’i. I’m sure the promoter was surprised but pleased at the turnout.

Attending concerts such as these increases our chances of having more artists take a chance on our island. (Next two acts are John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers and Hot Tuna.)

Mahalo again, Kevin, and bring them on!

  • Landie Silva

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