Dear Abby,

I am 42 years old and have been a liberal all my life. I've always followed politics. Some of my earliest clear memories are of John F. Kennedy's funeral - I was 4 years old at the time. I am of Irish descent and raised a Roman Catholic, so his death was a real blow. Some people don't remember that we were almost as low in the pecking order as blacks.

We were poor, my father often laid-off or on strike. Republicans became the enemy. I knew firsthand that poor people, minorities, were second-class citizens.

Abby, RFK's assassination caused me to ride my bike around the neighborhood crying at 5 in the morning. I hadn't quite turned 9. I was against the Vietnam War. I hated Nixon. Even today I feel a twinge inside when I see an American MIA button. The Vietnamese have hundreds of thousands of MIA's. And thousands were injured or killed even years after we left because we wouldn't tell them where we'd planted landmines. Americans don't like to talk about that.

I was in the army when Ronald Reagan invaded Grenada. What a joke. More people received medals than actually set foot on the island. I knew that civilians had been assassinated by scared US troops. Disobeying orders from a superior officer, one soldier refused to shoot at two people in the distance, walking down a road. He was court-martialed. Others in his unit didn't refuse to shoot -- the two people turned out to be a 70 year old man and his young granddaughter. I got out of the army quickly.

Abby, our support for the Contras embarassed me as an American. The invasion of Panama -- to remove our recalcitrant puppet Noriega -- led to thousands of civilian deaths, but was almost a non-event on American news programs. This was all just a precursor to the Gulf War. Hundreds of thousands of Iraqis died -- mostly civilians or conscripts -- the dead bulldozed into mass graves in the desert.

The legacy of England's colonial empire was unrest and bloodshed. And what was the United Nations thinking when they created Israel out of whole cloth? Nobody remembers that England used chemical weapons on the Kurds long before the United States created and supplied Saddam Hussein. Few know that Norman Schwarzkopf was the CIA's man in Tehran when we overthrew the government of Iran, they only know his son from Desert Storm.

Abby, it looks like we're going to be fighting in the middle east again. The thousands dead in New York stand as a stark reminder that a space-based defense shield is only an expensive mirage of safety.

And Abby, I think Osama bin Laden, partially created by our own CIA, is an instrument of evil - like most religious fanatics are. And the Taliban government of Afghanistan is despicable. Their destruction of the standing Buddhas of Bamiyan shows their senseless intolerance.

Abby, I know the the world needs to be safe from the likes of Osama bin Laden, but will a US led attack on Afghanistan accomplish anything or will it be just another chapter in the west's inexplicable foreign policy misadventures in the middle east?


Confused in Wisconsin

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