Daily Hampshire Gazette - Established 1786
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Not all military ‘first strikes’ the same

To the editor:

A recent article in the New York Times by Prudence Bushnell, a former ambassador to Kenya, describes surviving an al-Qaida attack on her embassy in 1988. She states, “For two years before we were blown up in Nairobi, Kenya, my team and I fought (‘nagged’ was the word State Department colleagues used) to have security threats and vulnerabilities addressed ... Washington’s assessment was that things were O.K.”

In a recent letter to the Gazette, an Amherst resident opposes all first strikes, including, of course, one on Iran. But there are first strikes and first strikes. If the French and British had attacked the Germans in 1938, when they occupied the Rhineland and the Sudetenland, and in 1939 allowed them to dismember Czechoslovakia, it is likely that the German General Staff and Diplomatic Corps, looking for a chance to depose Hitler and the Nazi regime, would have done so, thus preventing WWII and the Holocaust.

Consider also that in the Six Days’ War, Egypt blockaded the Straits of Tiran, and the other Arab states under Nasser surrounded Israel, with the goal of driving the Jews into the sea. Before they could strike, they dithered and Israel struck first. Prior to the Yom Kippur War, the Arabs, always bent on destroying Israel, attacked while Israel, anxious about world opinion,dithered. The Arabs would have won had not been for a Rommel-like end run into Egypt by Ariel Sharon.

Now consider a nuclear first strike by Iran on Israel, Egypt, or the United Sates. And yet a headline in the Gazette the other day read, “Israel badgers US to draw line in sand over Iran.” Badgers? Nagged?

Newton Bowdan

South Hadley

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