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Before Mr. Lambro takes such a negative view on a proposal, it would behoove him to better study the proposal.

KENNETH P. CHRISTENSEN

Jacksonville, Fla.

Standing on humanity and principles

William Hawkins’ belief that our enemies are not our equals is lethally flawed (“Treating enemies as equals,” Commentary, yesterday).

First, waging war against terrorists ensures that many innocent people will be killed. Such collateral damage is accepted by Mr. Hawkins because he and others like him believe American lives are worth more than the lives of foreigners and that rights do not come with being human but instead derive from government generosity.

Perhaps Mr. Hawkins should review the premise of our nation’s founding document, the Declaration of Independence. Any rational reading will find that rights are not a blessing from government but are inalienable gifts of God (natural rights) that belong to all people regardless of race, religion, age, sexual orientation, nationality or political belief. The primary function of any legitimate government is to protect those rights with due process and not sacrifice the lives of those who may not be seen as worthy of such rights.

For Mr. Hawkins, it doesn’t seem to be a problem that somewhere between 60,000 and 600,000 innocent Iraqis have been killed as a direct result of the Bush administration’s decision to invade and occupy Iraq. Most Americans rightfully feel horrified by the loss of nearly 4,000 U.S. soldiers but demonstrate little compassion or concern for the dead Iraqis. I’m fairly certain that is not how the loved ones of the Iraqi dead, wounded or displaced feel. If they had seen early on that American soldiers were willing to die to protect innocent Iraqis instead of intimidating them with “shock and awe” warfare, we might have ended up with far more friends and far fewer enemies and U.S. casualties in the long run.

Only by demonstrating far greater concern for the well-being of those who may look like our enemies will we be able to mobilize the hearts and minds and the intelligence sources needed to defeat our true enemies those who show no regard for the loss of innocent lives.

Though techniques such as “waterboarding” provided intelligence that “probably saved lives,” there is little doubt in my mind that conducting and justifying such torture to protect American lives will only end up costing far more American lives on the battlefield and at home in the long run.

Either we stand for the basic principle that all people are created equal or we are only slightly better than the mass murderers against whom we wage war. Standing on such noble principles may cost some lives upfront, but such is the price of real freedom and remaining a truly great nation.

Any ideology that favors the survival of one people over another is not only un-American, unethical and un-Christian; it is the clearest prescription for our ultimate defeat.

CHUCK WOOLERY

Rockville