Columnist portrays the ignorance of pessimism

Stephen Ontko

Dear Editor,

Regarding Chris Kok’s apparent infallible military opinions in his Jan. 30 column “A failed change for a failed war,” readers are given a defeatist scenario based on inaccuracy and poor understanding of circumstances and policies regarding Iraq.

Assuming that an increased presence of U.S. troops will bring more violence to Baghdad, Mr. Kok fails to mention that the violence will be directed toward armed militiamen and terrorists who would, together, otherwise kill based on sectarianism and civil destruction.

Despite claims of impending doom, successful counter- insurgency operations have already been achieved, such as 2004’s Operation Phantom Fury in Fallujah. Most recently, fighting against the Shiite group Soldiers of Heaven, near Najaf, killed more than 250 extremists. BBC News reported American sources stating that more than a dozen high-level militiamen and 600 others in the Mahdi army have been detained as the Iraqi Parliament approves of the joint U.S.-Iraqi security initiative in Baghdad and Al-Anbar province.

The security plan implements additional U.S. troops into Al-Anbar province because this is a proper military measure.

Despite these positive developments against instability, many in Congress have already declared failure and desire a different approach (surrender), nonetheless, no constitutional provision exists for Congress to influence the president’s military decisions. Mr. Kok’s Iraqi civilian death figures are absurd and based on inaccurate surveying data. The Johns Hopkins figures used by Mr. Kok use too few cluster samples and subsequently interviewees, according to Steven Moore, who notes that the United Nations Development Program used 2,200 cluster samples and more than 21,000 interviewees for the 2004 UNDP’s Iraq survey. In addition to only using 47 cluster samples and just less than 1,900 interviewees for its 655,000 civilian deaths estimate since 2003 in Iraq, Mr. Moore cites that Johns Hopkins didn’t even use demographic information in its surveys, suggesting and an inability for anyone to neither confirm nor deny results based on 1997 Iraq census data.

While calling Americans to exercise their right to politically protest, it is disheartening that Chris Kok would deter a measure before all of its successes have come to fruition for democratic hope in Iraq.

Stephen Ontko

Sophomore pre-economics major