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Letter: History shows some wars can be avoided

Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers keep guard near the front

Kurdish Peshmerga soldiers keep guard near the front line with Sunni militants on the outskirts of Kirkuk, Iraq, on June 25, 2014. Credit: Getty Images / Spencer Platt

Columnist Anne Michaud's interesting query regarding the inclinations of male and female leaders to fight wars ["Don't stereotype women leaders," Opinion, Sept. 25] raises the more pertinent question: When are wars, in general, justified? The only answer: If we genuinely regard life as precious, war is justified only as a last resort for defense, when threats are unquestionably imminent.

Aside from World Wars I and II, this clearly has not been the case in virtually all of our wars; they've been wars of choice. The invasion of Iraq was based on faulty intelligence about weapons of mass destruction. The Vietnam War also was based on faulty evidence of two North Vietnamese torpedo attacks on our ships in the Gulf of Tonkin. History has confirmed that the 1846 Mexican War was provoked by President James K. Polk, who wanted to acquire what's now California and New Mexico.

Similarly, the 1898 Spanish-American War was accelerated by an erroneous belief that the sinking of the battleship USS Maine in Havana Harbor was deliberately caused by explosives planted by the Spanish. Recent research has called that into question.

A thorough investigation into preventable wars would, no doubt, yield more examples. Aside from supporting sanctioned UN actions, hopefully we can learn from history, regardless of which gender is at the helm.

Fred Barnett, Lake Grove