This article was last modified on July 30, 2006.

Letter to Dr. Kagen on Foreign Policy

July 30, 2006

Dr. Steven Kagen
c/o Kagen 4 Congress
100 West College Avenue, Suite 50D
Appleton, WI 54911

Dr. Kagen,

I heard you speak on Wisconsin Public Radio today. I had already decided to vote for you prior to this broadcast, but your speech this evening was impressive. I really appreciate your stance on health care and especially on publicly financing elections. You really drove home the meme of being unable to be bought, which I hope is a promise you are capable of keeping.

My area of interest is primarily foreign policy. I support your positions on this in general, although I think you might be misguided or misinformed on a few things. Or perhaps I am misinformed or misguided. But either way I was hoping to open up two points for discussion since you’ve raised them on the radio today.

First, you stated strongly that we should never have entered Iraq and it was important to redeploy. I agree with this wholeheartedly and think Senator Feingold’s original target of December 31, 2006 is both reasonable and pragmatic. However, you further said that we need to get the Sunni and Shiite leaders to talk and help stop the civil war (a civil war, incidentally, the Administration continues to deny). While I agree with this approach in theory (diplomacy trumps military intervention every time), I think the reality is far more problematic than what your dismissive comments suggested. Getting two opposing forces to reconcile is hard enough, but having an outside force do it is even more difficult, I think. (Certainly you don’t think Condoleeza Rice can get people to do what al-Sistani has been unable to do?) And while we ought to fix what we broke (Iraq), isn’t the key simply to stop interfering in others’ business? I guess I’m saying that I have my doubts that anything we (the American government) say will speed up any peace process. The failed talks at Camp David between the Israelis and Palestinians made this clear.

That paragraph went on considerably longer than I had intended.

Of more concern to me right now was a comment you made regarding Iran and their nuclear situation. To paraphrase your statement, you said one of Bush’s biggest failures was being unable to stop Iran from pursuing nuclear warheads. I think this is fundamentally wrong: his problem with Iran, which you share, is the problem of propaganda. After studying Iran’s words (from both the political and religious communities) and their actions, I have no reason to believe they have an interest in nuclear weaponry or would even be capable of manufacturing such devices in the next decade. The President of Iran wrote a lengthy letter to President Bush earlier this year, and I think the letter was entirely correct with regards to Bush’s actions towards Iran and the Middle East in general. You would be wise to read or re-read this letter. I have no formal training with regards to Iran (my degree is in philosophy), but when the claim is “we don’t want nuclear weapons” and the actions seem to indicate no pursuit of such weapons, my common sense tells me accusing them of wanting to acquire such weapons is rash.

I have written a short essay, “In Defense of Iran”, available at if you would be interested in reading my thoughts on this and on other Iranian issues (Israel, Hezbollah, women’s rights, etc.). Obviously I don’t expect you to really read it, but you might be surprised what you find.

Anyway, as I said, I’m voting for you in the primary and general elections regardless of our minor disagreements. So you don’t need to really waste too mcuh time on me. Thank you for having the courage and leadership to be the voice of the 8th District, and more so thank you for not being a complete jerk like Mark Green, a man who has always put his personal ambitions before the good of the people and will continue to do so if he is not stopped.


Gavin C. Schmitt
217 W. 6th St.
Kaukauna, WI 54130

P.S. The message about “buy things if you can afford them, don’t if you can’t” was a good analogy for the American budget. Perhaps it was too simplistic for personal finance, though? One must never underestimate the importance of savings or investments.

Also try another article under Letters to ...
or another one of the writings of Gavin.

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