I’m writing to refute some points made in Drew Atkins’ column (Daily Nexus, “Do it for Dr. King,” Jan. 17). While the letter made some good points and I am certainly no fan of an unsubstantiated war on Iraq, there are certain issues that I feel should be given additional thought.

Primarily, the letter cites a report from Hans Blix, the chief U.N. weapons inspector, stating that the inspectors had yet to find any evidence of illegal weapons. However, it is also important to keep in mind that Blix has also stated that he is very unsatisfied with the weapons report that Iraq filed with the U.N. The United States has asserted that it knows for certain that Iraq possesses illegal weapons, and yet the general consensus among UCSB students seems to be to dismiss that statement as warmongering by the government. Are we really so ready to believe the word of Saddam Hussein, with his track record of lies and deceit, over that of our own government? I’m not saying that I definitely believe Iraq possesses illegal weapons, but I think that both sides of the story deserve strong consideration.

There also seems to be a common anti-Bush viewpoint held throughout campus. I do not agree with many of the policies the government has enacted since his election, but I think it is unfortunate that it appears students’ disapproval of Bush in general leads them to automatically disapprove of any given policy without really thinking about it. In logic, this is known as an ad hominem, a logical fallacy arising when people dismiss an argument based on their perceptions of the person presenting the argument instead of making a decision based on the merits of the argument. Mr. Atkins also does this when he states “people like Bush once branded King a threat.” Making an analogy between President Bush and people who hated Dr. King is unsubstantiated and ridiculous. It serves no purpose other than to degrade President Bush for no reason, and statements like this have no place in intelligent political discussion.

When we examine a complex international situation like the current one, we need to remember that the real world exists in many shades of gray. Students like us have a tendency to try and simplify matters to black and white, which is all too easy in the ivory tower academic setting we currently live in. The real world, especially international relations, is far more complicated.

Do I favor war with Iraq? No, I do not, especially one launched without substantial reason. Should we go to war with Iraq without finding any evidence of a material breach of their contract, I will be out with the peace protesters. I can, however, understand the possible need for such a war if the proper reasons are in place.

Matt McComb is a junior philosophy major.