Sunday, March 20, 2005

NYT Book Section: "To the Editor:
The callous logic of establishment pundits can be quite amazing to read. In his review of David Harris's book ''The Crisis: The President, the Prophet, and the Shah — 1979 and the Coming of Militant Islam'' (Feb. 27), Kenneth M. Pollack asserts, ''In truth, in Iran as elsewhere in the Middle East today, America's sins were principally those of omission, not commission.'' In the very next sentence, Pollack notes, almost as an aside, ''Of course, the Eisenhower administration had toppled the popular government of Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 — an event that has reached mythic proportions in Iranian minds.'' Pollack writes dismissively, as if Iranians should have quickly forgotten and forgiven this American-assisted coup that installed the brutal quarter-century dictatorship of the shah. If an outside country helped overthrow a popular American president and helped set up an authoritarian regime in his place, is there any doubt this would be considered by most Americans, for at least a few generations, an unforgettable and particularly atrocious moment in our history? With such rationalized callousness about ''sins of commission,'' I guess it should not be too surprising that Pollack was such a strong supporter of going to war in Iraq — a war in which the civilian death toll and the devastating effects of America's use of depleted-uranium weapons still remain largely unreported or trivialized by our mainstream commentators.
ELIOT KATZ Astoria, Queens"