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I read with interest the comparison written by my friend Larry Siskind of George W. Bush with FDR [" A New Deal for Republicans," March 26]. It’s an intriguing exercise, but it has the air of an analysis written, to use Larry’s term, “on the run.” Perhaps if the author had not been trying so hard to link a failing presidency to an heroic one, he would not have compared FDR’s service in the Department of the Navy, which he would have had to quit to fight in the Great War, to Bush joining the Air National Guard specifically to avoid the draft, and then not completing his service at all. But where the comparison really falls apart is when Mr. Siskind says Roosevelt’s response to Nazi Germany “echoes” Bush’s doctrine of pre-emption toward Iraq. It seems to me that FDR’s “pre-emptive” strikes on a regime that had attacked Czechoslovakia, Poland and France without provocation, which was engaged in a war of world domination against the allied nations, and which was actively exterminating Jews and other “undesirables” differs significantly from Dubya’s attack on Iraq, accomplished without the majority of our traditional allies, and in the absence of any threat to any of those allies, much less an actual attack on any other sovereign nation. It was admittedly much easier for FDR to locate Hitler’s weapons of mass destruction than it has been for Dubya to locate Hussein’s, since Hitler had conveniently been dropping them on London for so many years before our “pre-emptive” strike on Nazi Germany. Roosevelt did not have to start his own war in order to become a war leader. That seems like an important difference to me. Christopher Mead San Francisco

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