Newt Gingrich's paean to Donald Rumsfeld's brilliance in his Dec. 28 Opinion piece, "Rumsfeld critics are off the mark," willfully ignores the real issue: He praises how well the Army fought in Iraq but avoids any discussion of Rumsfeld's abysmal failure to plan for the occupation, even though that's the reason he's under such criticism.
If this had been a Pearl Harbor or an unexpected development in the middle of an ongoing war, that would have been understandable, but this war took place at the time and place the Bush administration chose. There was no reason not to have the occupation planned out beforehand.
Rumsfeld has accomplished much, but the ultimate test for military leadership is what happens in the field. By that standard, he's failed.
Fort Walton Beach, Fla.
Rumsfeld was an early, forceful advocate for attacking Iraq. Military operations have defeated Saddam Hussein's army, but have done little, if anything, to defeat terrorism. They have fueled it.
We won't make real progress in the war on terrorism until we alter the conditions which cause it to begin with: pervasive unemployment among the young, education dominated by extreme madrassahs, and our own failure to deal with the Palestinian problem. Our nation is woefully ill-prepared to address the religious and cultural issues that underlie this dynamic.
Rumsfeld has "won" the Beltway war for policy dominance over the CIA and State Department. Unless we view the war from more points than his desk at the Pentagon, his win will have been a Pyrrhic victory.
Lt. Col. Jim Anderson (USA, Ret.)
University Place, Wash.
Regarding L. Ronald Scheman's Dec. 29 Opinion piece, "Reform US neighborhood bully image": Argentines were fully aware of how their nation arrived at such a state of financial affairs. Granting Argentina even more money would have been a temporary solution at best that would have led to even higher foreign-debt ratios.
Corruption and cronyism are major factors behind Argentina's problems. An unreformed political system that gives too much spending authority to the provinces was behind the excessive deficits that led to the crisis. Unreformed labor markets added to Argentina's woes.
It would be highly refreshing if authors covering "anti-Americanism" in Latin America would try to understand that most of the problems these nations face are homegrown and not the result of American policies or lack thereof.
To suggest otherwise implies that Latin Americans are passive actors who somehow are controlled in Washington. It also encourages citizens in Latin American countries and elsewhere to see the problems in the region as due primarily to external influences. This will not help the cause of reform.
Regarding your Dec. 29 editorial, "The Other Middle East Frontline": I applaud your statement: "A government that rules its people with arbitrary interpretations of law and restricts civic freedoms when they interfere with its agenda is unlikely to make a reliable diplomatic partner."
I dare to declare that if this simple but profound statement were to be elevated to a formal policy by the G-8 nations, many problems of that region of the world would be resolved without resorting to extreme solutions such as military intervention.
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