Letters to the Editor

Readers denounce proposal for total war in Iraq.

No cause, benefit, or target, for total war in Iraq

Regarding John Dillin's Opinion piece, "America, Iraq, and the question of total war," from April 12: What in the world does the author imagine the Iraqi people to have done that would justify leveling their cities and killing tens or hundreds of thousands of people in order to compel them to submit to US will? It cannot be the weapons of mass destruction that we now know Iraq's former government didn't have or the operational ties to Al Qaeda that did not exist.

The assertions that purportedly justified our invasion in the first place have been proven false. Iraq never posed any existential threat or even a significant strategic challenge to the United States. So comparisons to prior wars in which our nation was fighting for its life cannot salvage the author's thesis about the merciless course he advocates in Iraq.

Are we Americans not even to consider whether we have the right to kill and destroy a foreign people who never attacked us or even threatened to do so? What is it that we are trying to "win"?
M. David Levi
Fresno, Calif.

In response to John Dillin's April 12 Opinion piece suggesting total war in Iraq: Mr. Dillin's piece is a lot of nonsense. The United States won the military war. What we're losing is the peace. But as the British learned in the 1920s and '30s, people who consider another country to be an invader can be hard to govern.

All of these problems in Iraq were predicted by those who had even just a basic understanding of Iraqi society, which was created from the Ottoman Empire. The president and his advisers should not have shown so much hubris as to act as though the US could solve age-old religious, tribal, and resource rivalries.

Since the US isn't going to slaughter all Iraqis, start a draft to supply the Army with thousands more troops, or start requiring enough in taxes to finance the war, then the only course of action left is to admit our folly and bring the troops home. The only people who can solve the Iraqi problem are the Iraqis.

We are spending $9 billion a month to lose. We are wasting our nation's economic future on a futile effort. If we in the US spent $9 billion a month on energy independence, we would be far ahead of the game. We might even be able to pay down international debt.
Lyle Sykora
Lanark, Ill.

In response to John Dillin's Opinion piece advocating all-out war in Iraq: It seems to me that if we Americans are to do as Mr. Dillin says, then we must first identify whom we are fighting. In the Civil War and in World War II, we had enemies that were easily identifiable, but now in Iraq we do not always know whom we are fighting.

There are numerous ethnic and political groupings in Iraq, among them the Shiites, Sunnis, and Kurds. Then there is Al Qaeda. Among Shiites alone there are various elements that are killing one another, one of them being Moqtada al-Sadr, who controls an enormous and very mean militia. At the same time, Shiites are the major element in the Iraqi government.

Because there are many "enemy" forces, and there is no one enemy capital or stronghold, what are we to do? The enemies don't have insignia or uniforms. I challenge Dillin to specifically identify the enemy. I challenge him to offer actions we should take to win the Iraq war that are more specific than just his proposal to wage "total war." All he seems to have provided at this point is hot air and emotion; those are insufficient.
Ralph Ekwall
Omaha, Neb.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

Mail letters to 'Readers Write' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to (617) 450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com.

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