Letters to the Editor
Readers write about Americans' role in US policy, how to measure failure in Iraq, shielding children from TV violence, and the UN's role in solving conflict.
American people must share responsibility for US policySkip to next paragraph
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In response to the May 9 article, "Young Americans and Egyptians talk, but don't see eye to eye": Thank you for this unusual window into the complexities of cross-cultural discussions. I was struck by the author's comment that "many of the Americans felt ganged up on over US policies that they're not responsible for." This distinction – the idea that citizens of a country are not responsible for their government's policies – is relatively common, but it is still peculiar.
We Americans are part of a democratic republic. Certainly we may disagree or even loathe some of our government's policies, but to claim that we are not responsible for them is disingenuous. Even though we don't personally write the legislation or decide on a course of action, we vote for the lawmakers who do.
Pretending that we should be immune from criticism because we're somehow "not responsible" for American policies is not just wrong, but ignorant of the very ideals on which the US was founded.
Fort Washington, Pa.
Are yardsticks for failure appropriate in Iraq war?
In response to David Peck's May 11 Opinion piece, "Why President Bush needs a yardstick for failure in Iraq": I have a couple questions for Mr. Peck. First, what would he have considered yardsticks for failure in World War II? Losing 19,000 men in the Battle of the Bulge? Losing 7,000 men on Iwo Jima? Losing nearly 5,000 American, British, Canadian, and French troops on the beaches of Normandy in one day?
What would he have considered yardsticks for failure in that war that would have required us to capitulate to Adolf Hitler or Hirohito?
Perhaps the more relevant questions today are: What are his yardsticks for failure in the war against Al Qaeda, whose main battlefield is Iraq? At what point do we tell Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahiri that we give up and that they can have Iraq? And at what point do we declare our campaign in Afghanistan a failure and simply tell the Taliban and Al Qaeda they can have it back, because we don't need the headache?
Regarding David Peck's May 11 Opinion piece on setting standards for failure in Iraq: From a purely business standpoint, no manager can live without timelines and measurements.
Business projects have timelines and milestone charts and are tracked regularly. When a project is a failure, it is usually canceled; those responsible for the failure are usually fired.
So why is there resistance to these proven methods when it comes to the war in Iraq? Generals are managers, and they should be expected to forecast operations requirements and come up with a timeline for success. A war is a project, and we need the same planning and management discipline as with any project.
After four years, we have spent hundreds of billion in taxpayer money and lost thousands of lives, and we don't know if we are winning or losing. In the business world, everyone involved in this project would have been looking for a job a long time ago.
There is an old saying that "failure to plan is planning to fail." That is exactly what we have now.