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Letters to the Editor

Readers write about religious leadership in Iraq, illegal immigration, an impending crisis in Sudan, and culture references across the generations.

May 29, 2009

Ball in Iraq hasn't been dropped

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Regarding the May 13 editorial, "US drops a ball in Iraq": This editorial was lacking an important perspective: that of the Multi-National Force Iraq (MNF-I).

Since 2006, the MNF-I commander has developed a religious engagement cell that meets with senior Iraqi religious leaders weekly. Sunni and Shiite endowments work closely with the government of Iraq and MNF-I leadership to sponsor reconciliation conferences throughout Iraq. In the past year, Iraqi nationals, nongovernment officials, and other organizations conducted more than 15 conferences that included senior Sunni, Shiite, Christian, Mandaean, and Yazidi religious leaders. Every week, the MNF-I commander is briefed on the concerns of the religious leaders. This input is coordinated with that of the US State Department and the government of Iraq, to determine how and where to provide support.

The MNF-I commander sponsored three reconciliation workshops attended by more than 20 top religious leaders. Also, the religious engagement cell expanded its outreach and works with 90 religious leaders. According to the top Shiite and Sunni religious leaders, success for reconciliation in Iraq is accomplished when it is initiated by Iraqis, implemented by Iraqis, occurs within Iraq, and is supported by the coalition.

I submit to you that the ball has actually been jointly passed, to facilitate Iraqis helping Iraqis.

Richard B. Garrison


MNF-I Command Chaplain

Immigrants to America assimilate

Regarding the May 28 Opinion piece, "What will America stand for in 2050?": I strongly disagree with writer Lawrence Harrison's opinion regarding the way the US will look in 2050.

When it comes to the entire immigration discussion, I am tired of the defeatist attitude that is so common in older generations in this country. Past waves of immigrants have always assimilated after a generation or two, and there is nothing that suggests that the current waves of immigrants to the United States will not also assimilate after a generation or two. We have the technology and the know-how to put in place an immigration system that works while also legalizing the millions of illegal immigrants who are currently here.

People seem to want to blame so many ills on illegal immigration, but the focus should be the destruction of the middle class by big-business interests that have been shipping well-paying, stable, nation-strengthening jobs to other countries and replacing them with low-skill, low-wage jobs. Illegal immigrants have become the scapegoats. We are a nation built by immigrants. As citizens of this great country, we should lead by example and mentor the immigrants in our midst instead of fearmongering.