Don't be so quick to label military 'setbacks'

With regard to your article, "Setbacks in War against Taliban" (Oct. 29): I'm shocked that a few stray bombs and one executed rebel leader can be construed as if the tide of war has turned against the United States. This is a gross inconsistency in scale. In fact, I'm surprised that stray-bomb incidents even make the news. Are people so naive that they expect no stray bombs?

In a perfect world, our "smart" bombs would never miss. But we don't live in a perfect world; we live in a real one. There is a difference between disliking stray hits and concluding that they equate with the war effort unravelling. The truth is, all this coverage of missed hits merely panders to the Taliban propaganda machine. I expect better than that - and certainly deeper consideration of the facts - from the Monitor.

Tony Masinelli St. Louis

When 'candor' isn't common sense

I would really appreciate it if Daniel Schorr could define the word "candor" ("Wanted: more candor from Bush," Oct. 26). The television and written press have been given an unprecedented look into the inner workings of the federal government. Reporters in Afghanistan are making reports, making news, and publicizing themselves and their networks or newspapers. There are constant breaches of national security and information which could harm the nation. The press should remember their responsibilities as citizens of the United States.

I am certainly not in favor of censorship. I served in the US Air Force during Vietnam to protect our nation and our citizens' right to know what the government is doing. But if journalists know everything and publish it, our enemies won't need espionage - they can get their information from the news. Candor is not necessarily common sense.

Alfred P. Roach San Juan, Puerto Rico

IRA disarmament: slow, but no surprise

Every effort to demilitarize the conflict in Ireland must be applauded (Putting the IRA 'beyond use,' " Oct. 25). These moves were expected per the Belfast Agreement of 1998, but 30 years of garrison rule made the British reluctant to part with their fortresses.

It is no surprise to us that the IRA has now taken this step. At its core, the Irish Republican Army never was the "radical" group labeled by the British. A civil rights movement seeking equality in voting, jobs, and housing for Catholics was bludgeoned in the 1960s. Three decades of oppression followed. Prominent Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness were part of that movement, but chose to take up arms rather than face annihilation.

James J. Gallagher Washington

President, Irish American Unity Conference

Homemade costumes help kids, culture

Orchids to Tracy Springberry for "Costume debate: glue and heart, or go to Wal-mart" (Oct. 17), and for spending quality time helping her children make their own Halloween costumes, while other parents purchased costumes.

The lesson here runs deeper than that of a mother spending precious home hours with her children, as opposed to driving a gas-guzzling SUV to the shopping mall and dragging her offspring through store after store to buy glitzy Hollywood-Halloween attire for one-time use. Indeed, it represents precisely what is wrong in America today: Our solution to every life issue is to buy, buy, buy. Terrorists of every stripe, from Timothy McVeigh to the third world's millions of "have-nots," cry out for a leveling of the economic and cultural playing fields. Sadly, few Americans are listening.

Sue Collester Nashville, Ind.

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