Iraq war did increase the threat of terrorism

Regarding your Sept. 19 editorial "Al Qaeda Needs No Excuse": I was frankly shocked by the illogic of the editorial, arguing against the idea that the war in Iraq has increased the threat of terrorism.

You say that "Al Qaeda declared war on the US and the West long before the Iraq invasion." As if Al Qaeda were an individual who puts on his pants each morning and had his mind made up years ago. The question is not the existence of Al Qaeda, but its strength. Our nation's actions will affect just how many such individuals there are.

You say "the US occupation of Iraq has provided Al Qaeda and other groups with another recruiting tool. But so did the US attack on Afghanistan's Taliban." The Taliban were directly supporting Al Qaeda, and Iraq's government was not. By attacking the Taliban, we were striking at Al Qaeda, which surely offset by a wide margin the Afghan war's "recruiting potential." The war in Iraq had essentially no effect on terrorists other than to rally them to a cause.

You also say "If, as some critics argue, there weren't any weapons of mass destruction to begin with, they can't turn around and argue that Saddam or others would have handed them out to terrorists." Critics who believed that the weapons of mass destruction did not exist were not the same critics who worried that they would fall into the hands of terrorists.
Jon Greenblatt
New York

Thank you for your excellent editorial. It is the most succinct reasoning I have read as to why President Bush is doing what must be done to remove the threat of terrorism. If the previous administration had reacted more strongly to terrorist attacks over the past 10 years there might never have been a 9/11.
Christa Schweizer
Marlboro, N.J.

'Too old to be any good' in the Army?

Regarding Mike Revzin's Sept. 19 Opinion "Uncle Sam does not want me": I read about the 51-year-old, would-be Army recruit and must sympathize. I am also 51, with prior Army service, and they still wouldn't want me. I'm just too old to be any good, right?

Think of the vast untapped potential out there for our nation's service in time of need. There are thousands of veterans who would serve again if given the chance. They could fill rearline support duties or stand guard and free up thousands of young soldiers for frontline service. It's a shame that these good Americans are automatically overlooked.
Randall McGinnis
Las Vegas

Mike Revzin brought up many valid points in his piece, but he missed one critical element. I know quite a few men and women in their 50s who could stand the labor, but the military needs to train the mind, not the body. This is why recruiting 18-year-olds is paramount. The Marine Corps can condition a man's mind into believing he was born to be on a hill where his life could end with his next step. I have been in the military for 13 years and know that I could not be programmed today the way I was at 18. I applaud Mr. Revzin for believing his body is up to the challenge, but with all due respect, I question his ability to adapt to the military mentality.
Darrell T. Lloyd
Berryville, Va.

With investment, jobs will grow

Regarding your Sept. 9 article "Why hiring languishes even as economy gains": While economists scratch their heads at the current jobless recovery, it's clear that the key to job growth is capital investment in our public infrastructure. The presidential candidate who understands the need to create such tax and investment policies will get my vote in 2004.
Stuart H. Williams
Tucson, Ariz.

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