Is Iraq becoming a Vietnam-like 'quagmire'?

Regarding Daniel Schorr's April 9 column "Time to dust off the 'Q-word' for Iraq?": Perhaps the level of "quagmire" might be less than in Vietnam, but the essential elements were in Iraq well before President Bush began the incursion: incorrect or poorly defined reasons for beginning the action, vague or inaccurate assessment of duration of troop deployment, and now a populace with a growing minority who regard our "liberation" as an occupation. Even if John Kerry is elected, it will be impossible for him to remove US troops in a timely manner, as that would almost certainly lead to a civil war. The term quagmire now seems appropriate for Iraq.

All of this seems so ironic because the extrication of Saddam Hussein could have been accomplished if only we had waited on international opinion to involve the UN or a larger international coalition. Instead, it seems that with the likely "quagmire" ahead of us, we surely have repeated the past instead of learning from it.
Michael D. Veirs
Stamping Ground, Ky.

Mr. Schorr's opinion must itself have been dusted off from Vietnam. The differences between the Vietnam War and Iraq are so great that the "Q-word" has no reasonable application at all. For example, there is no powerful neighbor - no North Vietnam - that seeks to take over, absorb, and unify Iraq. There are no superpowers, such as China and the Soviet Union, in the offing. Resistance in Iraq is divided between small religious factions with little general support - they are no Viet Cong. Let's give the president's policy more time to see if it works.
Jim Child
Findlay, Ohio

Congress' pre-9/11 shortcomings

Your April 8 article "Congress, too, missed 9/11 threat" didn't go far enough. Congress has oversight of all federal agencies and allocates operational resources. Long before 9/11 Congress knew about lax airport security, knew about the computer deficiencies at the FBI, knew that the FBI and CIA did not cooperate, knew that the FBI did not share information with other law enforcement agencies, knew about anti-American terrorism - especially since the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, knew the number of travelers arriving in the US had increased enormously over the past 20 years while the workforce of the agencies that oversee travelers had remained nearly static. And members of Congress reduced the size of the sky marshal force nearly to the vanishing point.

Congress left the door open to terrorists. It should be no surprise that someone accepted the invitation.
Richard Barr
Manassas, Va.

Open up candidate debates

Regarding your April 8 editorial "Only Bush-Kerry in TV Debates?": A better formula for deciding which candidates are allowed in presidential debates is to let them join as long as they're on the ballot in enough key states to give them the Electoral College votes needed to win the election. In 2000, there were five candidates on the ballot, including Ralph Nader of the Green Party (46 states), Libertarian Harry Browne (49 states), and Howard Phillips of the Constitution Party (41 states).

The effort and the work that it takes to get on the ballot is the key, because it's a grass-roots campaign and a money-consuming effort that tests the candidate's endurance and desire to get the message out. That's a serious candidate, and until all such candidates are allowed in the debates, democracy and we, the voters, will continue to be cheated.
Lorenzo Gaztañaga
Maryland Campaign Coordinator, Aaron Russo for President

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