Tit-for-tat revenge for killings is not inevitable

Scott Peterson's May 13 article, "Beheading underscores culture of revenge in violent Iraq" adds to the general murky thinking about war. Desire for revenge is, unfortunately, a human trait not limited to any culture or place. Killing calculated to satisfy the desire for revenge ends up stimulating it. The 9/11 attacks stimulated our desire for revenge against Afghanistan. Now we are stimulating Iraqis' desire for revenge against us. Tit-for-tat is a syndrome without end, but it is not inevitable.

When enough of us band together to resist it with more constructive alternatives, it will lose its power over us.
Jean Gerard
Los Osos, Calif.

Relearning the lessons of Vietnam

Regarding your May 14 article "A deepening rift at the Pentagon": It is incredible to me that we still live with some lessons we failed to learn from Vietnam. No. 1: Political expediency cannot be placed ahead of national interest. No. 2: Our senior soldiers have the country's best interests at heart. Our civilian leaders, on the other hand, tend to adhere to their party's doctrine and further that doctrine in formulation and execution of military strategy. Worse, they have more concern for winning the next election than doing what is right and best for America.

The stated mission in Iraq, as I understand it, was to topple the Hussein government and establish a functioning democracy. To do that, the Bush government has diverted resources from the war on terrorism. Those resources are obviously inadequate, and no amount of posturing by Mr. Rumsfeld can deny it.
Jerry Lee Sewell
Smithville, Texas

Inquiry, not abuses, shows US style

In response to your May 14 article, "Rise of an 'Iraq generation' in Europe?": While living abroad since 1992, I have observed that generally, the world is jealous of the US.

The torture of Iraqi prisoners is now over because of official intervention, and the conclusions that the Abu Ghraib scandal reflects the moral character of America is ridiculous. Military investigation, exposure, and adjudication of this should be seen as a fine example of democracy at work. America is condemned on the one hand for being isolationist and on the other for being hegemonic and imperialist. How can this be?
Martha Goldhorn
Beckenham, England

The real problem: voters do know Kerry

In her May 13 editorial, uh, article "Why Kerry can't seem to get a bounce," Linda Feldman bemoans the fact that John Kerry's message just isn't being heard. She also reports that despite being a longtime senator from Massachusetts who previously saw combat and won medals in the military, Kerry still isn't known to people.

Actually, the truth is that American people do know him and just don't feel that he is qualified to be president. He has always had disdain for the military as he has voted against supporting them time after time. He flip-flops on every issue because he does not have any true core convictions.
Robert Shelton
Winter Haven, Fla.

Personally I don't believe in the polls. I'm here at the grass roots. Yesterday, I was at a discussion group of nonpartisan seniors. A couple of admitted Republicans said that, due to events of the last six months, they are considering changing parties. I, for one, will be voting for Kerry. I, for one, do not think he flip-flops. I believe that a person can have one opinion of a war before going into the fray - as he did in Vietnam - and then come home with a completely different view.

A thinking person should always be examining his views and conscience. I respect a person who can do that and admit to a change of heart.
Barbara DeStevens
Rocky River, Ohio

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