Cindy Sheehan sets off a debate on national sacrifice

Regarding the Aug. 11 editorial "If Cindy and Akbar Could Meet," which said "[Ms.] Sheehan doesn't think the US should be in Iraq, helping the Iraqis build a democracy as a model for other Middle East nations ...": I can't speak for Ms. Sheehan, but there is a mainstream school of thought saying that democracy can't be imposed at gunpoint. By that logic, our mission in Iraq would be doomed from the start. Our continued presence might actually be making our goal less attainable, because our presence only serves to antagonize the Iraqis.

In other words, it's possible to support democracy in Iraq - and even to believe it's a goal worthy of personal sacrifice - without supporting the continued occupation of the country. The methods, not the goal, might be the problem here.

My guess is that Akbar Ganji would oppose a US occupation of Iran under circumstances similar to those in Iraq. Iran will most likely be freed by brave people like Mr. Ganji, not by the 101st Airborne.
John T. Korab
Albany, N.Y.

As an Iranian-American, I think America should use its power to bring democracy to countries in the Middle East. For once, we are doing the right thing in the Middle East. You are telling me Afghanistan is worse off now than before? Aren't Kurds better off now? What about the marshes in Iraq?

The problem with Americans is that they think this war is like a Hollywood movie - you get it done in two hours with a happy ending. I am positive that it will have a happy ending, but building good nations takes time. How long did it take Japan and Germany to stand on their own feet? I am sure you know it was longer than two years. So please, let's report things with historical perspective.
Farideh Nicknazar
Los Angeles

Regarding the Aug. 15 article "Antiwar sentiment gets champion": I regret that this mother's son lost his life in Iraq. However, no one forced her son to enlist in the Army. Ms. Sheehan has already had her day/time with President Bush. This is more than most families who lost loved ones in Iraq have gotten. Ms. Sheehan needs to go home and spend some time with her other children who must also be grieving the loss of their brother. She could better use her time in hosting a grief support group, organizing donations of items that military personal overseas could use, or volunteering at a local VA hospital for returning veterans.

The freedom of speech we have in this country is what is allowing her to do what she is doing. How did we get that freedom? By those who were much like her son. Ms. Sheehan needs to go home and President Bush does not need to meet with her. That will only set a precedent for anybody to demand to see the president for any reason.

Note: I worked in Washington for the Secretary of Transportation several years ago and you cannot imagine how many citizens call and expect the Secretary to be available for just them, and on any matter.
Irene Wallingford (USCG, ret.)
Salt Lake City

When Cindy Sheehan lost her son Casey to an unnecessary war, she turned grief into action to help prevent other needless deaths - a truly noble cause. We have Megan's Law and the Amber Alert to protect our children.

I propose a Casey Doctrine, requiring a national vote and a mandatory draft before US troops can be ordered into combat. This law might help ensure that our young men and women are never sent to kill and be killed unless we are directly threatened and all nonmilitary options have been exhausted.

We owe it to Casey.
Ken Bash
Camarillo, Calif.

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