A soldier's-eye view of 'the other war' important for Americans

Regarding the Oct. 11 article, "A front-row seat in the plodding war on the Taliban": This is an excellent series on the soldier's-eye view of the war in Afghanistan. Ernie Pyle would have been pleased. The story was a reminder that war is over 90 percent uneventful patrolling like the platoon that writer Scott Baldauf was working with. As a Vietnam War veteran and former member of the 82nd Airborne, I can relate.

While it's hard to see the "big picture" at this level, the article provides a look at the foundational work and morale of the troops that most Americans don't see. Like the old children's nursery rhyme, these "little drops of water, and little grains of sand" - the groundwork American and Afghan soldiers are laying - are the building blocks on which the Afghan government will be built.

A suggestion for your next venture: Spend some time with the NATO soldiers who are providing the local security teams. This would cover another aspect of the war in Afghanistan that most Americans are not familiar with. The teams were a little slow in forming, but they seem to be taking root.
Bob Shaw
New Orleans

Informed decisions needed in any state

It may be good news for the war that "Iraq's little-read charter evokes strong views" (Oct. 12 article), since the Shiite majority is expected to vote in favor of the constitution. But voting based on what leaders tell communities, focusing on group rather than national interest, is not good news for democracy.

The real sadness is that this mirrors America's recent voting styles - government chosen by the color of the party, as a statement for one issue at the expense of all others, or because religious leaders direct adherents on which lever to pull.

In Iraq, few people read the document they voted for or against. In America, Congresspeople admit they simply do not have time to read the telephone-book-sized documents they are making law, and their constituents often don't read the referenda on which they themselves vote.

But no matter the country, being informed and making decisions based on information beyond what preachers and workmates say, or what the daily tabloid prints always seems a good idea.
Jim Wheeler
Winston-Salem, N.C.

Probationary period for Miers

Regarding the Oct. 6 article, "Conservatives wary of Miers": The nomination of Harriet Miers to the US Supreme Court should be put on hold by the US Senate. Instead, President Bush should appoint Ms. Miers to the bench as a recess appointment.

Miers would serve until the end of the congressional session (December 2006) and then would be eligible for appointment to a lifetime position if the Senate desires to confirm her nomination.

A recess appointment would provide members of the Senate and the public with the opportunity to evaluate Miers's performance.

It would also offer the American people more information about Miers's philosophy and views on important issues. Miers has not served as a judge. She has not written extensively on many legal issues. And she is certainly not well known by the American people.

Miers should be placed on probation. Recess appointments (which have been made for other federal judges by President Bush and former President Clinton) will help the Senate cast an intelligent vote.
Paul Feiner
Greenburgh, N.Y.

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