Violence in Iraq shows the need for US withdrawal

Regarding the Oct. 13 article, "Iraq casualty figures open up new battleground": It is predictable but disappointing that the new Iraq mortality survey, which estimates that between 392,979 and 942,636 excess deaths have occurred in Iraq since the March 2003 US invasion, would become a political football. Gen. George Casey, the top US military commander in Iraq, criticized the study and cited a figure of 50,000 Iraqi civilian deaths but could not even recall whether the source was the US military or the Iraqi government.

A number the military will admit to is a staggering indicator of the tragedy in Iraq: Major Gen. Joseph Peterson, in charge of training Iraqi police forces, said last week that 4,000 Iraqi police had been killed – more than the number of people killed at the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on Sept. 11, 2001.

The violence we unleashed has so rent the fabric of Iraqi society that a precise count of the dead is impossible. That in and of itself is an indictment of our calamitous policies. It's time for a rapid, responsible withdrawal from Iraq, and we must fulfill our responsibility to the Iraqi people by funding reconstruction and reparations.
Kevin Martin
Executive director, Peace Action
Silver Spring, Md.

The best America is an inclusive America

Regarding the Oct. 23 article, "Radical Islam finds US 'sterile ground,' " which in part discussed America's history of inclusion: The optimistic version of the second law of thermodynamics is that a system finds its equilibrium in the state with the most choices about how to be in that state.

Similarly, the best America is the one with the most ways to be an American.
John W. Dooley
Lancaster, Pa.

North Korea's nuclear tests unjustified

With his Oct. 20 Opinion column, "The price of past US threats against North Korea," Daniel Schorr joins the ranks of the "blame America first" crowd. Because Presidents Truman and Eisenhower made strong statements at the height of the cold war – does that justify North Korea's leader in building nuclear weapons over 50 years later? Truman, in his farewell speech in 1953, said that starting a nuclear war was unthinkable. Perhaps apologists for America's enemies could find examples closer to our own time when attacking our foreign policy.
Nicholas DeNisi
Los Angeles

Fond memories of Armenia

Thank you for the delightful Oct. 17 article, "Right at home in Armenia," telling of the life of Arpinka, an 8-year-old girl living with her mother and grandmother in Yerevan, that tiny country's capital city. It brought back memories of my visit there in 1988, when our tour group concluded its itinerary on the study of Russian art with a few days' stop in Yerevan. We were the first group permitted into the city after a riotous upheaval with its neighbor Azerbaijan. After a welcoming reception by the city's dignitaries, we had the opportunity to explore this gentle city – visiting its art and historical museums, enjoying delicious Armenian cuisine served by genial hosts, and traveling around the countryside.

The colorful map accompanying the article is helpful in positioning this country in the framework of history and current-day geography. This first article in the series about children who live around the world offers a good glimpse into the lives of children in far away cultures – and the opportunity to embrace these young people in our love.
Eileen Detlefsen
Bellevue, Ohio

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