Americans' degree of trust in Bush's war plan

Thank you for Mackubin Thomas Owens's Jan. 12 Opinion piece, "Why Bush's war plan can work." Mr. Owens writes that the plan "does not represent an altogether new approach to Iraq, but a necessary adaptation of the previous strategy to changed circumstances."

The president's political opponents seek similar goals in Iraq – training Iraqi forces, assuring governmental integrity, and when finished, removing US forces – while at the same time lambasting the president's efforts to accomplish this. Can anyone point to a Democratic leader, aside from Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut, who could possibly be characterized as a war leader – someone who is committed to destroying the jihadist networks seeking to destroy us? Near the close of his piece, Owens leaves a pregnant question: "Would the Democrats rather see Bush lose or the US win?"
David Holmes
Fairfax, Va.

I write in response to Mackubin Thomas Owens's Jan. 12 Opinion piece on Bush's new Iraq war plan. In an almost unprecedented display of national unity, we Americans rallied around President Bush as he led our nation to war in Afghanistan. While few today question that decision, many of us are left wondering why the president sidelined the central front in the war on terror. Nevertheless, many of us once again supported the president's decision to invade Iraq.

In the meantime, the recommendations of military leaders calling for larger troop numbers and the warnings of numerous academic specialists calling for closer cultural analyses were disregarded. Now, approaching the twilight of his presidency, Mr. Bush has asked us yet again to trust him on his latest Iraq strategy. And trust him we should not. I am a former Marine Corps officer, and I understand that military force is necessary at times. But military force won't solve, for example, tensions that extend back more than a thousand years between Sunnis and Shiites. And it won't solve the conundrum of trying to instill democratic rule in a profoundly sectarian society. The military has served honorably and fulfilled its duty. The president, on the other hand, has failed to provide truly competent leadership. We therefore ought to urge Congress to halt funding and bring our troops home now.
Matthew John Dorman
Santa Barbara, Calif.

Unions shouldn't have sole authority

Regarding the Jan. 10 article, "Free-speech dispute over union fees": It seems to me that, at least in the dispute between the state of Washington and the teachers union, the real problem is that teachers who are not members of the union are forced to pay union dues. After all, freedom of association should also mean that I have a right to not give money to people with whom I disagree.

Perhaps Washington's state Legislature overstepped its bounds in delegating to the teachers union the sole authority to negotiate pay and benefits for all teachers. Such a delegation of authority is questionable. If I don't wish to associate with the teachers union, then it seems logical that I would not want the teachers union negotiating my pay and benefits, either, and I shouldn't be required to allow it to do so.

Because the real problem is that the state Legislature overstepped its bounds, I think the question of opting in or opting out of the union-dues collection system is moot. I'm not a member of the teachers union – obviously, therefore, I have chosen to opt out of supporting its chosen causes.
Bruce Norbeck
San Jose, Calif.

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