Ending sectarian violence in Iraq won't stop sectarianism

The Feb. 9 article, "New commander, new plan in Iraq," emphasizes the military solution to the problem in Iraq.

But relying on the counterinsurgency experiences of Algeria, Vietnam, and Malaysia is not going to be very helpful for Iraq unless the intent of the policy is replacing the late Saddam Hussein's secular dictatorship with a Shiite theocracy.

The policy that is aimed at defeating the Sunni insurgency will only strengthen what may be a Shiite theocracy already in the making. It is naive to think that a strong Iraqi Shiite theocracy will remain in America's sphere of influence.

I think it is only a matter of time before the coming Shiite state in Iraq will ally itself with Iran to fight the United States. Shiism was largely dormant for decades because of Mr. Hussein's Sunni Tikriti clan.

The new Middle East is not only threatening to Sunni states; it seems to be creating a strong adversary for the US in the years to come as well. The Shiites welcomed US presence in Iraq not necessarily because they aspire to have a democratic state, but probably because they saw in American might the only machine that could free them from Sunni domination.
Zerougui Abdelkader

Supporting the troops, not US policies

In response to the Feb. 9 Opinion piece by Roger K. Miller, "Want to support the troops? Share their sacrifice": I joined the US Navy Reserve in 1989. I was married and had a good job at the time, but I felt that the world would be a more dangerous place as the cold war ended. When Iraq invaded Kuwait, nearly half of my reserve center went to serve in the Middle East.

However, after 9/11, it became clear to me that this time, it was the US administration that might be making the world a more dangerous place by invading Iraq.

Although I repeatedly volunteered to go to Afghanistan, I would not volunteer to go to Iraq.

As an officer in the Navy, I refused to publicly criticize my commander in chief, as much as I distrusted him. (Last summer, I was formally discharged.) However, I saw refusing to serve his policies as a higher form of patriotism.

While I agree with Mr. Miller that we should share in troops' sacrifice, it's clear to me that, given the massive fraud and waste in Iraq, giving this administration more money would simply embolden it to continue its shortsighted policies and possibly encourage it to make a bigger mistake by attacking Iran.

I am fortunate that I can (and do) carpool with my wife to and from work each day to conserve gasoline, and I do it to support the troops – by keeping money both out of the hands of terrorist-supporting Middle East countries and maybe also out of the hands of the US administration.
Greg Stitz
Jacksonville, Ark.

There are never enough readers

The Feb. 8 article, "Where have all the readers gone?," echoes a claim that I first heard when I was much younger – that television was causing a decline in the number of readers. I suspect that if I looked back far enough I could document similar claims about movies, radio, and telephones. If I took the time to learn ancient Greek, perhaps I could find claims that the number of readers was declining in ancient Greece because young people were all hanging around listening to Homer and his garish tales of Troy and Odysseus.
Andrew Purcell

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