And your idea isn't any better, MaxRe "Iraq isn't Vietnam, Henry," Opinion, July 22
Max Boot provides the perfect solution to our little problem in Iraq: Bring in more military, continue the "surge," no diplomacy and stay forever. This in lieu of what he considers the disastrous Henry Kissinger solution to our little problem in Vietnam, with an additional Korean lesson twist on the whole affair.
Regardless of the fact that the Korean peninsula had and continues to have a homogeneous society, as opposed to the myriad of factions represented in Iraq, Boot feels confident everybody will get along fine as we employ responsible "interlocutors" to smooth the way among warring Shiites, Sunnis, Kurds, Baathists and anybody else with an iron in the fire. And then everything will be fine, forever and ever.
Boot takes a long time to say we should stay in Iraq just as we stayed in Korea, where President Eisenhower supposedly said we'd never leave and threatened nuclear war. Boot says we should pursue "democracy and stability" by remaining in Iraq until Iran and Syria "face the probability of defeat -- or at least stalemate." Because Iran and Syria -- he never mentions Saudi Arabia or Israel -- aren't leaving, I presume that means we will stay there forever and threaten to use nuclear weapons. That will make them come around to our point of view.
Dr. Strangelove, your place is ready at the negotiating table.
Boot fails to recognize there is already a "ruinous civil war" in Iraq and that Al Qaeda has no influence within the sectarian tribal culture there. Over-analyzing Kissinger's influence on the issue will not erase the fact that the invasion and occupation of Iraq is the defining foreign policy debacle of our time. Boot is right about one thing: Iraq is not Vietnam, but the two misadventures have a few things in common. We had no justification for invading either country and no justification to stay.
To Boot and others, admitting failure is not an option. The gravity of that failure is probably too much to bear for those responsible, considering the loss of life, daily violence and a destabilized, destroyed Iraq. Instead, they constantly search for a rationale in an attempt to justify a continuation of combat at the expense of others, who will do the fighting and the dying.
Mitch O'FarrellGlassell Park
Iraq is not a "war," it's a horribly botched counterinsurgency. A counterinsurgency involves as little killing as possible and convincing a whole population that they are better off supporting the occupiers than the rebels. But the dissolution of the Iraqi army, the removal of Baathist administrators, the closure of state-run industries, giving reconstruction contracts to Americans and setting up permanent bases demonstrate that the U.S. is just another colonial power. U.S. forces are seen as occupiers and wanton killers, like Redcoats. The opportunity to settle affairs in Iraq was squandered within three months and is gone forever.
I challenge Boot to name one counterinsurgency operation in all of military history that has succeeded under these circumstances.
Raymond FreemanThousand Oaks
We'll pay for the farm billRe "The dirt on farm subsidies," Opinion, July 24
The farm bill is a critical piece of legislation that will determine the course of agriculture and food policy in our country for the next five years. Despite having the cheapest food system in the world, Americans are arguably the most unhealthy, "starving" for real, nutritious food. The farm bill is at the heart of this phenomenon, which champions the interests of agribusiness at the expense of the nation's health, the environment and the viability of small family farms.
People should be aware of where their food comes from, and the fact that buying locally produced and sustainably grown products vastly reduces their carbon footprint. Shopping at the farmer's market and eating seasonally is one of the best ways to help the environment, improve your health and keep sustainable farms afloat.
Is anyone minding the kids?Re "The tyrants of summer," Opinion, July 23
Poor Marc Cooper. He seems to think that he's still living in a time when parents are supposed to behave like parents, and children are supposed to behave themselves, period. He simply fails to understand that today's parents are never supposed to behave like parents. Today's parents are supposed to encourage their children to scream as loudly as they possibly can, especially in public places that other adults have to pay to get into, such as hotels, restaurants, movie theaters, airplanes and symphony concerts. And everybody else is supposed to just act like they don't even notice.
David OehlSan Diego
It's nice to know I'm not the only grumpy old(er) person. At the shore of a fishing lake in a supposedly rural area of northwest Montana, the problem is not the level of vocal activity of the new neighborhood kids. In the last few years, we have been invaded by three families who buy their kids -- all their kids -- all the loud noisemaker machines possible, such as ski boats, jet skis and four-wheelers. The kids have them running back and forth (on land and in the water) from dawn until dusk. I am thinking about buying a weekend place where I can go to get away from encroaching civilization and uncivil Gen-Xers. But where would that be?
M.J. SnyderProctor, Mont.
Re "Ban cars on Wilshire," Opinion, July 22
Michael Balter is on the right track, but he goes too far. Surface light rail from Western Avenue to the sea makes overwhelming economic sense, no matter how attractive a subway is. But completely closing off Wilshire Boulevard is too much. Better would be to limit Wilshire crossings to major streets such as Fairfax Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. Wilshire should still carry vehicles, but only one lane each way. This would enable access to alleys, parking lots, passenger drop-offs and local traffic circulation. Depending on their frequency, Purple Line trains could share an extra-wide promenade with pedestrians -- as in downtown San Jose. Alternatively, light rail could run down a dedicated center median, flanked by one-lane streets, sidewalks and bikeways or the Orange Line.
Kevin CrozierSun Valley
As a person who splits commuting between driving and taking public transit, and who has lived and/or worked near Wilshire for most of my life, I must say that I love Balter's idea of banning cars on Wilshire. I would like to add my two cents: Close off the smaller streets at Wilshire. The areas where the streets dead-end could be used for some kind of green space for park-poor neighborhoods. Additionally, residential-retail mixed-use developments could be created in certain neighborhoods, an added bonus being that the developments would raise money to pay for the new rail lines. Will everyone love it? No. Will some people spend all their time, energies and resources fighting it? Of course. Will it be the best thing for Los Angeles in the long run? Yes.
Dorit Dowler-GuerreroSilver Lake
Balter's transforming vision for Wilshire is certainly worth further exploration to flesh out the needed implementation details and to get a better estimate on the true cost, including the net effect on the L.A. economy. There also needs to be a bit more study on the effect on people in the immediate area, as well as the businesses that front Wilshire, plus the handling of the cross traffic and emergency-services access along the route. What a great idea -- is there anyone that can run with it?
Kangaroo courtRe "Justices uphold kangaroo hide ban," July 24
It seems hard to believe that California is trying to protect a species of animal that in its native land is not at all considered threatened. In many parts of Australia, the larger species of kangaroo (as distinguished from endangered wallaby species) are considered vermin. There are plans afoot in Canberra for Australia's Department of Defense to engage in the culling of kangaroos on its land, as the animals are reaching plague proportions and endangering grassland habitat for other native species.
Many Australians own kangaroo leather shoes and belts and eat kangaroo steaks (very lean red meat) -- my dog eats it too. There is no danger that the kangaroo will become endangered, and it does not require the protection of California or anyone else.
Morgan HitchcockCanberra, Australia
I reacted with astonishment when I read that the Los Angeles Galaxy soccer club believes that it is at a competitive disadvantage without the use of kangaroo-skin shoes.
Regardless of the question of whether the killing of these species contributes to their decline, this position is simply absurd and ignores the key factors of competitiveness: talent, capability of the team members and coaching.
It's easy to make such ridiculous arguments when it's impossible to prove them true. Nonetheless, the Galaxy should be ashamed of resorting to such asinine arguments.
A crisis built on greedRe "Foreclosures in state hit record high," July 25
Why anyone would be surprised by the growing number of foreclosures is beyond me. Years of unchecked, artificial inflation of housing prices made homes unaffordable to average Californians or drove them to suspect financing options. This is less a reflection of a changing economic climate and more an end result of a period of unbridled greed that showed no concern over whether home buyers could really carry the debt incurred. Unfortunately, there will be an effect on the economy as more people are forced to quit their mortgages because half-million-dollar loans absorb too much of a normal middle-class income.
If the real estate industry had tempered its feeding frenzy and houses only jumped up by 100% (instead of 300%), there would be no crisis now. People would be able to buy a home and still have money left over to live on.
David D. Manos IILancaster