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No-win situation with Iraq and the Islamic State

To the editor: I'll cede the point to Jonah Goldberg that there is a clash of civilizations going on between fundamentalist Muslims and the West, and that the West's enemies are more than just some criminals. So? Now what? ("Prepare for a long war against the Islamic State," Op-Ed, Aug. 11)

Framing the debate is a useless exercise; it is the last straw to grasp at for those like Goldberg who have been so wrong about the Middle East.

The real question is what, if anything, will bring progress? Iraq was too much involvement. Syria, according to hawks, was not enough. One would think Libya was just right — we knocked out a brutal dictator without boots on the ground — and now that's a mess as well.

Some things are beyond our ability to control. What President Obama understands that Goldberg doesn't is that we can't solve this thing through warfare, and the only thing to do is try to protect ourselves at home and our citizens overseas.

The world is, unfortunately, a brutal place.

Branden Frankel, Encino

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To the editor: In 1623, the poet John Donne wrote, "Never send to know for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for thee." Those prophetic words were preceded by these: "No man is an island."

The bell is tolling for all of us, and we ignore it at our peril. Those who call for U.S. disengagement from the current Islamic terrorist onslaught in Iraq aren't listening to the bell.

If we don't confront the Islamic State now, we will be forced to confront it eventually — and perhaps much closer to home.

Louis H. Nevell, Los Angeles

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To the editor: Is the Islamic State like Al Qaeda just before 9/11, a truly imminent threat? Or is it more like Saddam Hussein before 2003, a brutal dictator who let us believe, falsely, that he had weapons of mass destruction?

Will our homeland itself be subject to attack by a "retaliating" Islamic State, or will it not? That is the question.

Harvey Pearson, Los Feliz

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