Re "Iraq study group: dismal findings; dismal day," Dec. 7
The report from the bipartisan Iraq Study Group lays out in clear terms the terrible consequences of continuing the current Bush foreign policy: expansion of chaos to other parts of the Middle East, complication of the Israeli-Palestinian situation, further erosion of the world's confidence in the United States.
The message to the president is clear: It's time to stop worrying about your image and do the right thing.
We should be working with all the key parties in the Middle East to achieve a stable Iraq, even those countries (such as Iran and Syria) that we consider pariahs. As the study group's co-chairman, former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, points out, if we could work with the Soviet Union during the Cold War, we can swallow our pride and work with Iran and Syria.
It's time for pragmatism, not a continuation of 21st century colonialism. We got Iraq into this mess, so we need to lead Iraq out of it, and we can't simply cut and run, as some have suggested. But we clearly cannot do it alone. We'll need the support of many nations, including Islamic nations with whom we have poor relationships. This will require us to eat some crow in public, but it's about time this administration exhibited a little humility, given its awful performance.
JAMES W. CRAFT
Having just heard the Iraq Study Group news conference, I observe that the major military change recommended is to embed more U.S. troops into Iraqi military units as a means of improving training. Based on all evidence and past nonperformance (including cut and run) by Iraqi troops, this will greatly contribute to the loss of American military lives. Those U.S. soldiers will lack the accompaniment of well-trained and reliable fellow Americans to back them up in combat. What a nonsensical idea for the group to propose.
CHARLES S. HOFF
Rancho Palos Verdes
One hundred forty-two pages? Seventy-nine recommendations? How much paper is the Iraq Study Group going to waste telling us how to move forward from the disaster in Iraq? What is so complicated about saying simply: End the war, bring the troops home and spend the money saved on suffering infrastructure right here at home.
DANIEL M. LOFTIN
Do we really need a final report from former Rep. Lee Hamilton (D-Ind.) and Baker to grasp the gravity of the situation and the dire need to internationalize the efforts to achieve stability and security and rebuild Iraq? Weren't the bestial images of American and British soldiers humiliating and torturing Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib enough to awaken and broaden the consciousness of humanity? Weren't the gruesome images of beheadings and suicide bombings in Iraq enough to fuel our desire to set goals and actually meet them?
The Western presence is barricaded behind fortifications of concrete and razor wire, while innocent Iraqis are being slaughtered. Iraqis had not yet recovered from Saddam Hussein's tyrannical rule when they found themselves under the equally ruthless American and British occupation.
This is the irony of Western colonialism in the Arab and Muslim world. It brutalizes the occupying armed forces, who cannot admit to themselves that the people they repress by force are human beings like themselves.
MUNJED FARID AL QUTOB
It is time to stop blaming President Bush and his handlers for getting us into the mess in Iraq. The blame has to be on the nearly 50% of the voters who allowed Bush to be president. That having been said, all of us must now support the conclusions of the report by the special commission on Iraq. However, the report relies heavily on training Iraq troops. A big question is whether the Iraq troops are psychologically trainable.
MARTIN A. BROWER
Corona del Mar
I am reminded of a quote recently told to me by a colleague: "Authentic elders hold the ground while the youth make their glorious mistakes." I know not the original source, but I heard it just this week as we were lamenting the behavior of adolescence.
Our nation's authentic elders have held the ground and are proving our system works. The Baker-Hamilton group has delivered the wisdom of experience and is providing guidelines to finding our way out of the mistakes of this adolescent administration. I have hope, and I am proud to be an American, for the first time in many years.