Michael Duffy's piece revealed that the U.S. has bottomed out in Iraq [Sept. 17]. Americans are not merely war weary; they are exhausted and desperate. The Bush Administration's misuse of the military threatens to bring about its ruin. Furthermore, Iraq is not a nation, and nobody can unite its tribes. The notion that Iraq can be democratized or even civilized must be abandoned. But the industrialized world cannot risk a disruption of the Middle East's oil supply, so the U.S. must find a way to keep Iran in its box and prevent any of Iraq's three major sectarian groups from dominating.
Stephen L. Castner, CEDARBURG, WIS., U.S.
Our military is being broken by extended and repeated combat tours. The war is being fought on credit, and our debt is soaring while our national infrastructure crumbles. Those who support continuing our commitment in Iraq should step up and demand a draft and higher taxes. Failure to do so smacks of political posturing rather than true dedication to the cause.
Thomas C. Meyer, SHELBY TOWNSHIP TOWNSHIP, MICH., U.S.
The administration has tried to accelerate nation building in Iraq, evidently ignoring history and human nature and forgetting our own long struggle to truly become "one from many." If the Iraqis are nowhere near forming a united country, perhaps letting them settle into states partitioned according to ethnic and religious differences is the most practical and humane policy available. Maybe someday the better angels of the Iraqis' natures may bring them closer to union, but American blood and treasure are not bottomless resources for propping up a largely fictive nation.
Steve McGreal, CHICAGO
With God on Their Side
In "God as their running mate," Michael Kinsley said that, for him, anyone who believes in the literal truth of religious texts is "too credulous to be President" [Sept. 17]. That would apply to a number of our past Presidents. It sounds like Kinsley thinks you can't be a good President unless you are in line with Kinsley's personal preferences.
Robert Gibbons, ALEXANDRIA, VA., U.S.
I guess Kinsley fears that literal-minded Jewish leaders would ban pork and Catholics would outlaw birth control. And Muslims? Presumably he thinks they would promote terrorism, of course. Fortunately, the majority of Americans are clever enough to see beyond stereotypes. Great leaders successfully balance morality, democracy and freedom of choice, regardless of religious faith.
J.P. Wirig, WALNUT CREEK, CALIF., U.S.
So Whoopi Goldberg defended Michael Vick's sick sadism as "part of his cultural upbringing" in the South [Sept. 17]? Is she really that stupid, or is she just trying to be controversial? One could offer the same pathetic defense of spousal abuse or even of racists lynching black people, which was definitely a part of many white people's "cultural upbringing" in the South. Whether the issue is abuse of animals or humans, we should not dignify such behavior with euphemisms.
John Schauer, EVANSTON, ILL., U.S.
Burma's Persistent Problems
Thank you for reporting on Burma and helping make the world aware of the country's problems [Sept. 17]. As good as your article was, there is no way to fully describe to the world the difficult circumstances under which the average Burmese citizen lives. I lived in Rangoon with my family in the late '70s and early '80s, so I know how bad the situation was then, and I realize it has gotten much worse. Even though we left Burma almost 25 years ago, our hearts are still there.
Sally Nance, FRANKLIN, TENN., U.S.