The solution to the U.S. military's problem of being overextended lies not in adding more troops [Sept. 1] but in better planning. If the military "lacks the cleanup crews"the military police, engineering units and street-by-street peacekeepers needed to occupy whole countries for months if not yearsthen it shouldn't be making messes in the first place. U.S. troops should be assisted by crews provided by other countries. We must give up our unilateral madness.
Long Beach, U.S.
In a high-tech war like the one in Iraq, a limited number of highly specialized forces equipped with sophisticated weapons can destroy the enemy. But once the main battles are over, many more boots on the ground are needed to protect what has been gained. Military personnel are not machines, and they must be rotated and refreshed, especially in a hostile or stressful situation. Perhaps American military planners should be examining as good case studies the historical withdrawals and defeats of thinly stretched conquering armies.
Sooner or later the U.S. is going to have to recognize that the invasion of Iraq was the greatest foreign-policy blunder in American history.
Darrell W. Brock
No matter how much the U.S. says the war against Iraq is a project to build a model of freedom and democracy for the whole Middle East, Arabs and Muslims know better. America's history in the areabacking Israeli occupation of Palestinian land, supporting authoritarian regimes and even intervening to abort potential democratic movements in the regiondoes not make credible its role of liberator.
I find it appalling that in his interview with TIME, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said we have adequate military forces. That is not true. My husband was injured while blowing up enemy munitions. The doctors recommended that he come home to heal, but the company commander said he couldn't afford to lose him. I don't know where Rumsfeld gets his information, but mine comes from the trenches. The soldiers are saying they have had enough, they want to come home and they are tired of doing the work of 10 men. The forces are not "adequate."
Fort Campbell, U.S.
"Road map to hell," about the bus bombing in Jerusalem and the escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians [Sept. 1], left one aspect unconsidered: since Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon cannot say publicly that he is against the road map for peace, he instead provokes Hamas and other Palestinian organizations by targeting their leaders. The Palestinians fall into the trap and overreact in seeking vengeance. Israel can then say the road map is not working and demand that the U.S. help crush Hamas and the Palestinians. If Israel were really interested in peace, it would have given peace a chance by refraining from targeted killings that sabotage the process. Surely, if Hamas is willing to have a cease-fire, the Israelis should respond in a like manner.
A Grievous Loss
The death of U.N. diplomat and humanitarian Sergio Vieira de Mello in the attack on U.N. headquarters in Baghdad was shocking [Sept. 1]. Vieira de Mello, the head of the U.N.'s mission in Iraq, was an indefatigable servant of peace. To have the extraordinary life of such an accomplished and refined man so brutally snuffed out is a devastating loss. In his career, Vieira de Mello exemplified all the qualities we value most: selflessness, devotion, candor, leadership, compassion and integrity. He inspired trust and stood for the individual making a profound difference. The displaced, war-torn, oppressed and afflicted peoples of the world have lost an eloquent champion.
the Iraqi people were angered and deeply saddened by the terrorist attack on the u.n. building in Baghdad. Here in Mosul, everyone has seen how helpful the U.N. has been in sending teams to clean the city, preserve the forests, improve the water supply, help upgrade the health-care system and rebuild and develop the city. Those who carried out the attack are bloodthirsty, murderous villains who are trying to derail the process of rebuilding our country. Many Iraqis believe Baathists and Saddam Hussein loyalists were responsible. These criminals were created by Saddam. He picked them from Iraq's worst social class and gave them money, high positions in his regime and weaponry. Now they have sunk back to their worthless status, and they want to make life in Iraq miserable for all. We will not let them.
Ahmad H. Kasim
Guess He'll Skip This Flick
You reported that director Royston Tan's intense, gritty film 15 explores teenage life on the dark side of Singapore [Sept. 1]. You suggested that Singaporeans will learn much from the movie's depiction of adolescent angst and despair. This is questionable. We Singaporeans have seen too many delinquents cutting class, chain-smoking, taking drugs, running away from home and fighting. Because the government has not yet approved this film for general release in Singapore, Tan said he feels like an outcast. Well, no apologies. This country was built by a generation of workers through strenuous effort, not by a bunch of whining misfits.
Crux of Controversy
I was surprised to read that Mel Gibson's film The Passion has mostly offended Jewish groups [Sept. 1]. If he were being faithful to the text, surely far more people would be offended, as the Bible implicates Judas, the Romans, everyone who has ever sinned and even God in the death of Jesus. With that in mind, it could be tricky to find "an overwhelmingly favorable consensus among people who might be offended," as a movie exec put it. But then consensus has never been the point of the story of Jesus' Passion. The Crucifixion has always divided people into those who believe in it as the great saving act of a just and loving God and those who see it differently. Gibson is in trouble not because he has offended some Jewish groups but because the Crucifixion offends liberal sensibilities.
A more intriguing question than who is to blame for Christ's death is what relevance it has for us today. To answer this, people would do well to read the Book before they see the movie.
Peter D. Leavitt