Iraq: State of Siege
"The U.S. should not be surprised by the Iraqi insurgency. Iraqis see the American and coalition forces as occupiers, not liberators." DERRICK ELLISTON London
The most dangerous development that Americans face in Iraq is the menacing union of Sunni and Shi'ite radicals [April 19]. The members of the two main branches of Islam often don't respect each other. In Iraq there has always been a big gap between the Sunni government under Saddam Hussein and the country's Shi'ite majority, which was suppressed by the dictator and his followers. Now that Saddam is out and others are in power, both Sunnis and Shi'ites are disappointed and will start to fight hand in hand for an independent Muslim country. SIDHA BAGHAVATHA Bhopal, India
Thugs is at best an inadequate word for the Shi'ite militiamen of cleric Muqtada al-Sadr who have been battling the U.S. Thugs are what police deal with on city streets. But U.S. troops in Iraq aren't getting rolled for their wallets. Fighters using rocket-propelled grenades and firing at Apache helicopters are more than common thugs. These people are guerrillas, soldiers, insurgents, rebels or terrorists. Calling them thugs only downplays the difficulties in Iraq. Once President Bush and the American people realize we're not dealing with thugs, then maybe we can come up with the number of troops necessary to combat this violence. REGGIE NEWTON Chicago
The photographs of U.S. troops in Iraq made me weep, and for someone who lived through the Vietnam War era, that is saying a lot. These soldiers are the salt of this earth, but it is criminal for U.S. troops to try to "liberate" a society that obviously functions better under a murderous dictator. The Iraqis are merely waiting to see who comes out on top. They do not deserve to have U.S. soldiers fighting for them. The Iraqi men who were trained to protect and defend their people tuck tail and run. Not one American life is worth the so-called liberation of Iraq. If the Iraqis don't want to defend their country, why should we? How can you win the hearts and minds of the heartless and mindless? MARIE HARFOUSH Claremont, Calif.
It is not the Bush Administration that is facing a test in Iraq; it is the American forces over there, and they are getting killed every day. The U.S. did not send enough troops to Iraq to begin with, nor was there adequate planning for the period after the war. Bush thought we would be finished in a few months, that we would just plug in democracy and say, So long. What stupidity. PETER SEYMOUR Raytown, Mo.
There are "no easy options" among the Bush Administration's difficult choices in Iraq [April 19]. But here's one scenario: Replace the head of the Coalition Provisional Authority with an experienced mayor of a large city. Add to the military a police force that knows how to deal with an unruly urban civilian population. The one thing the U.S. should not do is "stay the course," as advocated by President Bush. PETER R. LANTOS Erdenheim, Pa.