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Leaders should look closely at war's effects

Re: Iraq through a filter, Oct. 28.

This editorial noted that President Bush did not attend funeral or memorial services. That's too bad. Facing families of those killed in Iraq might give him a better perspective of the results of war. (I say nothing about those killed; the tragedy of that speaks for itself.)

Other than in the abstract sense, I doubt that Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld ever gave in-depth thought to what really happens when the shooting begins. But it's not too late. All three should visit our aid stations in Iraq. I mean where casualties are brought immediately after being hit. No photo ops, just look closely at the results of being struck by jagged pieces of shrapnel, mortar shells and land-mine explosions, sniper fire and perhaps worst of all, excruciatingly painful burns.

All this comes well after Bush effectively declared the war won. Unfortunately, it's not over for the casualties. They face many months and even years of treatment. They are left as amputees (many from traumatic amputation by enemy action), blindness, disfigurement, stress disorders and more. At the same time, take notice of how little is reported about casualties. Maybe we shouldn't abandon Iraq, but just maybe, Bush and his team will give a lot more thought to the consequences of a pre-emptive attack on another perceived enemy. Just maybe, their arrogance and abuse of power will be tempered by better judgment.

Bill Donofrio, Spring Hill

President's news isn't distorted

Re: Iraq through a filter, editorial.

It put a burr under my saddle to see so much "Bush bashing" about Iraq. The editorial was basically a consolidation of remarks made by Democratic presidential candidates who are as antiwar as George McGovern was in 1972, yet some voted for this war.

As I was reading the editorial, a U.S. congressman appeared on TV, who just 12 hours earlier was in Iraq, and his comments were essentially the opposite of the Times editorial. The difference is the congressman was elected by the people and the media are nonelected _ not even appointed _ people who hide behind the First Amendment and side with a political party. The editorial slant was that President Bush should accept the conclusion of the media as gospel. To be sure, the president does not get his news about the war from the media; the system is not geared to that end. He has an ambassador and a general on the ground plus other agencies that report activities through established channels that are the official record and end up in the archives. That system is not distorted, as the editorial implied. The media are not the fourth power branch of government.

The editorial went over the edge stating that photographers were barred from chronicling the return of caskets of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is grotesque. No doubt, complaints by families of the deceased brought this about.

Iraq could easily turn out to be a hundred-year war, a war of patience, and no suicide bomber will ever be a POW or brought to justice. It's the nature of the beast. How much will it cost? How long will it take? How many casualties will we suffer? When are our troops coming home and will it be over by election time? These are questions that should never be asked. Politics stop at the water's edge. We have "boots on the ground" in Iraq. My son is among them and he says more in a two-line e-mail than all the editorials combined. The question asked by the troops is: Why must we be pushed around like pawns on a

political chessboard? When troops are committed, the nation is committed.

William H. Miller, St. Petersburg

Cutting through the war's numbers

Re: Does split in death toll mask war's real story?, Oct. 30.

The front-page story by Susan Taylor Martin was very informative. To try to answer the headline's question, my opinion is: Yes, I believe it does. The story asks, "Confused?" in regard to the numbers of deaths reported in two different stories. Well, when one looks at an old adage, "Figures don't lie, but liars figure," you may be closer to the answer.

The article also asks, "Isn't there a simpler way to let people know how many American soldiers are dying?"

The answer could be yes, if national newspapers kept a designated space on their front pages for just the accurate up-to-date death toll in plain view, each and every day. That way, most every American reader would be informed of the carnage in this Iraq atrocity. You report that Jim Naureckas of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, a media watchdog group, in referencing the deaths in Iraq, said, "I think the (Bush) administration largely sees these deaths as a P.R. problem. It's the same reason you don't see the president visiting wounded troops, which is something presidents traditionally do to show their gratitude for the sacrifices these young men and women have made. But this president doesn't do that because it would be a bad photo op."

Perhaps you should question the proud American veterans as to the way they feel about Bush's lack of effort to visit the wounded?

Nelson M. Powell III, Tampa

The motivation revealed

Re: "Iraq" is not just Arabic for "Vietnam," by Thomas L. Friedman, Oct. 31.

After all this time and all of the lies and lame excuses, the truth about invading Iraq is finally coming out. We can all thank Thomas Friedman for revealing it when he wrote that "this is the most radical-liberal revolutionary war the United States has ever launched _ a war of choice to install some democracy in the heart of the Arab-Muslim world." Finally someone recognizes this war for what it is and has the courage to say it!

The real reason for this war was never WMDs or dictators or alleged al-Qaida connections or any other such nonsense. The purpose of the war was always to make them more like us.

Of course, we are not the first misguided society to try invading other countries to get them to be like us. In the early 19th century the Jacobinists used the French army to invade their neighbors in the name of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity. In the early 20th century the Bolsheviks either infiltrated or invaded other countries to get them to adopt a workers' paradise. Before we get to carried away with our democratic revolutionary agenda, I hope we can pause for a moment and remember what happened to the Jacobinists and Bolsheviks.

Peter D. Andrews, St. Petersburg

On target

On Oct. 28, the Times scored three bull's-eyes in a row at a thousand yards: First, the lead editorial, Iraq through a filter. Second, congressman Jim Davis' splendid piece, Success in Iraq depends on our allies. I don't know whether Davis is a Democrat or Republican, but we need more of his kind in Congress.

Third, Tom Friedman's article, Expanding Club NATO to the south. I hope that someone like Colin Powell will think long and hard about Friedman's suggestions.

My morning read was marred only by the letter defending the bigoted views of Lt. Gen. William Boykin. I served in the Philippines in World War II with the Philippine Scouts, a part of the U.S. Regular Army. The Scouts included several companies of Moros who were Muslim by faith, and who worshiped Allah, the God of Abraham, the same God worshiped by both Jews and Christians.

Gen. Boykin should read a biography our greatest 20th century general, George C. Marshall, to learn how a general should conduct himself. "Public trust in a politically neutral military was a sacred trust to be borne in mind every day and every hour," according to Marshall's biographer, Forrest C. Pogue.

Thomas S. Jones, colonel, U.S. Air Force, retired,

Safety Harbor

Religion doesn't mix with war policy

Re: The liberal attack on religion, letter, Oct. 28.

The letter writer accuses liberals of not permitting Christians to publicly proclaim their faith. While I'm not sure if I qualify as a full-fledged "liberal," having voted twice for Ronald Reagan and once for Bush the Elder, I can respond by saying that criticisms of Lt. Gen. William Boykin have little to do with stifling free speech and far more to do with concerns that our foreign policy is being conducted on the basis of religious superstitions.

If Boykin, the letter writer, or others wish to make decisions on how, when and where to drop bombs that kill thousands of innocents based on their perception of the other side being led by "Satan," they do so to our very sad bemusement. Millions of Americans view the literal idea of "Satan" as being no more rational than attacking someone in the belief that they are led by Freddy Krueger, the bogey-man or perhaps Orwell's government-created Emmanuel Goldstein.

It is sad enough that George W. Bush has publicly proclaimed that he is "led by God" in his decisions, which have led to the deaths of thousands of Iraqis and hundreds of U.S. soldiers. But it is even worse to consider that ongoing and future security decisions could be made based on irrational myths. Boykin is free and within his rights to express his beliefs in church or on the public street. However, when he does it in uniform as a representative of the U.S. government, his comments are worthy of intense scrutiny, skepticism and valid criticism.

Stephen Heath, Clearwater

Cartoon was insulting

The Oct. 31 cartoon by Chip Bok on your Opinion pages portrayed an airplane hitting the World Trade Center labeled Radical Islam. Next to it was the image of the Malaysian Prime Minister saying "the Jews rule the world." It was labeled Moderate Islam.

The second image is an insult to 1.2-million Muslims in the world, and tens of thousands of Muslims in Tampa Bay Area.

That cartoon was not only idiotic and insulting to any intelligent American reader but also evil and agenda-serving. A dumb person might inquire about Bok's religion and hate all other members of his religion. But that is only the dumb person. Wake up, editor, and allow your cartoonists to blame the person for what he does rather than blame the religion shared by one-fifth of the globe's population. A big apology is due here.

Mohamed Ghabour, Valrico

An attack on Islam

Re: Oct. 31 cartoon by Chip Bok.

This cartoon was humorless, tasteless, offensive and meaningless. It's amazing that when anyone says anything negative about Israel or Jews he gets the automatic stamp of anti-Semitism. But when Islam and Muslims are ruthlessly attacked from right and left that is considered "freedom of speech."

I think that some of what the prime minister of Malaysia said was nonsense (specially regarding the Jews controlling the world), but I think he is absolutely right that the Jews use their brains. He is right about the fact that in less than 50 years 5-million Jews managed to make a tiny piece of land given to them by the United Nations the 5th strongest military power in the world while in the same time the Arab and Muslim leaders had nothing to offer but empty, hollow words and condemnations.

Let's not forget, after all, that the prime minister of Malaysia did not say that the Muslim God was "bigger" than the Jewish God or that Prophet Moses (peace be upon him) was a terrorist.

Ezzat Zaki, Lithia

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