Regarding "As US targets Iraq, key rebels balk" (Feb. 14): Talk of taking the war on terrorism into Iraq and overtaking Saddam Hussein is prompted by fear and revenge. And we can expect Iran - a member of Bush's "axis of evil" - will be the next extension. And after that, where and when will we stop?
Our country should not take its enormous killing power into a region torn by hatred and strife. We need to lead the way and work with others to resolve international conflicts without resorting to military force. We need to listen to the grievances of our "enemies," and work to eliminate suffering caused by poverty, sickness, and oppression. We need to learn how to arrive at just decisions through diplomacy, wisdom, and patience. And to form a coalition of more humane governments, starting with our own.
Temple City, Calif.
Only when we put at least as much effort into building allies as building enemies can the war on terrorism have any hope of success. There are major problems now that war is our focus. The destruction of infrastructure and human life as a result of blanket attacks on countries labeled "evil" also builds hostility and is counterproductive.
In addition to plucking out terrorists, we need to actively and honestly build support for a nonterrorist world. The budget for peaceful assistance - targeted toward personal safety, food, shelter, and education for each "evil" country - should be at least as large as that for war.
Barbara P. Kerr
Continuing the war on terrorism is about more than scouring out terrorists. It's about our resolve as a people, and it's about the kind of world we want our children to inherit. Shall they grow up in a world of fear and deprivation? Or shall they flourish in a world of peace and prosperity?
Although most have supported the first stages of the war, there are a number, at home and abroad, signaling that they won't consent to further action. What they desire is a return to peace and normalcy. Many of those who do support military action seem likely to have a lower tolerance for loss and the use of extreme tactics than before. Then comes the danger that we will only be willing to confront enemies if there is promise of an easy victory. We all know that this isn't possible. The time has come to buckle down and carry this war on to its conclusion.
Coquitlam, British Columbia
"US forces need lessons in cultural sensitivity" (Feb. 4, Opinion) generalizes to illustrate the occasional friction between service members and people of other cultures. As commander of the Marines in Okinawa, Japan, I can attest that this in no way represents all of the Marines.
While some always will break the law or disrespect another culture, this is never acceptable. All Marines on Okinawa receive briefings on cultural issues and their responsibilities as guests and ambassadors, and individuals who transgress these obligations are held accountable. We account for nearly 4 percent of the island's population, but only about 1 percent of its crime rate.
We are active members of the community. More than 100 Americans volunteer weekly as English tutors. Marine units, clubs, churches, and youth programs participate in beach clean-ups, and volunteer at orphanages and senior citizen centers. Marines are trained to fight and win. They are also trained to respect those around them. I can think of no finer group of men and women to represent the US abroad than the Marines.
Lt. Gen. Wallace C. Gregson
III Marine Expeditionary Force
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