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Victory in War Is Only Half the Battle

November 23, 2002

Re "U.S. Turns Its Back on Afghans, Again," Commentary, Nov. 18: Many Americans thought we won the Afghanistan battle in the war on terrorism. The truth is that our armed forces, with local help, won only half the battle. Unless we apply the same focus and vigor to the other half, we'll lose Afghanistan for the second time. We're on center stage. The world is watching to see whether we are reliable. People in Afghanistan and other Islamic countries where terrorism finds recruits in the swamp of frustrated hopes for economic and democratic reforms wait to see what will happen.

Our nonmilitary reliability must measure up to the effectiveness of our armed forces. This must be demonstrated in Afghanistan and in the Israeli-Palestinian settlement. We can't allow Iraq to distract us. We and our allies need to take the first step now: Reaffirm our Afghanistan commitments -- and follow these words with significant deeds of security extension and reconstruction. We must whistle and walk at the same time.

Donald E. Mueller

Huntington Beach


Re "Bush Notes Progress in War on Terrorism," Nov. 18: So, Osama bin Laden is alive. Meanwhile we have bombed Afghanistan back to the Stone Age. We have killed who knows how many young conscripts to the Taliban and accidentally bombed thousands of civilians. It appears that we have abandoned the promised support for rebuilding the country and rule is going back to the warlords.

Soon postwar anarchy will reign as it did after the Soviets left. Can someone explain to me how we are any better than the terrorists?

Charlie Wilken


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