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Defense Chief's Pause for Thought

October 28, 2003

Re "Rumsfeld Questions Terrorism Strategy," Oct. 23: Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's "leaked" Oct. 16 memo on the "global war on terror" would be just another amusing example of the self-serving, desperate measures taken by political infighters whose stars are on the wane -- were it not for the memo also being something much more serious and tragic: a stinging self-indictment of an incompetent yet arrogant Bush administration that rushed headlong into an ill-conceived and not-even-defined crusade ... er, war on terror before asking itself all the hard and necessary questions.

It should have been unthinkable that Rumsfeld's memo would only now be raising this question within the administration: "Are we capturing, killing or deterring and dissuading more terrorists every day than the madrasas [Islamic schools] and the radical clerics are recruiting, training and deploying against us?" Had Rumsfeld, President Bush and company had the strategizing competence, or even the humility, to first honestly ponder the implications of this question, they would never have proceeded as recklessly as they did.

Patricia Feiner Arkin

Somis

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Bravo to Rumsfeld for his searching and courageous memo to Gen. Dick Myers, Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz and others. Software (ideas) can be quelled not by hardware (munitions) but only by better software. The radical Islamic schools should indeed be crucial focal points for our efforts against terror. The following statement by physicist and humanist Max Born goes to the quick of the matter: "The belief that there is only one truth and that oneself is in possession of it seems to me the deepest root of all evil that is in the world." That belief must be challenged in many places and forms with persistence, wisdom and ingenuity.

Roy Travis

Pacific Palisades

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The Bush administration is now openly censoring investigative reporting in Iraq and will not allow incoming flights with caskets to Dover Air Force Base to be filmed. When will the American public wake up?

John Puccetti

Ventura

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Why all the debate about American billions going thataway for the Iraqi infrastructure? Judging by history of good-faith (non)repayments to Uncle Sam, isn't the whole question of gift versus loan so much academic hot air? Hundreds of billions have been sunk into the world; I don't recall hearing about a check being in the mail to balance the international books. Call it the price that America pays for peace and to combat terrorism. If not, it would be nice (and laughable) to see the promissory note that somebody in Iraq signs.

Larry Press

Ventura

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