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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Following Through in Iraq

September 13, 2003

Re "Benign Autocracy Is Answer for Iraq," Opinion, Sept. 7: Ray Takeyh and Nikolas Gvosdev argue that democracy in Iraq would be dangerous for the U.S., which would be better served by an autocratic government. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is precisely the lack of democracy in the world that is responsible for terrorism, war and poverty.

The weakness of the authors' arguments is highlighted by their point about the lack of opposition-party support for a nuclear freeze in Pakistan and Iran's nuclear ambitions, when it is the autocratic governments themselves that seek nuclear weapons. While I am highly skeptical of the Bush administration officials' motives, they did promise democracy for Iraq and should not be allowed to back out of it. There is no legitimate party to hand over power to other than the Iraqi people.

It is disturbing that there are those in our country who would advocate an illegitimate dictatorship instead of democracy.

David Bendall

Aliso Viejo

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Iraq, like Kuwait, is rich in oil. There is no reason why the U.S. should spend its tax dollars for the reconstruction of Iraq. The reconstruction cost must be paid entirely by Iraq's resources. If we help tide Iraq over in its current financial crisis, we must make it clear that the money we spend must be repaid by Iraq.

Saddam Hussein was defeated. As a defeated country, the military-operation expenses also should be reimbursed by Iraq. It is particularly true if the Iraqi people believe a free Iraq is good for them.

We must abandon the idea that we must pay the reconstruction costs of any country we defeat. We have a tremendous national deficit. Are we rich enough to pay all the reconstruction costs and all the military operation expenses if we defeat all the countries of the "axis of evil"? The countries supporting terrorism, directly or indirectly, are not limited to a few.

James Tseng

San Luis Obispo

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In his speech, Bush failed to clearly state that the $87 billion he requested applied only to the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. Because reconstruction will take many years, we can anticipate requests for additional sums for several years to come. Americans are now learning the cost of going it alone. If the president were willing to give the United Nations a significant role, how much money would American taxpayers be saved?

Saul Goldfarb

Oak Park

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The real price of our occupation of Iraq is not the billions it is costing, not the scorn of people who should be our allies, not the bitter division it has caused here at home, not the bewilderment we feel each time a new reason is given for this war and not the burden that many generations of our children will have to pay to rebuild the schools, the roads, the bridges, the oil fields and the hospitals of Iraq.

The real price is the irreplaceable lives of young Americans who are making the supreme sacrifice for us. We owe them more than a mention, buried in a newspaper story, that "another soldier was killed today in an ambush north of Baghdad." We owe it to them in our newspapers and television to learn their names, to see pictures of them when they were alive, to know from their survivors what their lives were like and what dreams they sacrificed to liberate the people who are now killing them.

Earl Hamner

Studio City

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Bush says we must all make sacrifices to win the war against terrorism. With his request that Americans spend an additional $87 billion toward that goal, wouldn't the proper sacrifice be that the wealthiest among us forgo the very generous tax cuts that have helped create a $500-billion deficit for this fiscal year? In that way, the sacrifices of this war would be, at least to some degree, more equitably shared.

Allan Ides

Brea

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Bush should provide a list of program cuts and tax increases to pay for our presence in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that we are in Iraq, it is critical that we do it right. We are already passing far too much of our current costs on to future taxpayers with out-of-control deficit spending. If this mission is as critical as the president says it is (and I do fully agree with him that it is critical that we succeed), then he should have no problem in coming up with the tax increases and program cuts to pay for it.

Ted Younglove

Riverside

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