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Troops Bear the Burden of Leaders' Mistakes

September 17, 2003

Re "A General's High-Stakes Fight," Sept. 14: Eliminate weapons of mass destruction, depose Saddam Hussein and establish a democratic society -- these are the purported goals of our U.S. invasion of Iraq. Your story claims that Lt. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez believes his (our) "soldiers can still make the U.S. presence in Iraq a success."

But Hussein is gone; we've assassinated his sons and grandson. There are no weapons of mass destruction. And no one can impose democracy on a society occupied by a foreign military. Please remind me, what are we doing there besides fanning hatred and killing police officers (Sept. 13)?

Sanchez also says that "America's sons and daughters are doing a fabulous job here" in Iraq. Foot soldiers are doing what they can; it's the top brass and the administration at home that are delusional and responsible for each loss of life and the useless hemorrhaging of domestic dollars. How can we get out of there and make Iraq whole?

Suzanne T. Reading

Crestline

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In "Bush Salutes War-Weary Army Division" (Sept. 13) there is the statistic I have searched for in my daily reading of your paper: "A total of 290 American service members have died in Iraq and more than 1,100 have been wounded since the campaign began March 20." I strongly believe that when you report the dead it is important that you also report the number wounded. Especially since, a few pages later, "More Protest Limiting Disability for Veterans" reports that proposals are being considered by the Bush administration to shrink the number of military personnel who qualify for disability benefits by changes in the definition of service-connected disability that, according to Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), "could have far-reaching and unintended consequences for millions of service members and veterans."

Carol Hagen

Ojai

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The problem of who should oversee the reconstruction of Iraq -- the U.S. or the U.N. -- can be easily resolved: Let the people of Iraq decide. Hold an internationally monitored referendum on the issue. Let the U.S. and France provide their proposals, and give the Iraqi people a taste of democracy. If President Bush is really serious about making Iraq a model democracy, what better way to start? Of course, if it's only about the oil, well ...

James R. Treglio

San Diego

Peace will come to Iraq when we see our first Iraqi war brides.

Bob Schrynemakers

Torrance

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