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A Struggle for Democracy and Health

June 03, 2004

Your June 1 report about the condition of schools in Iraq highlights the failures of our country to rebuild what we have destroyed. The administration's proposal to replace the Abu Ghraib prison with a modern facility is an example of misplaced priorities.

What will the new prison cost? It will be known as the American prison, reviled and hated by all. That money could be used to build a hospital complex and to purchase equipment to provide needed medical services for the Iraqi people.

Donald L. Hager

Los Angeles

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Like many Americans, I have serious reservations about our presence in Iraq: How long will our troops have to fight and die there, is our mission there clearly defined, how much is all this going to cost? But when I read "Kidnappings Bleed Iraq of Doctors" (May 31) and see what tactics our enemy there uses, I realize what we are fighting -- fear, ignorance and a Dark Ages type of paternalistic society. The terrorists' attempt to rid Iraq of its educated class (doctors and teachers) clearly shows what our opponents stand for in this fight.

Maybe we haven't chosen our battles very well, but to give up on Iraq now would be foolish and immoral.

David N. Cook

Oxnard

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Dr. Albert Bryan's assertion that we are not taking advantage of our medical teams is alarming (Opinion, May 30). Medical assistance from the U.S. armed forces ranks among the best in the world, if not the best, and we should use the abilities of our medical teams whenever possible. It is disheartening to hear that our leaders, who grossly misunderstood the postwar occupation, refuse to acknowledge such a vital part of postwar diplomacy. Providing healthcare and saving lives could be our biggest asset in Iraq. Another crucial misstep in the war of winning the hearts and minds of Iraq citizens.

Eric Maroldo

Los Angeles

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On May 30, U.S. administrator L. Paul Bremer III ordered the Iraqi Governing Council to delay the presidential nomination of Ghazi Ajil Yawer, a young tribal leader critical of the U.S.-led occupation, because the U.S. supported a different and more sympathetic candidate, former Iraqi Foreign Minister Adnan Pachachi. A Kurdish member of the Governing Council, Mahmoud Othman, said, "If they insist on this it will be very bad for the credibility of the U.S."

If our own government were promoting a genuine democracy in Iraq, staying the course and not pulling out would make more sense. Instead, Bremer disgraced those who proudly serve by trying to coerce Iraqi democracy into something unrecognizable to the Iraqi Governing Council itself.

Bruce Hostetter

Fullerton

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Re "Electorate Is Wising Up to the Iraq Blunder," Commentary, June 1: It is too bad Robert Scheer didn't wait for the Tuesday morning announcement of the establishment of the interim government in Iraq. He might have heard the thanks the prime minister of Iraq gave for the help given by the U.S. government and its military personnel.

It is amazing that despite all the errors listed by Scheer, Iraq and its liberators continue on with actions leading to planned general elections and an approved constitution for the Iraqi people.

David Musser

Fullerton

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