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Change in Postwar Iraq

March 27, 2004

Joel Rayburn's "Beginning to Bloom" (Opinion, March 21) presumes that the United States had the right to invade Iraq in the first place. It didn't. Despite worldwide opposition, the U.S. basically granted itself the authority to undo a truly despotic regime that it once supported, during Saddam Hussein's most heinous crimes. One year after the war began, popular outrage has not lessened.

Rayburn tries to legitimize the U.S. occupation by claiming that the U.S. has learned from the British mistakes. But a "speedy and farsighted" attempt to colonize another country, however differently this might be played out, is no more just than it was 80 years ago. Furthermore, Rayburn omits the destruction wreaked on Iraq by the first Gulf War, sanctions and Bill Clinton's bombings. These actions helped lead the way to a quick military victory.

The U.S. is suffering from its own lack of democracy. Not only was its president handed power by the Supreme Court after Florida illegally purged voters from the rolls, but it has a high percentage of incarceration and a disgraceful disparity of wealth. How can the U.S. expect to impose "democracy" abroad when capitalism obstructs it at home?

Michael McGroarty

North Hollywood

*

Rayburn contradicts himself regarding elections that have not yet happened in Iraq. First, he pats American efforts on the back because our yet-to-be-actualized election timeline is "speedy" compared with the actual British experience from 1917 to 1924. Never mind that Rayburn is assuming that events that have yet to happen have already occurred. He then scolds "pessimists" for their "expectations of a swift conclusion ... [being] unrealistic and historically naive."

Which is it, Maj. Rayburn? Will the actual election events happen "swiftly," or should we temper our "expectations of a swift conclusion" based upon the British experience? Perhaps we shouldn't count our conclusions about Iraqi elections until they have actually hatched.

George Stevens

Los Angeles

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It's unfortunate, but I'm afraid our inexperienced president has failed to learn some of the important lessons of the past. Especially from the experiences of both Russia and Israel that, particularly in the Islamic world, you don't effect permanent change through the barrel of a gun. Rather, you create only an endless cycle of violence.

Gerard Kearns

Apple Valley

*

The Times "worried that the war would do far more harm than good.... Today we regard that our fears are being realized" (editorial, March 20). The Times is right on target. Bring back Iraq's mass killings of its own citizens. Don't just hit the Kurds with chemical attacks; this time add the Shiites to the favored hit list. Don't fire Olympic athletes who fail to win; it's better to torture them. Government rape rooms are nice ... add more of them this time around. Be more robust in the support of terrorism; increase the award to Palestinian suicide bombers from $25,000 to $50,000. And finally, be sure to crush any attempt at a free press in Iraq; only Western journalists should have the right of freedom of expression.

Oh yes, the war has certainly done far more harm than good.

Don Fenmore

Los Angeles

*

A week ago I gave my accountant a check for $5,000 to pay my 2003 IRS tax bill. As I was driving home, I heard on the radio about a poll claiming the average Iraqi is happier now, with Hussein gone, and more hopeful.

How nice! As long as there are people like me out there willing to pay $5,000 a year so that he can have new schools, hospitals and medical clinics built in his community -- while schools, hospitals and clinics in my community are being shut down -- why wouldn't he be happy? It's great that the happy Iraqi guy is getting a cellphone and satellite TV for the first time in his life, but the school my daughter goes to was built in 1954 and the roof leaks when it rains.

When I vote against George W. Bush in November, it won't be because I'm a bleeding-heart liberal, or because I'm pro-terrorist, or because I'm afraid of being attacked. It will be because I'm tired of paying for the Iraqi guy's happiness!

Dana Greer

Norwalk

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