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LETTERS TO THE TIMES

Analyzing Tactics for the War on Terror

September 08, 2004

Re "Five Big American Blunders in Terror War," Opinion, Sept. 5: William M. Arkin's piece is a succinct analysis of an asymmetrical war that has landed us in a quagmire. As Arkin poignantly notes, the voices of reason have been drowned out by hawkish, messianic pronouncements that arrogate to us the moral imperative to free the oppressed people of the Middle East from their tyrants. However, our actions on the front lines belie our noble, wishful thinking. Pummeling poor neighborhoods with 5,000-pound bombs is the worst recipe for endearment. Unfortunately, we refuse to listen to our sane inner voices.

John Kerry's recipe of more troops fighting a "smarter" war on terror is as wrongheaded as Bush's. Hopefully, our inner voices of reason will prevail. We "cut and run" in Vietnam. Now, I see "Made in Vietnam" apparel in our supermarkets. We're trading with our former enemy! Let's give the Iraqis their God-given right to find solutions to their ravaged country. The longer we persist in our wrongheaded policies, the longer we extend their pain and diminish our moral suasion.

Emmanuel Annor

Los Angeles

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Arkin is naive and he is also wrong. Not only that, he is asking the wrong questions. Everyone in the world -- the United Nations, the French, the Germans, Madeleine Albright, Bill Clinton and even Kerry -- stated that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. He had already used them on the Iranians and his own people. The questions we should be asking are: What happened to them? Where are they? Did they get sent to Syria via Jordan?

Arkin states we should be "taking a deep breath" and "figuring out a practical solution." We do not have the luxury of taking a deep breath. The terrorists want to destroy us and our way of life. He was correct when he said that "terrorism is part of a larger clash, a titanic struggle for national survival." One cannot negotiate with people who do not want to. The only practical solution is to kill them before they kill us.

Dafni Black

Culver City

*

Military expert Arkin's article contains one big blunder. The so-called war on terror is not about failed intelligence on weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, failure to understand that we are fighting an urban guerrilla war, failure to have a long-term strategy or failure of special forces to be able to surround a whole city or country. The strategy all along has been the classic encirclement technique to contain on two fronts the "terror master" states of Iran and Syria, which are developing nuclear weapons of mass destruction. It would take a military expert to miss this.

Wayne Lusvardi

Pasadena

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