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Life, death and ethics in Iraq

November 30, 2005

The Nov. 27 Page 1 story, "A Journey That Ended in Anguish," provides a profoundly tragic metaphor for the Iraq war: impossible to fully comprehend, un-American in its layers of corruption, with no honorable outcome in view, and the worst, a total waste on all counts, including our own public spirit of decency in the world. As I note these words, tears are ready to pour and my angry heart is racing.

JOYCE TAPPER

Van Nuys

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It's so terribly sad that Army Col. Ted Westhusing, instead of internalizing his despair over the rampant corruption in Iraq, couldn't have turned it outward into anger directed at the dirty, immoral, war-profiteering Bush administration. Those of us on the left would have loved to have him on our side. Maybe he could have stood with Cindy Sheehan to ask, "What noble cause?" Instead, this man of ethics, whether a victim of suicide or at the hand of the contractors whose alleged corruption he was uncovering, is just more blood on Bush's hands.

TAMA WINOGRAD

Studio City

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As a fellow graduate student with Ted at Emory University, I recall sitting next to him in a couple of seminars on classical philosophy. He was conservative and solid in his support for the military but also a model of kindness and open exchange.

As things have gone wrong in Iraq, and as we learn more about cynical maneuvers in our government, I have often wondered what Ted would say about the situation. I am afraid that I now know the tragic answer to that mental query.

I am also disturbed at the attempt to explain the situation as his problem -- that he could not "change his belief that doing the right thing because it was the right thing to do should be the sole motivator for businesses," according to a psychologist who reviewed the case.

But who is responsible for inculcating this kind of black-and-white thinking? Ted walked into this conflict as a believer in the rhetoric coming from this administration, and now his death appears to be partially blamed on actually accepting that view of Iraq.

Why is it so crazy to demand that in the theater of a war that we started, the businesses we pay should conduct themselves in an honorable manner? Ted was a rational, tough person who knew that businesses were about profit. Presumably what was offensive to him was the acceptance of that profit-driven morality in Iraq, where the U.S. had a higher calling.

MARTYN SMITH

Atlanta

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