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Weighing a role for U.N. in Iraq

January 20, 2007

Re "Blue-helmet time in Iraq," Opinion, Jan. 15

Niall Ferguson has cherry-picked history again. The British ultimately failed in Iraq in the 1920s because they used firepower instead of finesse. However, they succeeded admirably in Malaya during the post-World War II insurgency by acting as police instead of conquerors. Unfortunately, political leaders seldom know or understand military history. They certainly do not seem to realize that troops are only really effective when used against uniformed armies of an opposing country. The unfortunate truth is that we could have avoided all of today's problems by simply acting like the British did in Malaya.

Ferguson is correct, however, that this policy would only work today with the entry of the United Nations. No one trusts the U.S. leadership today, not even American citizens.

LARRY SEVERSON

Fountain Valley

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I agree with Ferguson that it is necessary to bring in a U.N. force to replace American forces. The U.S.-led invasion of Iraq has caused and is increasing the sectarian insurrection in Iraq. This replacement force should be heavily composed of U.N. forces from Muslim nations. However, the basic premise behind this force must be that the Iraqi insurrection and the solution to the continuing occupation of Palestine by Israel be dealt with simultaneously. Only if Muslim nations can see that the United States and the Western powers will insist, with force if necessary, on an equitable solution of the Palestine question based on U.N. Resolution 242 will these two intractable problems be solved. Sixteen years in posts in the Middle East have led me to this conclusion.

PAUL CARLTON

San Clemente

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Ferguson's column is nonsense. The U.N. is no more willing to police America's Iraq war than it was years ago. The pugnacious perfidy of President Bush has pretty much turned the whole world against us. We can continue while more young Americans and innocent Iraqis perish, or we can cut our losses and leave. Whether we are the killers in Iraq now, or they are the killers in their own deluge later, the horror will be the same. Islam is suffering its greatest crisis in history. Only it can solve its dilemma, and we must be patient and wary and protective of our own self-interests, however long this takes.

DAN HANSMAN

Los Angeles

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