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A sad byproduct of war in Iraq

July 21, 2007

Re "Iraq, the vets' view," Opinion, July 14

We not only have thousands of innocent Iraqis killed and many thousands of our own precious sons and daughters killed or wounded, but now we learn that our troops have become so "trigger happy" that they are killing innocent families, often without a qualm. These soldiers and Marines are not facing an armed enemy force across an open plain, as in other wars. They are being trained to be insurgents themselves, to surge into Iraqi communities brashly. Our troops are not accustomed to this kind of warfare, and we are turning many of them into unrestrained killers.

No wonder they come home, if at all, wounded in spirit as well as body. What atrocities hath President Bush wrought?

GLORIA VAN GIESON

North Hills

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The tragedy in Chris Hedges' Op-Ed on the brutalization of troops and Iraqi citizens alike is that it may come as a shock to a large number of Americans and will be denied by the small number who still believe that the war makes us safer from terrorism.

What cannot be denied is the Pentagon's own survey showing a sizable minority of our troops agree that Iraqi civilians should be treated with dignity and respect, as well as a widespread reluctance to report fellow soldiers who kill innocent noncombatants. The survey is irrefutable evidence of not only a failure of training and leadership in our armed forces, but also, as one soldier pointed out, that we have "brought terror to someone else under the American flag." We have met the enemy, and it is us.

JERRY WEIL

Seal Beach

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Hedges criticizes our troops for firing after an improvised explosive device (IED) blows up around them because they might injure innocent Iraqis. Where is his criticism of terrorists who explode IEDs amid civilians? He also obviously believes that our soldiers should wait to interview drivers of cars speeding toward them to ask whether they are about to be attacked.

Hedges has no documentation of the "thousands" of young men and women who have returned home from the war deeply disturbed by what they have done, because it doesn't exist. That a few complain is a testament to the freedom we enjoy in this country. The United States is a land where you can criticize the president and the government and wake up alive the next morning to enjoy a latte. If some of our troops return home "shocked" by what they have witnessed, it is because the gruesome realities of life in the Arab world can knock the air out of anyone raised here.

LESLIE FUHRER FRIEDMAN

Venice

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I was the court reporter for the 24th Infantry Division in the Philippines and, after World War II, in Japan. During my 18 months in the Judge Advocate General's office, I never heard of even one charge of alleged brutality by our troops in the liberation of the Philippines, nor any allegations of brutality in the occupation of Japan. And, mind you, that was immediately after almost four years of intense conflict.

Could that be a consequence of the beliefs of our then-commander in chief, Harry Truman? Could our current commander in chief, George W. Bush, and his second in command have any idea of what President Truman meant with his adage, "The buck stops here"? I think not.

ROBERT R. SILVERS

Beverly Hills

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