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The general's report to Congress

September 12, 2007

Re "Petraeus urges gradual drawdown of troops," Sept. 11

Waiting for Gen. David H. Petraeus reminded me of Samuel Beckett's "Waiting for Godot." Petraeus may have shown up with a report on the "surge," but the sense of futility goes on. The problem is not with Petraeus or with the armed forces. The problem is with the policy of unilateral action against a foreign nation. As long as the U.S. clings to the fiction that we can democratize Iraq and turn it from adversary to ally, the quagmire will deepen. The best strategy is for the U.S. to recognize its failure and set the date for the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq. For the politicians who supported this action and the families of the service personnel who died or were wounded, this will be a bitter pill to swallow. For the U.S. taxpayer, it will be an end to a persistent headache.

Robert Matano

Cayucos, Calif.

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Petraeus' forecast that 30,000 U.S. troops could be out of Iraq by this time next year helps both Republicans and Democrats. First, it gives GOP members of Congress the political body armor they desperately have been looking for, and second, it offers Democratic members the ammunition they need to keep the pressure on the White House. Despite his failure to deliver a knockout punch to either side, Petraeus has proved to be a scrappy fighter.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

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The incompetence of the House leadership was demonstrated during the hearing Monday. Two members used unsubstantiated information to criticize the reports before they were presented. In addition, they had difficulty providing a working microphone for Petraeus and had difficulty keeping the audience from disrupting the meeting. This is the same leadership that wants to micromanage the war against terrorists that is being fought in Iraq. When incompetent politicians think they are smarter than military professionals, the country is in trouble.

Bill Zelenka

Granada Hills

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Please excuse me if I paraphrase Georges Clemenceau when I hear Petraeus, but my memory is as long as my conscience is sharp. War is still too important to be left to the generals.

Doug Wichert

Los Angeles

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Re "A soldier, a scholar and also a politician," Sept. 9

The Times may wish to further refine its historical focus regarding the speculative military apotheosis of Petraeus to the pantheon of Ulysses S. Grant. The invasion of Iraq by an external force isn't remotely analogous to the U.S. Civil War and, unfortunately for Petraeus, Bush is no Lincoln.

Paul L. DuNard Jr.

Cypress

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