While reading the account of soldiers leaving Iraq ("U.S takes its leave from Iraq," Dec. 18), I was struck once again at the illegitimate question that is so often asked about the Iraq war: Was it worth it? That may be a proper question to ask when a financial investment is evaluated but not a suitable question when violence is initiated.

Empathy seems to be non-existent. Imagine if the tables were turned and Iraq did to us what we did to them. What if you lost your family and business from Iraq attacking us and pundits from Iraq sat around a table with their lattes and discussed whether it was worth it?

Violence can only be legitimate when used to defend yourself from aggression and only against those attacking you. It should never be used to improve someone's condition because the people helped will always be at the expense of those you harm. That work can only be left for a deity.

Pat Sweeney, Catonsville