To the editor: Professor Joseph J. Ellis' essay should be mandatory reading for all Americans. ("The American way of war: It may surprise you," Op-Ed, July 1)

When any politician is eager to go to war, watch out. Any objective reading of U.S. history would show that the Mexican-American War of 1845, the Spanish-American War of 1898, the Vietnam War and the 2003 Iraq War were bogus.

Our presidents — from James Polk, to William McKinley, to Lyndon Johnson and, of course, George W. Bush — lied this nation into war for imperial ambitions. That's why we are called an empire.

This is what happens when too many of our citizens are not paying attention. Remember, voters (and non-voters) get the government they deserve.

Bob Teigan, Santa Susana

..

To the editor: Ellis needs to review his facts about how we got into Iraq in the first place.

President Bush was not just persuaded by Vice President Dick Cheney on Iraq and weapons of mass destruction. Saddam Hussein himself let the world believe he had these weapons: He explained he wanted everyone to think as much so they would leave him alone. Furthermore, intelligence agencies from some other countries backed up the U.S. at the time.

And now we must stay out while the Iraqis decide what kind of a country they want.

Dick Ettington, Palos Verdes Peninsula

..

To the editor: Ellis mentions the American media's complicity in the historically predictable pattern of war justifications to invade Iraq.

I happened to be in Europe during the first few days of the invasion in March 2003. CNN's broadcasts there about the war were serious and sober, but when I returned home days later to watch the news at home, I saw entertainment instead of news. Segments opened with patriotic music, and reporters sounded more excited than worried about the "shock and awe."

The manipulating contrast between the two tailored broadcasts was appalling to witness. I realized then how blinded we Americans are from the realities of the rest of the world.

Kathy Harty, Arcadia