Little enthusiasm for long-term occupation of Iraq

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Q: President Bush recently conceded that the United States faces a "massive and long-term undertaking" in Iraq. How long do you expect U.S. troops to occupy Iraq? How long will you be willing to support such an occupation?

This writer is 78 years old and has always been a supporter of the Republican Party. Because of my long-standing support of the party, I supported the war as soon as one American set foot in Iraq, even though I personally was suspicious of the reasons given to begin the war.

But as soon as President Bush announced the end of the war, I wanted to see our troops come home and out of harm's way. This did not happen. And I will no longer support the policy of a president who began a war based on fabricated evidence of weapons of mass destruction and a promise to rid the world of Saddam Hussein, which has not been accomplished.

This president is now ordering our troops to remain in Iraq for as long as it takes to establish a democracy. As each day passes we read of more lives being lost.

And what is our goal? To cram democracy down the throats of people who may not really want it.

Our president and his administration have lost their credibility and my support.

Edward M. Fritz

Ocean City

American goals in Iraq are fuzzy at best. Are we trying to impose a democratic form of government or to Americanize a foreign culture?

Saddam Hussein may have been a monstrous dictator, but at least his government was a secular one, unlike those of most of his neighbors.

Now elements of the Shiite majority in Iraq are pressing for a theocratic government similar to that in neighboring Iran, much to the chagrin of President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld.

It looks like we'll be in Iraq for quite some time.

Arthur Laupus

Columbia

The United States has taken on the role of world policeman, and the word "occupation" is currently the coin of the realm. However, there is no mandate for our occupation of Iraq.

That country is not and never was a threat to our national security. Its putative weapons of mass destruction did not materialize, and I do not expect them to do so.

When U.S. citizens recognize the cost of this ill-advised adventure, I predict the U.S. military will be out of Iraq before next year's election.

Personally, I do not support occupying any country that is not an immediate threat to our national security.

Nothing in our Constitution mandates us to become global cops. And I abhor the betrayal of that great document.

Rosalind Nester Ellis

Baltimore

U.S. troops will be needed in large numbers to maintain control in Iraq for a minimum of five years and in lesser numbers for many years to come.

It is too late to turn back. We must back up our troops and support them unconditionally for as long as it takes.

And we have to convince all the Iraqi people that a peaceful and democratic form of government is the most beneficial way to live.

Walter E. Boyd

Lutherville

Scott Ritter told us last August in Baltimore there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. And the peace movement knew the war in Iraq would not be a war for freedom, as our government had provided money and weapons to the dictatorial Saddam Hussein when he was killing Kurds and Iranians.

We knew that the corporate friends of the Bush administration would reap profits from war-making in Iraq. And we knew this war would be a quagmire.

In Iraq, more U.S. soldiers or Iraqi citizens die each day in a war orchestrated by the Bush administration and supported by many in the party of opposition.

Those of us who protested the war were right, but we cannot gloat as this is a tragedy of Biblical proportions.

The only way out of this quagmire is for the United States to end its occupation immediately and allow the United Nations to begin nation-building in a devastated Iraq.

Max Obuszewski

Baltimore

Ten years of occupation is the time frame that, before the invasion, I suggested to my daughter-in-law, whose sons were then 11 and 13.

I was dismayed when President Bush declared victory, for it conveyed the impression he did not know what he was getting us into.

Two or three years from now we may have to start drafting young men (and women?).

In five years, the older of my two grandsons will become eligible for the draft.

Ed Muhlbach

New Freedom, Pa.

I expect the U.S. occupation will last until the Iraqis break out the flags and flowers we were told that they'd greet us with when we first rolled into their country.

Ajax Eastman

Baltimore

As an early opponent of President Bush's war in Iraq, I felt American troops had been there too long the moment they arrived. Every new day's report of increased casualties on both sides (U.S. troops and Iraqi civilians) only magnifies my outrage.

Nevertheless, I hold no illusions about the administration's willingness to adhere to its imperialist agenda. The neo-conservatives are bent on bringing about their "new (corporate) American century," and the loss of lives is not likely to deter them.

Why would it? The largest budget deficit in the nation's history hasn't provoked a reconsideration of Mr. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy.

Similarly, Bush has maintained the virtue of his cause in Iraq despite an inability to find weapons of mass destruction and amid revelations that he lied about the need for the war.

Mr. Bush's recent bravado-laden taunt to Iraqi assassins, ("Bring them on!") shows the depth of his insensitivity to the individual American lives lost in each guerrilla attack.

This occupation will end when the American people realize that the Bush regime has made us a far more vulnerable nation.

I only hope that realization comes before the next presidential election, not after the next terrorist attack.

Joseph Christopher Schaub

Baltimore

At best, we may be able to survive for two years in Iraq.

Combatants in that region have learned lessons from the war between the Afghans and the Russians, the conflict in Israel and the fighting in Beirut. They know how to do this. They are fighting in their country for a cause they believe in.

Everyone knows there is an election in 2004. And everyone knows it is imperative to manage this war before then or there will be a grave political price to pay.

James Dow

Baltimore

Our troops can be expected to occupy Iraq for at least 20 years - or until our patience or need for oil runs out.

Charles Johnston

Pasadena

I expect now, just as I did when U.S. troops first went to Iraq, that their stay there will be indefinite.

President Bush never presented a clear-cut "after-victory" plan, instead charging forward like an out-of-control Texas bull. Now it seems as though his plan of correction is to let the chips fall where they may.

How arrogant of him to think that the Iraqis would welcome us with open arms.

This war was wrong from the very inception, and months later, this quasi-victory doesn't sit any better with me.

I support the troops, and I pray for their safe return. But from what I have been reading, they are ready to come home, and many aren't sure, after all, how right or necessary this war has been.

Shirley Hopkins-Thomas

Owings Mills

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