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U.S. death rate in Iraq fighting isn't so appalling

The Sun's report "The numbers tell how lethal Iraq remains" (June 26) used graphs and charts to document U.S. deaths in Iraq from March 2003 through June 2005.

During those 28 months, there were 1,726 U.S. deaths out of approximately 140,000 military personnel - or about 61 deaths per month.

To put that number in perspective, on July 3, 1863, Gen. George Pickett lost more than 1,350 men from his 12,000-man division in about two hours at Gettysburg - a rate of almost 700 per hour.

And I often contemplate what Iraq would be like today if the congressional Democrats and the liberal media had supported the war effort in Iraq from its inception through the current day.

I believe that the insurgents, without the possibility of "waiting out" the American public, would not have been able to recruit followers in anywhere near the numbers that they have, and the conflict could have been over by now.

And perhaps half of those 1,700-plus Americans would not have died.

Richard R. Tatlow


Level with the public about goals in Iraq

I agree that setting a timetable for declaring success in Iraq and beginning the draw-down of U.S. forces is a bad idea ("Bush assures Iraqi leader: No timetable for pullout," June 25).

But the Bush administration has not explained the milestones and measures of success that we should be watching for - such as the percentage of needed Iraqi security forces trained or the electricity being on in a certain percentage of the country for 12 hours a day.

Instead, we hear nothing but optimistic pabulum from the Bush administration. This is clearly at odds with the news we see and hear and the stories of the returning soldiers.

I, for one, am willing to support this effort in Iraq, but only if I am leveled with by the folks in charge of this mess.

Bob Sartwell


Attacking liberals to hide war's failures

Karl Rove, in an attempt to deflect criticism of White House policies in Iraq, attacks liberals with appalling remarks: "Conservatives saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and prepared for war. Liberals saw the savagery of the 9/11 attacks and wanted to prepare indictments and offer therapy and understanding of our attackers" ("White House stands by Rove's remarks," June 24)

I am a liberal and, like most of my fellow liberals, wanted to go after the people who attacked us - al-Qaida and its leader, Osama bin Laden.

Today, we still haven't captured him, but we do have Saddam Hussein, who had nothing to do with 9/11.

Terrorist cells have proliferated to the point that getting bin Laden would now have no effect on stemming their activities. Iraq has become a much better breeding ground for terrorists than Afghanistan.

And the mission in Afghanistan is not yet accomplished, as the Taliban has not been eliminated - diminished, yes, but eliminated, no.

Yet the White House stands by its failed policies with rosy scenarios and blustering speeches about liberal weakness.

We liberals have to learn how to spin things the way the GOP does.

Betty Tomek


Criticizing restraint sets curious standard

By criticizing Democrats for their moderation and restraint in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, Karl Rove is in effect commending Republicans for their readiness to act first and think later ("White House stands by Rove's remarks," June 24).

Animal reflexes are useful in a playground brawl. But a predilection for action over reason is not what I want in a government.

Robert J. Inlow

Charlottesville, Va.

Schaefer once again serves public well

William Donald Schaefer, our cranky, outspoken state comptroller, has done it again: His office has found more than $27 million the state is owed by liquor stores and bars in the city and three counties ("Hi-tech search targets liquor store tax fraud," June 26).

Computerized audits of the remaining counties will yield even more revenue.

It's reassuring to know that Mr. Schaefer is still on the job working for the citizens of Maryland.

Stephanie Charles


How long can China quash information?

While much indignation has been pointed at Microsoft for voluntarily censoring 5 million Chinese bloggers ("China's 'Great Firewall,'" editorial, June 23), we must not forget the fact that this situation is merely a symptom of a larger problem - namely, the Chinese government's pathological and ultimately self-defeating distrust of its own citizens.

It is hard to imagine that China's 87 million Internet users are forbidden to use the words "democracy" and "human rights" - words and ideas that most of the world now takes for granted.

As the Chinese leadership justifies these controls in the name of public order and morality, most people see through this excuse as an increasingly vain attempt to suppress information while using it to modernize the country.

How much longer will Chinese authorities be able to maintain this balancing act, especially as its increasingly wealthy and technologically savvy middle class begins to demand more freedom?

In the long run, the Chinese government's unwillingness to accept dissent through its efforts to censor online discussion will weaken China, not strengthen it.

In short, China will become a truly great nation only when "freedom" ceases to be a dirty word.

Stephen Chungjen Chang


The writer is director of the information division of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office.

Choices on abortion a very personal issue

In my opinion, the Democratic Party is not "in bed with the abortion industry" ("Support of abortion betrays core values," letters, June 24).

As a pro-choice Democrat, I believe that a woman has the right to choose what happens to her body.

That does not mean that I support abortion as a method of birth control, and I hope never to have to make that choice.

But women are individuals, with many different ideas about life. And every situation involves many factors to consider, such as morals, ideals, financial position and involvement of the father.

Abortion is not an easy decision. My mother knew a woman in college who had an abortion and a woman who gave her baby up for adoption. I know an unwed mother who kept her child and lives below the poverty line.

Is one choice better than another?

No one can judge.

Rachel M. Gilbert


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