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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Time to let Iraqis clean up the mess

Let's step back from our subjective view of Iraq and try to look at this situation objectively ("Staying the course," Jan. 11).

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Our invasion of Iraq and ousting of its dictator have left a serious power vacuum there. And our continued occupation of Iraq is delaying the filling of this vacuum.

Whether we like it or not, Iraq is in the midst of a civil war, whose outcome will decide who will control Iraq - or each of its three areas, if Iraq splits on Shiite, Sunni and Kurd lines, which is a serious possibility.

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Because the present Iraqi government is Shiite-dominated, as is its military, our support for this government makes it appear that we are supporting a Shiite-controlled Iraq. And Shiite forces are busy pushing the Sunnis out of Baghdad and other cities and into Sunni enclaves.

Serious ethnic cleansing is going on by both sides.

Unfortunately, American troops are caught right in the middle of this bloody internal struggle.

This will go on until the power vacuum is filled, and it is doubtful at this late stage that we are going to have much say in the result.

Indeed, it is likely that Iraq's neighbors will have more of a say in the outcome, because they have more at stake than we do.

Our further stay in Iraq is actually counterproductive: It delays the filling of the power vacuum, it increases the hatred against us as an occupier, and it hurts our relationships with Sunni Saudi Arabia and Jordan and with Turkey, which fears the establishment of a Kurdish state.

And it is certainly doing nothing to improve our relations with Shiite Iran and Syria.

We should be trying to get these powers to cordon off Iraq until the power vacuum is resolved so that a wider Middle East war is not started.

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Let's get out and let the Iraqis get on with resolving their own mess.

Robert E. MacDonald

Ruxton

The writer is a retired foreign service officer.

War on terror needs public's support

In response to the editorial "Staying the course" (Jan. 11) and the article "Iraq situation 'unacceptable'" (Jan. 11), I was pleased that President Bush, in his Jan. 10 speech, admitted he had made some mistakes in the Iraqi war, which he now hopes to rectify.

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As an American citizen and a naval veteran, I fully support Mr. Bush's new plans.

The United States definitely has the responsibility and obligation to continue assisting in the stabilization of Iraq. After all, we started the war and we must help to finish it.

I find it most difficult to comprehend why so many politicians who supported this invasion now want to jump ship.

They apparently do not possess the intestinal fortitude to stand up and defend their original commitments.

This irresponsible group - along with many of the newly elected members of Congress, the majority of the media and most of the American people - are showing little patriotism or interest in protecting their liberty and freedom or that of future generations.

But this global war against the terrorists and extremists can't be won without the support of all Americans.

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Quinton D. Thompson

Towson

No reason to impugn president's motives

The situation in Iraq is deeply troubling, and President Bush's strategy of putting more troops on the ground there can certainly be questioned - as, frankly, any strategy put forth in these current circumstances could be.

Nevertheless, for The Sun to accuse the president of proposing this plan, which does put more American lives at risk in Iraq, out of his "desire to thumb his nose at the recommendations of the Iraq Study Group, and his desire to pick a fight with the Democratic Congress" is totally unfounded and constitutes reckless journalism ("Staying the course," Jan. 11).

There is no basis to believe this or any president would stoop to petty personal politics when deciding to send soldiers into battle.

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Doug Lombardo

Timonium

New troops only add fuel to war's fires

The Sun's editorial "Staying the course" (Jan. 11) and the editorial cartoon with the caption "Gasoline! More Gasoline!" ("Another View," Jan. 11) say it clearly: President Bush's strategy of sending 20,000-plus additional troops to the hellish conflict in Iraq will do nothing to promote reconciliation; rather, it is akin to pouring gasoline on an increasingly out-of-control fire.

The war was unprovoked and unnecessary, and continues to maim and kill Americans and Iraqis for no discernible reason.

It is time for a surge of creative diplomacy.

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The United States needs to work with Iraqis and Iran and Syria, and a force led by the United Nations should begin rebuilding the shattered country of Iraq.

U.S. troops should begin to be brought home out of harm's way.

Lee Lears

Annapolis

Ehrlich still evades the blame for losing

In The Sun's interview with Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr., he fails once again - as he has since he lost the election - to put blame for his historic loss (he was the only governor to lose a race for re-election across the entire country) where it belongs - his own shoulders ("Stopped short of his goal," Jan. 14).

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The race was his to lose, and he blew it, no one else: not President Bush, not the Republican Party, not ideology, not the voters of Maryland.

Mr. Ehrlich lost the election, and now it's time for him to step up to the plate, and take his lumps like a man.

Blaine Taylor

Towson

A dog who limits access to snacks

In his response to a Sun article about a weight-loss drug for dogs, a reader notes that he has yet to see a dog that can open a refrigerator ("Do we need drugs to keep dogs fit?" letters, Jan. 9).

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The writer has obviously not met my 90-pound Labrador mix, Nemo, who enjoys midnight snacks unless the refrigerator is duct-taped shut.

In our house, Nemo has thus taken the responsibility of ensuring that the rest of the family doesn't get fat.

Marycatherine Augustyn

Lutherville

Remember progress the Ravens showed

I know everyone is angry, disappointed and pointing fingers at all the Ravens personnel they can find ("Purple Pain," Jan. 14).

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I'm disappointed that they lost to the Colts, too. But you know what? I remember a lot of afternoons, and a few evenings as well, when our team played exciting football, and we won more games than I expected this year. Have we all forgotten last year's dismal record?

So give it a rest. The Ravens players are more miserable than we can possibly be.

As a true sports fan, I'm ready for next year.

Carole Fisher

Ellicott City

Children can learn lesson from the loss

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There is a lesson for our children and grandchildren to learn in the Ravens loss - the good guys don't always win ("Purple Pain," Jan. 14).

Norman Shillman

Pikesville


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