The Sun's article "Supporters of war make their voices heard in Md." (March 19) highlights the sincerity, patriotic feelings and thoughtfulness of the supporters of the Iraq war. It also, indirectly, highlights the most serious problem that fair-minded observers have with their arguments that we should "stay the course" - to wit, nowhere in the article does any war supporter give any definition of what "achieving victory" or "finishing what we (or they) started" means.
We're not fighting a state or a nation that could surrender to us. The amorphous groups of murderers, religious lunatics, Israel- (and Jew)-haters and various other accumulations of America-despisers we loosely characterize as the terrorists we are fighting are not an army.
So, when do we win? And when do they lose?
Must we kill every last one of the "terrorists"? Does anyone really believe that can ever happen?
Or that meeting "benchmarks to achieve political reconciliation" will somehow transform those conscienceless murderers into good Iraqi citizens?
What, exactly, must we achieve before we "win"?
And when can we leave with honor?
Let the Iraqis forge regime of their own
I did not support the decision to invade Iraq. But once that decision was made, I believed the war should be carried to a favorable conclusion ("Supporters of war make their voices heard in Md.," March 19).
But the problem has become: What is a favorable conclusion?
The most favorable conclusion possible now, I think, is a stable Iraqi government.
Such a government would be cohesive and able to make and implement coherent policy, protect its citizens and borders and provide public services.
But this says nothing about the process or nature of that government.
And it is on this point where the shift of public opinion has occurred.
In its public statements, the Bush administration still says it believes it is possible to have a strong, centralized, stable Iraqi government that is inclusive and broadly representative, protects minorities and tolerates dissent.
Many of us who have abandoned support for the war no longer believe such an outcome is possible.
For me, and many others, the best possible outcome now would be to turn it all over to the Iraqis and let them work toward a stable government - centralized or not, with or without even minimal democratic processes.
Opinions of hawks not front-page news
It boggles my mind that on the anniversary of the horrific war in Iraq, The Sun chose to print as front-page news the opinions of Marylanders who support the war ("Supporters of war make their voices heard in Md.," March 19).
With nationwide peace rallies and calls to end U.S. involvement in a bloody no-win war begun on false pretenses ("Thousands across U.S. demand an end to war," March 19), wouldn't some in-depth news regarding the war's impact have been more relevant?
Voluntary greening will fall far short
The Sun's article "Green" (March 11) reported on various companies' efforts to address global warming. These voluntary efforts are welcome but will fall woefully short of the progress urgently needed.
Many scientists believe that the world has only about a decade in which to reduce greenhouse gas emissions profoundly if we are to avoid the "tipping point" - the point of no return after which climate change will accelerate irreversibly.
There is little debate within the scientific community that the crisis is already here: Indeed, The Sun's article "Insurers shrink from coasts" (Feb. 18) was a chilling reminder of this problem.
The Global Warming Solutions Act, which is similar to a law enacted in California, is before the Maryland legislature.
It is a good beginning, and we have no time to lose.
Taking simple steps can clean up the city
I don't have an anti-litter slogan for the city, but I do have a call to action ("Readers toss out slogan ideas to inspire tidiness," March 20).
The city would be much cleaner if people would do these three simple things:
Every day, pick up any trash immediately in front of or behind your house. Just pick up what you see as you go to and from your car. If you go for a daily walk, bring along a bag and pick up some trash along the way.
Every week, spend 30 minutes picking up any trash on your block.
Every month, participate in a larger cleanup in your neighborhood. If there isn't one already organized, start one with your family and neighbors or ask your neighborhood association's president to hold one.
Even two or three people can make a big difference in a surprisingly short time.
If even one person on every block did these three things even one-third of the time, imagine how much cleaner Baltimore would be.
There will always be people who are going to litter, but if the rest of us pick it up, rather than taking the attitude "That's not my trash," we can keep the city clean.
The writer is president of the Architect's Row Community Association.
Prohibiting all pets makes little sense
The ban of dogs and cats in bars and restaurants because of sanitary concerns is silly ("In Md., dogs and dining don't mix," March 16).
Some of the concerns about pets could just as well apply to some humans who patronize a restaurant or pub.
It would make more sense to establish guidelines for pet owners and pet-friendly restaurants and pubs. If those rules are violated, only then would it make sense to bring in the Health Department.
If the customers don't like dogs or cats, they would be free to patronize pet-free restaurants and pubs.
Plenty of city kids could use attention
At a time when so many young people could benefit from the attention of a caring adult, how did Susan Reimer fail to advocate a positive outlet for her empty-nest woes in her column "Kids took wing; nest is empty; I don't like it" (March 18)?
Just a few hours each week or month spent working with kids could make a pivotal difference in a youth's life - especially in a city where childhood and adolescence can unfold like a road riddled with dangerous detours and roadblocks.
Anyone who has had the privilege of tutoring or mentoring a child or teenager knows even a modest investment of time can be enormously rewarding and - much more important - can awaken and encourage a child's often-unimagined potential for a brighter, more successful journey.
The writer is a youth volunteer for the Sharp-Leadenhall Planning Committee.