Readers responding to our cover story on the recommendations of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group were nearly unanimous that a new direction is necessary. One said, "The realities articulated by the ISG are some of the loudest, most credible and brutally honest wake-up calls aimed at the president." Added another, "The president is under heavy pressure to consider the commission's well-reasoned conclusions to reverse a failed policy, and I'm delighted that he is now leveling with the American people." One viewed the ISG report as merely "rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic," while another recalled that the president is elected to do what is in the nation's best interest, "not satisfy his ego or stick to misguided beliefs. The midterm elections have clearly shown that we are fed up with this Iraq misadventure wasting national resources and sullying America's reputation."
James Baker and Lee Hamilton of the Iraq Study Group came up with a revelatory conclusion about the war in Iraq: it will never be won. Your Dec. 11 cover asks the question "Will Bush Listen?" That's doubtful. President George W. Bush continued with the war in Iraq after no WMD were found and after Saddam Hussein was captured. How many more young men and women will be killed, maimed and crippled? For how long must we "stay the course"?
Paul Dale Roberts
Elk Grove, Calif.
It would be wise for George Bush to move forward with the bipartisan Iraq panel's suggestion to engage in diplomacy with Iran. Though Iran's leadership can easily be labeled extremist, Iran's mainstream culture is not. They are Persians, a people who carry a rich history of being cosmopolitan and forward thinking. Labeling Iran extremist is like labeling America politically red or politically blue, while in fact most of the country is a rich shade of purple. If Bush continues to place all of Iran in an extremist box, he will continue to alienate a general population that could push their government to become a pragmatic and stabilizing force in the region.
I was heartened by the expressions of hope in "So Now What, Mr. President?" that Bush may share James Baker's sentiments that beyond Iraq, the long-term key to Middle East stability is a final and sustainable resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian crisis. Having harbored similar beliefs, I have watched in frustration as this conflict continued to worsen each year. While the Iraq Study Group report may not be the silver bullet for all that ails U.S. policy in Iraq and the Middle East, perhaps it can serve as a catalyst for more vigorous U.S. engagement in creating a viable Palestinian state and security for Israelis and Palestinians. Recent statements by both Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas show both leaders moving back toward the negotiating table. I hope the Bush administration will meet them there.
Ambassador Edward W. Gnehm Jr. (Ret.)
Battle of the Girl Dolls The success of Bratz dolls is indicative of what is eating away at our youth culture ("Get Ready to Rumble," Dec. 11). I have watched the shelf space for these dolls grow so that they now surpass Barbies. Barbie used to be on the chopping block because of her unrealistic body proportions, but at least she was classy and career-oriented. Bratz wear too much makeup, and don't do anything but party and wear skimpy clothes. Do parents buying these dolls want them as role models for their girls? Thankfully, my daughter and her friends are now interested in American Girl dolls. They are more expensive but worth every penny in terms of character and educational value.
My mother recalls Barbie as "the first doll that could do things, instead of a baby you took care of." That was the ' 50s. In the ' 80s, Barbie was a dentist, an astronaut and the incarnation of other roles that girls could aspire to. For all the criticism of her impossible figure, she maintained that aura of a self-sufficient female. Now I am saddened to hear that Barbie is caving to the competition from the Bratz dolls. As a mother of three girls, I try to instill in them a positive self-image and an age-appropriate style. Bratz dolls represent a culture that complains about female self-esteem and yet, as you report, gives them dolls that they "can't take to school because they don't meet the dress code." Instead of complaining about how kids act and dress today, perhaps we should simply stop buying objectionable merchandise.
Your Dec. 4 article "A Latino 'spanking' " did not serve your readers well. It claims that Latino support for Republican candidates dropped 10 percent in this election, compared with 2004, because of Republican immigration policies. But support for Republican candidates fell across the board and at about the same rate among white voters and independents. Every exit poll showed that it was the war in Iraq and congressional ethical lapses that alienated voters, not immigration policy. Even polls of only Hispanic voters, such as that done by the William C. Velasquez Institute, found that immigration policy was not a decisive factor. No mention was made of the many candidates--Republican and Democrat--who successfully ran on a platform of securing the borders and reducing illegal immigration.
Rep. Lamar Smith
In "CNBC, take two" (Dec. 18), we misidentified CNBC's senior vice president for business news. He is Jonathan Wald.
In Tip Sheet's holiday gift guide (Nov. 27), the photo on page 60 of Eva Zeisel's Pinnacle Sugar & Creamer set made the items appear shorter and wider than they are. NEWSWEEK regrets the errors.