Readers praised the subject of our July 5 report, Lt. Gen. David Petreaus, the man assigned to rebuilding Iraq's security forces. One called him "an invaluable asset to any army." Others weighed in on the war. "The U.S. should have no further obligation to keep troops in [Iraq]," claimed one.
Lt. Gen. David Petraeus is a soldier of formidable intelligence, talent and courage, and would be an invaluable asset to any army the world over ("Iraq's Repairman," July 5). He has all he needs to win what he is fighting for. But if he is right to stress the importance of winning Iraqi "hearts and minds," we are finding more and more that those hearts and minds are not easy to understand. How can anybody explain the mood of people who exuberantly celebrated the capture of Saddam Hussein with gunfire, but greeted the recent transfer of authority to the Iraqi interim government with silence? From the start nobody seemed to know what was going on inside the minds of Iraqis, so we kept adjusting our strategies, and making one mistake after another. You ask if Petraeus's job is a "mission impossible." It is not, but it will be, in General Petraeus's own words, "like building an airplane while you're flying it."
Andy T. Pham
Thank you for your cover article this week about my West Point classmate Lt. Gen. Dave Petraeus, an outstanding American soldier and patriot. I was disappointed by your less-than-fully-complimentary story, however. Dave is among the very best our country has in uniform and he deserves all our encouragement. During the 30 years I spent in the Army, I never heard the term "perfumed prince," which in no way describes Petraeus. He has commanded troops at every level from platoon to combat division. He has survived a fractured pelvis in a parachute jump and a high-velocity bullet through the chest, yet continues to serve the nation he loves. All Americans should be proud of him and the servicemen and -women like him who continue to protect our country--with their lives, if necessary.
Col. James L. Spinelli
U.S. Army (Ret.)
Columbia, South Carolina
Your article on Lt. Gen. david Petraeus was very informative, but it could have more fully examined the tactic of winning "hearts and minds." This soft-power strategy didn't work well in Vietnam and appears to generate only minimal or temporary results in states that are occupied after liberation. Earning the cooperation and trust of some Iraqis is a bonus, but the primary objective of liberation is to teach nations to fight for liberty and the rule of law. If the Iraqis are determined to succeed in this effort while countering de-stabilizing forces, the odds for good governance, progress, reconstruction and stability can rise sharply. We should remember that in America's early days it took 11 years to go from independence to the Constitution and representative government.
Christian P. Milord
After making sure that no weapons of mass destruction exist in Iraq and after capturing Saddam, the United States should have no further obligation to keep troops in that country and to suffer additional casualties among their soldiers. As the task is accomplished, a pullback beginning now--not in weeks or months--wouldn't entail any loss of face. So far nobody seems to know what the Iraqis want. The easiest way to find out is to see what happens to Saddam Hussein when the Americans leave. Then the Iraqis--who don't seem to crave Western democracy anyway--will be free to handle him as they wish: try him, kill him or make him president again, if that's what they want.
regarding the insurgent groups who are so determined to drive U.S. forces from Iraq: where the heck were they when Saddam was brutalizing the Iraqi people? How is it that Saddam's tyranny was tolerated while the U.S. occupation has inspired a rebellion to liberate Iraq? Did Saddam have such a stranglehold on the country that the groups couldn't operate? Is the U.S. occupation so much more noxious to Iraqis? Are the answers to these questions beyond the grasp of Western minds?
Latin America Is Not Hopeless Articles on Latin America seem to be written by people who don't have much local knowledge and insight ("Latin America Lags Behind," July 5). It is obvious that the successes of Chile and Costa Rica were not mentioned in your story in order to show that all of Latin America is hopeless. One of the reasons for the present social violence is the financing that former guerrillas turned Indian leaders are getting from European nongovernmental organizations, which are destabilizing several countries, even creating trouble in Chile, where political parties have sentimental ties to their ideas and cannot cope with the violence the Indians generate. Your reporters should spend less time doing interviews with the same analysts and more time talking to real people.
In his otherwise clear and helpful article on the economics of South America, Scott Johnson missed an important point. Credit depends on trust. Without trust, it is useless to throw money at feeble economies.
N. L. Livingstone
Ramsey, Isle of Man
A Tragic Loss for South Korea South Korean president Roh Moo Hyun should have carefully considered how his words affected Kim Sun Il's life before he spoke so hastily ("Seoul Tries to Play Both Sides," periscope, July 5). Roh and his political supporters claim that having troops in Iraq is very important. But --Kim Sun Il's life was more important. He was an innocent man who loved working in the Middle East, and his life ended tragically. Roh's administration is responsible for this tragedy and it must not commit these mistakes again.
Lee Ji Hyun
Daegu, South Korea
I am dismayed by the silence of the Arab media and Muslim religious leaders who do not come out loudly and strongly to condemn terrorism. This is not to say there are no exceptions, but silence is still the rule for the majority of them. The killing of American Paul Johnson and of Korean Kim Sun Il was repugnant. Kim was a South Korean translator who learned Arabic because he loved Arab culture. His reward was to be slaughtered in the name of Islam. But the terrorists who killed him have no connection to Islam. Instead they use the religion as a cover to justify their murderous actions aimed at thwarting the reconstruction of Iraq. They commit the ultimate crime against Allah by citing verses from the Qur'an taken out of context. Imams throughout the world must condemn the terrorists who have done such immense damage to Islam, Muslims and the Arab world.
Nehad A. Ismail
Disagreement on the EU Summit Your account of the "Acrimony Summit" is a surprise to me ("Muddling Through, Take 2," June 28). Yes, certainly there were huge disagreements during the European Union summit and there was voting apathy among member states, but your writer did not indicate that thanks to the Irish presidency, a constitution was agreed to by the European leaders, something which the Italian presidency, six months earlier, had failed to accomplish. Nor did the article indicate that George W. Bush and European leaders had a successful meeting in Ireland; nor was it reported that French President Jacques Chirac said it was the most successful EU summit that he had attended. I was disappointed by the negative approach of your article.
More Options for Stem Cells As noted in "The Life in a Cell" (June 28), there has been much commentary around the decision to limit federal funding for research on existing embryonic-stem-cell lines. The Bush administration's current focus on promoting clinical development of stem-cell therapies derived from adult stem cells is not only economically sound, but also scientifically superior to investment in embryonic-stem-cell research. Preliminary studies on embryonic stem cells indicate that the ability of scientists to control the fate of these cells is very loose. The scientific know-how to transform a population of amorphic cells to a homogenous tissue is critical for the success of transplantation, as well as the prevention of deadly teratomas that arise when nondifferentiated embryonic stem cells are transplanted. In both cases, the current state of affairs is rather weak in findings and high in speculation. The clear and immediate clinical alternative is adult stem cells. We may harness the potential of human embryonic stem cells in the future, without compromising our moral, ethical and scientific standards. But in the meantime, let us not keep patients waiting.
Alliance Manager and Research Team Leader
Gamida-Cell, Ltd. Cell Therapy Technologies
Americans: 'Bad Fish'? The article "Innocents Abroad" (June 28) prompted me to vent years of anger and frustration over anti-Americanism in Europe. After 40 years of working and living among foreigners, I am angered that we Americans are portrayed as bad fish in the sea of humanity. We have been the police on the world beat, the cleanup crew and the bouncers at the door who ensure that the party goes on smoothly inside. But that's where it stops. In Europe prejudicial comments are acceptable in many circles and are prevalent on television. It has become quite normal for Europeans to sneer, jeer and look disgusted at someone of a nationality they find unappealing. To Americans this is a sign of poor upbringing and small-mindedness. What Americans know from the history of Europe is that when narrow-mindedness, prejudice and hatred are woven together all hell breaks loose. My fear is that hate-driven small minds are endangering our world and forcing gentle folk underground.