LETTERS: Readers Debate the ‘Right’ Choice on Iraq

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By: E&P Staff

Letters printed in this space should be sent to letters@editorandpublisher.com.

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Re: Newspaper Makes ‘Right’ Choice on Iraq

The idea of a newspaper “controlled” by Richard Mellon Scaife calling for a phased withdrawal from Iraq is surprising only to those with frozen, ideological views of American politics. Politically conservative publishers have traditionally allowed latitude to the dissenting instincts of their editorial employees, from Luce to Murdoch (who, it is interesting to recall, once owned The Village Voice) to the Wall Street Journal.

It reminds us that in the real world, vice and virtue do not observe party lines in American politics. The only prominent voices raised against FDR’s internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II were Sen. Robert Taft and the FBI’s J. Edgar Hoover; by contrast, liberal icon Eleanor Roosevelt was defending this worst single violation of civil liberties in American history even as she was denouncing Joe McCarthy. Hence, the old-line Republican Warren Harding and his Attorney-General Harry Daugherty released the Socialist leader Eugene Debs from the jail that the progressive Democrat Wilson had put him in for opposing Wilson’s war. (Daugherty, who has had a terrible historical press, said “I never met a man I liked better.”) It’s refreshing to see a reminder that mechanical party lining is still not mandatory in the American news media, and that people and institutions are more complex than ideological labels can convey.

Mark Richard
Columbus, Ohio

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Your example of a newspaper “coming around” to the withdrawal concept, while perhaps portending an encouraging trend, is on its own not exactly a shining one. The author’s point is that we need the troops to attack Iran next.

Perhaps U.S. corporations have reached “peak profit” on this war, and we need to start the next one to keep the gravy train running?

Don Oliver

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If I understand you, Mr. Scaife controls the editorial board? Of course, the fact that Congressman Murtha is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran makes his analysis stronger than those generals who are also highly decorated and are running things! I think not. There are many others, higher in rank and with a better understanding of what is happening on the ground that a veteran who hasn?t been in a war for over thirty years, whose judgment I value more than Murtha?s. On the flip side, we already have a drawdown in troop strength in progress. To withdraw troops too early is to doom the possibility of a successful transition to democracy!

I too am a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, having spent over 13 months in country. Analogies to Vietnam are without merit. One should make analogies to Afghanistan. Troops are still being killed there and the Taliban is trying to derail the developing democracy there! We haven?t finished the job in either country but progress is undeniable. Neither place is Vietnam where we fought with our hands tied.

One should also give pause to rethink the idea that we need to redeploy troops in preparation to the possibility of a need to militarily confront Iran! A glance at a map will show that we have troops and bases on both sides of Iran! As for those who believe we can?t win, they should realize that we have already won the war. Now we must win the peace by assisting the Iraqi government until it can do the job. That does take time for training as well as time for the political process to mature.

The Taliban doesn?t rule in Afghanistan nor does Saddam Hussein. As those who condemned Bush for calling Iran a part of the axis of evil to now say he ignored Iran is hypocrisy. Many of these are the same folks who call for action now but criticized Bush for not using diplomacy instead of force.

H. Michael Sarkisian
Sacramento, Calif.
United States Army
Republic of Vietnam
1969-1970
Bronze Star, ARCOM, etc.

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In Praise of Riverbend

Re: Iraqi Blogger Pays Tribute to Translator Killed in Abduction

God bless and protect both Jill Carroll and Riverbend, who blogs from Baghdad with such power and poignancy. As she often does, Riverbend brought me to tears over the awful loss of Jill Carroll’s interpreter, Alan.

Ethel Steadman
Virginia Beach, Va.

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Open Letter to the ‘Washington Post’

“L’affaire Debbie Howell” represents a serious problem at the Washington Post — not with its readers.

Deborah Howell printed blatant falsehoods in your paper. Jack Abramoff never gave one red cent to Democrats or to the Democratic Party.

To pretend, to insinuate, to print anything contrary to that true fact is to fabricate, to prevaricate, and to do steno-spin for the Bush Administration and the Republican Party.

Howie Kurtz, Jim Brady, and now Jim VandeHei are doing cover-up for Deborah Howell’s partisan and demonstrably false words printed in your paper. Ms. Howell’s and the Post’s defensiveness and hubristic arrogance in this matter are astounding.

I suppose this shouldn’t be surprising since the Washington Post has been a cheerleader for Bush’s War on Iraq since it was begun — on demonstrably faulty and “twisted” intelligence and deliberate and false insinuations that Saddam was somehow connected to 9/11.

This “Howell-Abramoff” matter is a much smaller arena for fertilizing and fomenting false information, but it is indicative of the Post’s attitude (since the halcyon days of Katharine Graham and Watergate) about telling the whole truth and nothing but the truth in your paper.

Bristling defensively, rationalizing away the blatant falsehoods propagated by Ms. Howell, and then shutting down a website because a few people have uncivilly cursed her is a rather jejune response to criticism, don’t you think? Besides, most of the criticism seems to me to be valid, even if some of it was “inartfully worded” — as Howie Kurtz described Ms. Howell’s reporting.

And after all, you people are supposed to be the “grown-ups” here, the “adults” with access to the arcane knowledge of the world inside the Beltway, aren’t you? Now, because someone in the stands calls a member of your team bad names, you’re going to pick up your ball and go home to Mommy?

Sorry, but to me it sounds like a storyline out of Peanuts, not the Washington Post.

David Wyles
Playa Del Rey, CA

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The Curse of Johnny U

Ed’s Note: Joe Strupp’s story about the Indianapolis Star scrapping their planned Super Bowl coverage after the sure-fire Colts were defeated in the second round of the NFL playoffs stirred up a number of raw nerves from fans still reeling from the Colts’ move from Baltimore more than 20 years ago. Below is one of the more heartfelt letters we received.

Re: Colts’ Upset Loss Forces ‘Indy Star’ to Shelve Super Bowl Plans

I am compelled to write after last Sunday’s loss by the Colts. I have held my tongue for 22 years. I was ten years old when the Colts left that dreary day in March, 1984 and I have never forgotten. I had the pleasure of at least going to two games with my father at Memorial Stadium before they left. Something I will never get to do with my children. Everyone walks around and pretends the Ravens have healed the wounds, but they haven’t. I think it is ironic that Baltimore has won a Super Bowl in the past 22 years and Indianapolis has not.

I am not writing to gloat. I am writing to express the torn feelings of a 10-year-old boy at heart who wishes he could root for a team with a horseshoe on its helmet. I remember a game similar to last Sunday’s only it was 10 years earlier. I was in Haiti serving our country in the U.S. Army. I remember being disappointed, but happy watching as that last minute hail mary fell incomplete. I also think back on the fist time the Colts came back to town. I was in the stands that day with my older cousin, who is still a fan even though we were abandoned. But, most striking about that game was Johnny U on the sidelines that day and how Baltimore won in the last minutes and Jim Harbaugh gave him the game ball. However, what should have been given to him that day was the Colts name. Its time to do what’s right and let a generation of te10-year-olds at heart have their team back.

Dan Powell
Princess Anne, Md.

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