Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 13, 2006

Death toll shows war was mistake

Theo Lippman Jr. finds the estimate by researchers from the Johns Hopkins University's Bloomberg School of Public Health that 400,000 to 800,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed because of the war to be in the ballpark ("Learning about civilian casualties - and how we can reduce their number," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 5).

Whatever the actual numbers of Iraqi dead may be, this estimate serves as a reminder of the macabre cost-benefit analysis concerning the war.

It would certainly appear that more Iraqi civilians - as well as Americans and other coalition nationals - have died because of the war than would have died in the last four years if there had been no war and Saddam Hussein had remained in power.

This analysis calls into question the judgment that the war was justified because it got rid of Mr. Hussein and whether changing the regime was really worth all of the chaos and killing it has caused.

Surely, the death sentence for Mr. Hussein is justified. But the war was never the only way to deal with one of the many dictators on the world stage.

Arguing that the war was unnecessary is not just a matter of playing "gotcha" politics with the Bush administration.

There are lessons to be learned from the American history of the past few years. If this nation is to be made whole again, that history must be uncompromisingly honest.

Martin Berdit

Columbia

Diplomacy is way to cut casualties

Theo Lippman Jr. expresses concern about noncombatant casualties in war and suggests the ethics courses being taken by future military commanders hold promise for reducing civilian casualties ("Learning about civilian casualties - and how we can reduce their number," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 5).

I disagree. All studies show that the proportion of civilian to military casualties in 20th-century wars climbed steadily.

Instead, why not settle conflicts through dialogue and diplomacy?

That is the surefire way of significantly reducing civilian casualties.

Thanks to Frederick N. Rasmussen, I read the story of Medal of Honor winner Paul J. Wiedorfer, who suffered greatly during World War II and spent three years in hospitals recovering from his wounds ("Whatever happened to ... ? Paul J. Wiedorfer," Nov. 4).

This veteran did not think too much of the efficacy of war. As he said: "'Wouldn't it be wonderful if the Medal of Honor didn't exist because there were no wars and we could all live in peace? And that the only way to spell war was love? Wouldn't that be wonderful?"

It made my day to see such wisdom in print.

Max Obuszewski

Baltimore

Hope triumphs over fear of attack

This election brought a number of remarkable "firsts" ("Democrats win House, post gains in Senate," Nov. 8).

The House of Representatives will be led by the first female speaker (Rep. Nancy Pelosi); the Senate will induct its first Socialist member (Vermont's Bernard Sanders); for the first time, the majority of Americans voted on electronic machines; and here in Maryland, a "third-party" candidate for a statewide race was able to participate in (most of) the debates (Green Party Senate candidate Kevin Zeese).

But of all the "firsts," perhaps the best is that for the first time since the 9/11 attacks, a majority of the national electorate cast its votes out of hope and not fear.

Dave Goldsmith

Woodstock

The writer is Baltimore County Green Party coordinator.

Democrats deemed a threat to wallets

Quick: Hold on tight to your wallets - here come Democrats ("A rough road lies ahead for Bush," Nov. 8).

Lisa Cohen

Sykesville

Videotape criminals instead of the police

In a city plagued by violent crime and a stubborn murder rate, it is outrageous that a city employee, Freddie Curry, is cooperating with a group of men who apparently would rather videotape Baltimore police officers - on the chance that they may commit wrongdoing - than the drug dealers and thugs who are the ones committing robberies, shootings and murders on a daily basis ("Policing police on city streets," Nov. 2).

While no reasonable person condones the wrongful acts of any police officer, the number of these acts is minuscule compared with the barrage of crime occurring throughout our community by those thugs whom, I am sure, Mr. Curry could put on videotape.

But apparently Mr. Curry would rather collect a city salary and ignore the more imminent and dangerous crimes that affect each and every one of the citizen-taxpayers who pay to put food on his table and a roof over his head.

Robert F. Cherry Jr.

Baltimore

The writer is vice president of the Fraternal Order of Police Baltimore City Lodge No. 3.

Finding alternatives to failing fish stocks

A four-year study by an international group of ecologists and economists published in the journal Science warns that the world's fisheries will collapse by 2048 if declines in marine species continue at current rates ("World supply of fish in peril," Nov. 3).

The declines are primarily the result of overfishing and the pollution of coastal areas.

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