Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

December 10, 2006

Past time to change our course in Iraq

The time is long past for a change in tactics in Iraq - to extricate our country from the current military quagmire and implement a diplomatic solution ("Time running out in Iraq, panel says," Dec. 7).

The Iraq Study Group's recommendations that we pursue broad, regional diplomacy - including talks with Iran and Syria - are a necessary step toward bringing our troops home from Iraq.

The ball is in President Bush's court now - only the president can engage in diplomacy and Mr. Bush needs to get it started, and soon. If he fails to act, it will be harder to bring our troops home and the loss of life will get worse.

The United States has always engaged in diplomacy - we talked with the Soviet Union during the Cold War. We talk with China.

James A. Baker III, the Republican co-chair of the Iraq Study Group, got it right when he said, "You talk with your enemies."

If President Bush doesn't act, the new Congress should hold his feet to the fire.

Democrats were elected with a mandate to figure out how to bring our troops home.

Diplomacy is an essential part of making that happen.

Michael E. Wallman

Ellicott City

Tepid medicine for woes of Iraq

On Thursday, the 65th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, I found it particularly heartbreaking to read the sanitized, homogenized and perhaps intentionally befuddled language of the Iraq Study Group's report and see the carefully couched follow-up interviews and testimony of the panelists ("Time running out in Iraq, panel says," Dec. 7).

Could one imagine President Franklin Roosevelt making his famous address after the Pearl Harbor attack and saying, "Today, we urge caution and we are not certain what action we recommend."

It is also sad to see a public servant of former Secretary of State James A. Baker III's gravitas reduced to someone some historians may judge as a lapdog in the service of former President George H.W. Bush's efforts to salvage the reputation of his son, President Bush.

Stan Heuisler

Baltimore

Bolton deserved Senate's blessing

The Senate's failure to confirm John Bolton as U.S. Ambassador to the United States is a disgrace ("Bolton leaving post as U.N. ambassador," Dec. 5).

Mr. Bolton has shown that he is a very capable diplomat and that the charges that his brusque style would prevent him from being an effective U.N. ambassador are erroneous.

His tenure at the United Nations has proven that he is a man of tremendous ability. He deserved to be confirmed by the Senate, not forced to resign.

Incoming Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Joseph Biden has indicated his opposition to Mr. Bolton time and time again.

But just look at Mr. Bolton's accomplishments in his short time in this post.

He has assembled coalitions to address North Korea's nuclear activity, Iran's uranium enrichment and reprocessing work and the horrific violence and killing going on in Darfur, Sudan, to name just a few of his successes.

Mr. Bolton has been a prime mover in trying to bring about reform at the totally corrupt administration of Secretary-General Kofi Annan at the United Nations.

Mr. Bolton has served America with distinction.

Would that politicians such as Mr. Biden would do likewise.

Joseph F. Maxwell

Malvern, Pa.

War on drugs turns children into pawns

I was truly outraged by The Sun's article "`Pawns' in the drug game" (Dec. 3).

I was under the impression that we wage a war on drugs in this country so that these illicit substances stay out of the hands of children. Imagine my surprise to read about 9-year olds being charged with intent to distribute cocaine.

What is going on here? Are these our tax dollars at work?

When will people realize that as long as these drugs are unregulated they will continue to be bought and sold by anyone at any age?

Selling drugs certainly pays better than a paper route.

Joe Province

Pittsburgh, Pa.

Stabbing reminds us of school crisis

The recent stabbing at Southwestern High School is only a symptom of a much greater problem in Baltimore's schools ("Fourth teen arrested in Southwestern High stabbing," Dec. 1).

The city schools have been neglected by the Maryland State Department of Education, North Avenue, the mayor's office and his City Council for too many years.

As years of rumors about the possible closing of Southwestern High have turned into real plans (perhaps) for closing the school next year, it is clear that Southwestern has long been abandoned, much like many other schools.

And the state's obsession with raw numbers (attendance, graduation rates, scores, etc.) in evaluating schools has prevented this school, and so many others, from fostering a real learning environment, with rules and consequences.

The students allegedly involved in this tragedy knew their failure to be part of a healthy academic environment would prompt few repercussions in the education system.

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