Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

May 05, 2007

Enough of excuses for failure in Iraq

In The Sun's article "Rice warns Congress on Iraq" (April 30), Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice vowed that President Bush would "not sign any war spending bill that penalizes Iraq's government for failing to make progress."

An article next to that one, "Violence, corruption stall reconstruction" (April 30), reports that "corruption among Iraqi officials also appeared to be worsening" and that "Iraq's annual financial loss now exceeds $5 billion because of fraud and abuse," which a recent report from the special inspector general for Iraq reconstruction found "afflicts virtually every Iraqi ministry."

So we write a blank check, give it to the Iraqis, sacrifice more than 3,300 of our troops and ask for nothing in return?

Just imagine what that $5 billion would do for the people of New Orleans who are still reeling from Hurricane Katrina and the ineptitude of the Bush administration's response.

After four years of bloodshed and an April in which we again saw more than 100 Americans killed in Iraq, we can expect, as The Sun summarizes the recent remarks of Gen. David Petraeus, the U.S. military commander in Iraq, "that the war effort may well get harder before it gets easier."

That statement might have been acceptable three years ago. But the patience of the American public has come to the breaking point.

Enough is enough.

It is time for Americans to stand up and demand that our soldiers be brought home from a bloody civil war in Iraq we should never have been a part of in the first place.

Eric Crossley

Laurel

Empires brutalize occupiers, occupied

The Wind That Shakes the Barley is an award-winning movie centered on the Irish struggle for independence that contains scenes that would bring any Irish-American's blood to boil ("`Wind' whips up strong tale of Irish struggle," April 27).

But one of the many fine points in this great film is that the English soldiers in Ireland are not monsters.

It is just that otherwise good and decent men sent as soldiers to subdue other lands easily become savages, and that otherwise good and decent men and women, in turn, become savages fighting against them.

And this, of course, is just what has happened in Iraq.

Books and articles by American soldiers who have served in Iraq testify that the homes of Iraqis are routinely ransacked by our soldiers with the families terrorized by angry and fearful soldiers shouting obscenities and Iraqi civilians in the streets gunned down or bombed as "collateral damage."

Like the British before us, we are now an empire - and we're reaping all of the "benefits" thereof.

God forgive us.

Jay Hilgartner

Towson

GM now producing high-quality vehicles

Columns such as Kevin Cowherd's "Better cars: What's good for Toyota is good for America" (April 26) serve as a sharp reminder of how crucial perception is in the car business.

However, Mr. Cowherd's column also sells short the major improvements in GM vehicles.

Many people remember the days when Americans viewed Japanese cars in a negative light. Yet, over time, as Japanese cars improved, perceptions changed as well.

We are now seeing a similar turnaround in perceptions of GM vehicles.

General Motors has transformed its business and today produces a lineup of high-quality, well-designed, fuel-efficient cars and trucks -- perhaps the finest in our 100-year history.

These improvements are being recognized by auto critics, analysts and customers everywhere.

Our global competition with Toyota and other companies has only sharpened our resolve to be leaders in design and technology.

I understand that perceptions can be difficult to overcome, and that columnists have wide latitude to share their personal experiences.

But I don't think that Mr. Cowherd's suggestion that nothing has changed at GM is fair to the company, its employees or its dealers.

Steve Harris

Detroit

The writer is a vice president of General Motors.

Honda has aged much more reliably

We read with interest Kevin Cowherd's column which noted that Toyota has taken away the crown from General Motors as the world's No. 1 automobile manufacturer ("Better cars: What's good for Toyota is good for America," April 26).

We own a 1993 General Motors Saturn SL2 and a 1996 Honda Civic.

The Saturn's alternator has been replaced twice. We have had to replace the valve cover gaskets and spark plug seals to correct an engine oil leak and the valve body cover to correct a transmission fluid leak.

We have had to replace the temperature-monitoring unit because the engine overheated. A leaky roof had to be repaired, and the doughnut spare tire dry-rotted and had to be replaced. The rear-view mirror became foggy and had to be replaced, and the dome light stopped lighting and had to be replaced.

The glove-box latch broke and had to be replaced. The air-bag warning light occasionally lights up, but nothing has been found defective there.

Lest you think that we are driving the car night and day into the ground, after 14 years it has only 66,000 miles on the odometer.

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