Mr. Obama has it right on Afghanistan

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Sunday, October 3, 2010

The Sept. 29 editorial "The war over the war" had it wrong. President Obama is right in wanting to end this war, with its cost of (only!) a bit less than 1 percent of gross domestic product, end the loss of lives of U.S. and allied soldiers and Afghan civilians, and end the parade of returning soldiers devastated by physical and mental wounds.

After nearly a decade, have we killed Osama bin Laden or eliminated al-Qaeda? No. Those were our objectives. When did our objective become to defeat the Taliban instead of al-Qaeda? Disagreeing with generals who want to wage war against the Taliban for another five or 10 years is in no way "damning" to Mr. Obama.

Richard Morris, Hyattsville

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I read the "Obama's Wars" series [front page, Sept. 27-29] based on Bob Woodward's book while holding the Aug. 9 edition of Time magazine. Staring out at me -- and perhaps at our generals -- from the cover was a photo of an 18-year-old girl without a nose or ears. The Taliban mutilated the girl last year for fleeing from her abusive in-laws.

Please don't let this series be all about politics inside the White House or among American voters. Although I'd love to believe that every culture has the right to its laws and customs, I cannot look at that photo without seeing that there truly is evil in this world.

I do not want my son to have to return to Afghanistan; nor do I want my grandchildren to go. But I wonder whether Abraham Lincoln worried about polls and politics as he confronted the evil of slavery. In this war, as in all wars, there is no easy answer. But there has to be some awareness of right and wrong.

Randy Salzman, Charlottesville

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Unless Bob Woodward's "Obama's Wars" is a work of fiction, many of the conversations he recounts must have been related by an individual, or individuals, at the pinnacle of government. It's one thing for leaders to reveal serious deliberations of this sort years, or decades, after the fact, but to reveal them while events are still in a state of dire instability seems irresponsible at best and dangerously immature at worst. How can a conscientious public servant trust anyone in a milieu where confidences are revealed when they've barely left one's mouth? What's next: the daily posting of top-secret deliberations on social networks?

Thomas M. Doran, Plymouth, Mich.


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