Perhaps the best measure of the Bush administration's success in dealing with the Persian Gulf crisis is the length to which Outlook had to go to find someone to criticize it {Sept. 9}. Edward Luttwak, "holder of the Burke Chair in Strategy of the Center for Strategic and International Studies," is prized by the impresarios of "let's-you-and-him-fight" journalism for his ability to take an adversarial position on any subject. In this appearance in the ring, though, he just shadowboxed with his own cartoon cutout of the administration -- and the cutout won.

In Luttwak's view, "it is much more important to end the crisis quickly than to manage it skillfully day by day for uncounted days ahead." This caps his specious argument that the president is singlehandedly managing the global response to the Gulf crisis. To advance his quick-fix solution, Luttwak argued that all of Bush's attention should be reserved for "the hard task of economic rehabilitation." His solution? "Substantially disarm" the Iraqis by destroying "fixed facilities" with airpower, then pull out our ground forces while "an assistant secretary or two" manages the aftermath. Luttwak seems to think you can dispose of a nest of killer bees by poking it with a sharp stick.

It would take as much space as Luttwak occupied to rebut all the flimsy reasoning, captious commentary and self-contradiction in his carping analysis. -- Richard D. Kovar