Secretary of State Colin L. Powell and national security adviser Condoleezza Rice have assured the world that "the United States plans to call the most important shots after [Saddam] Hussein falls" ["U.N. Role in Postwar Government Debated," news story, April 7]. That sounds like Iraq will be our sandbox and the French and Russians won't get to play with our oil.

Meanwhile, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul D. Wolfowitz suggests that the "U.N. has an important role to play, particularly in the functional agencies that the U.N. has run so successfully." I would guess this means that the United Nations debating society gets to run a falafel stand in Baghdad.

Mr. Wolfowitz also described the role of the interim authority as "a bridge" leading to the "creation of a government chosen by the Iraqi people." That probably means the Iraqi people can have any leader they want -- as long as it's Ahmed Chalabi, the handpicked candidate of the neoconservatives in the Pentagon.

Ain't democracy great?

KEVIN B. POWELL

Long Beach, Calif.

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It was inappropriate for presidential candidate Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.) to say, "What we need now is not just a regime change in Saddam Hussein and Iraq, but we need a regime change in the United States," while American troops are fighting a war to free the Iraqi people.

Likewise, it was opportunistic for Republican leaders to come out with scathing responses to Sen. Kerry's statement, which led to a firestorm of vitriolic exchanges between Democrats and Republicans, which led to Sen. Kerry accusing his political enemies of "fake patriotism."

Sen. Kerry needn't wrap himself in war medals, nor should anyone belittle others for not serving in the military to make his point. It's damaging enough that political rhetoric, particularly in presidential politics, has become so shallow and unseemly. If anything needs changing in America, it's the two-party regime of expanding government, along with the money and personal power that make it grow.

We need more democracy and less demagoguery.

DANIEL B. JEFFS

Apple Valley, Calif.

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The State Department, the CIA, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, the major humanitarian relief organizations, France, Germany and most of the rest of the world disagree with the plan that Condoleezza Rice and others advocate regarding mostly U.S. control of a postwar Iraq. They'd like to see the reconstruction of Iraq as a collaborative, international effort led by the United Nations.

Indeed, the first reaction in the Middle East to a plan that would import to Iraq former U.S. military officers and Iraqis who have links to Israel is understandably negative. With the United Nations leading the reconstruction, a legitimate chance exists for peace and stability in the Middle East. If there is a downside for the United States not having complete control, it is minor compared with the long-term benefits.

Who knows? Maybe the rest of the world might help pay some of the expenses involved in cleaning up this mess.

KEVIN R. VRIEZE

Silver Spring