Down-and-Dirty Debate

If Iraq is rebuilt according to the model of American democracy, I hope the planners raise the level of debate much higher than that in the diatribe by Harold Meyerson ["Preemptive Peace," op-ed, April 8]. In lieu of a good argument, he resorts to personal attack and defamation. By referring to "Wolfie's private politburo," he not only uses an indecorous nickname but also equates our assistant secretary of defense, Paul D. Wolfowitz, with a communist dictator. But he really crosses the line of civil discourse by comparing the president of the United States, acting as commander in chief in a time of war, with Nathan Bedford Forrest, the founder of the Ku Klux Klan.

-- Thomas B. Huff

POWs on Parade

Laurie F. Siegel [Free for All, April 5] was "astounded" by the apparent double standard of enemy prisoners being photographed while the administration complains about Americans being shown on Arab TV. She asked for an explanation.

The explanation is that the Iraqi government (which was in charge of Iraqi TV at the time) released (or showed) the pictures of American prisoners. On the other hand, the pictures in our papers and on our TVs are owned by the news services, newspapers, etc. Because these are privately owned institutions, they are not bound by the Geneva Conventions.

It is the U.S. government's policy not to show images of prisoners, and as far as I'm aware, it doesn't. It would probably be best if enemy prisoners were not shown in the media. But if our military tried to prevent enemy POWs from being photographed by the private news media, I suspect the military would be accused of censorship and of trying to hide something.

Blame it on the media, not the government.

-- Jim Scheld

Anglo-American Exploits

Your otherwise excellent March 24 editorial "Grievous Losses" is inexact in stating that the North African campaign in World War II began in November 1942.

The North African campaign had two parts. You refer only to the western part. The eastern part began at the Battle of El Alamein on Oct. 23, 1942. Within a week the British 8th Army had defeated the Germans and Italians in what was the first decisive Allied victory on land in World War II. (Stalingrad was soon to follow.) The Anglo-American forces to which you refer (coming from western North Africa) and the British 8th Army (coming from the east) met in Tunis in early May. That was the end of Hitler and Mussolini in North Africa.

-- Edgar D. Romig

Insidey Exercise

In the lead paragraph of the review of "The Guys" [Style, April 4], the film is described as "an Upper West Sidey exercise in narcissism and self-congratulation." I was born on the Upper West Side (of New York City), but I'm guessing that thousands of daily readers of your newspaper have no idea what Stephen Hunter is referring to.

-- David Biderman

Men Behaving Humbly

In his April 6 column, Courtland Milloy [Metro] quotes a minister who, comparing the United States with the Roman Empire, told his congregation: "Now the whole world is having to prostate itself at Rome's feet and beg for favors."

I have difficulty envisaging this event, but I assume that the whole world would not be involved, just the male portion.

-- John Giovanelli

No Tourists for Traitors

I applaud the support that your paper has shown toward Operation Iraqi Freedom. Not only have your editorials provided consistently strong backing for the administration's Iraq policy, but your news reports have provided fair and balanced coverage of the war without resorting to sensationalism.

That's why I was especially troubled, and frankly disappointed, when I opened the April 6 Travel section to find a two-page article encouraging people to travel to France. Given the betrayal the United States has experienced at the hand of France, I do not understand why you would want to encourage travel to that country.

Of all the United States' allies, France has been the most confrontational with respect to our attempts at diplomacy in the United Nations. France has sabotaged compromise after compromise. Is it any wonder that, as the article points out, tourism is down 37 percent in Paris?

-- Bruce Veltre