I agree with the officers quoted in the May 9 front-page story "Dissension Grows in Senior Ranks on War Strategy." Our soldiers have a mission impossible in trying to transform lraq into a democracy without regard to its history of fierce resistance to British colonial tutelage, its lack of democratic tradition, its cultural differences, the Kurd-Arab ethnic division and the Shiite-Sunni religious fracture.

The French army was assigned a similar mission during the 1954-62 Algerian war. Algeria's Arabs and Berbers were forced to adopt French culture and democracy and to be inte- grated into European France. Premier Pierre Mendes-France declared Algeria to be part of the French Republic. "Never will any government yield on this fundamental principle," he said.

The war killed as many as 400,000 Algerians and 20,000 French soldiers. After Charles de Gaulle returned to power in 1958, he negotiated France's exit from Algeria in 1962, eight years after the war began.

I hope it won't take the United States eight years to extricate itself from Iraq. It should drop its unrealistic Wilsonian goals, restore Iraq to full sovereignty on June 30 and repatriate U.S., British and other foreign military forces as quickly as possible. U.S. contractors should be invited to renegotiate their contracts with the new government.

JUSTIN WILLIAMS JR.

Arlington