A May 23 op-ed piece by Lewis E. Lehrman and William Kristol ["Crush the Insurgents in Iraq"] wrongly employs several historical examples. Both the Roosevelt and Lincoln administrations found themselves engaged in total warfare that ended in unconditional surrender. The opposing forces to be "crushed" were easily identifiable, and also quite formidable.

The goal of U.S. policy is to establish a representative government in Iraq. Wading into Fallujah once more to ferret out the remaining insurgent forces, with the inevitable civilian casualties, threatens to make our efforts in Iraq more difficult with unnecessary loss of life on both sides. Only an Iraqi government can deal with trouble spots such as Fallujah.

In 1794 the recently formed federal government of the United States was confronted with the Whiskey Rebellion in Pennsylvania, a protest against federal taxation. When President Washington announced that he would lead a federal army to put down the revolt, its participants quickly dispersed. Consider the legitimacy that his leadership lent to suppressing the uprising without a shot being fired, vs. an unhistorical scenario in which a French army commander not only was intent on attacking Pennsylvania but also ordered American troops to accompany him under his command. The ultimate outcome in Iraq is in the hands of the Iraqis, not ours.

-- Charles Smith

Alexandria

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Lewis Lehrman and William Kristol base their argument on U.S. Civil War policies articulated by President Lincoln. Their astonishing indifference to the fact that the Lincoln was making policy that affected only his own citizens, not foreign citizens on their own soil, is emblematic of the logical failure of this administration's Iraq policy. "Crushing" foreign citizens in their own countries has historically been seen as an act of war regardless of circumstances. Given the traditionalist bent of both authors, it's more than ironic that their position would have the United States further violate centuries of moral imperative against acts of naked aggression between nation-states.

At the least, Kristol and Lehrman have finally had the guts to say what many of us have thought from the beginning: This war has absolutely nothing to do with the welfare or the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people.

-- Danielle Donovan

La Costa, Calif.