Wesley K. Clark did a good job of cursing the darkness in Iraq [op-ed, Aug. 26], but the solutions he outlined seem half-baked.

He said that the United States should form a standing council of neighboring states to coordinate diplomatic and economic efforts in Iraq. However, the adjacent states have different agendas regarding Iraq. While the Saudis and Jordanians want things to settle down there, the Iranians and Syrians seem to lap up the chaos.

Mr. Clark said we should forswear permanent military bases. But how can we if we want to protect the region's oil supply? The Persian Gulf is a terrible place to expose carrier forces that might otherwise offer alternative military platforms. Our ships would be sitting ducks for Iranian missiles.

Mr. Clark also said that the United States should facilitate the constitutional process. But the Iraqis recently got seriously angry at the U.S. ambassador for offering a few hints for moving the initiative along. What more could we do without subverting a process that is supposed to be indigenous?

Finally, Mr. Clark said we should get Canada, France and Germany to assist with training Iraqi military and police. Why would they? What leverage could the United States use, other than bribery, which would probably cost more than doing the job itself?

While Mr. Clark may be accurate in his assessment of the strategic folly of the invasion, he did not offer any compelling solution to the conundrum that now faces the United States.


Mission Viejo, Calif.