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Letters: Debating wisdom of Iraq War

Gunmen patrol in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers)

Gunmen patrol in Fallujah, 40 miles (65 kilometers) west of Baghdad, Iraq, Thursday, Jan. 9, 2014. Tribal leaders in Fallujah have warned al-Qaida fighters there to leave to avoid a military showdown, and there were signs that residents of Fallujah were trying to restore a sense of normalcy, however precarious.(AP Photo) Credit: AP

In his column about the U.S. war in Iraq, columnist Lane Filler tackles the important topics of how mistaken many people were about that war, and how much unexpected damage has resulted ["The tragedy of Iraq, a decade later," Jan. 8].

Filler reviews the reasons offered by the George W. Bush administration to justify its war of choice, and he points out that those reasons later proved to be unsupportable, and the war was a "disastrous mistake."

Filler continues by urging caution in the future, but he does not raise the question of accountability or reparations, although these follow directly from his discussion. He does offer a constructive strategy for the future: Encourage good behavior with positive incentives, instead of using mindless violence. But is this sufficient?

Robert M. Goldberg, Jericho

Regarding weapons of mass destruction, Saddam Hussein had everyone fooled, including the UN Security Council and 86 countries that supported going into Iraq. Hussein had used chemical weapons in Iraq's war with Iran and in 1988 against his own people, thousands of Iraqi Kurds.

Filler lists numbers of people killed. What about the people saved, which can never be measured?

Hussein harbored terrorists -- Abu Abbas, who plotted the 1985 hijacking of the Italian cruise ship Achille Lauro, was found in a Baghdad suburb in 2003 -- and trained, supported and financed international terrorists, and murdered an estimated 250,000 of his own people with his paramilitary Fedayeen Saddam. Hussein invaded Kuwait, and attacked Saudi Arabia and Israel during the first Gulf War.

The only thing wrong about our military operation in Iraq is that we left. We're still in countries we defeated in World War II. Germany, Japan and Italy all supported the Iraq invasion, continue to host U.S. military bases and are among the world's economic leaders. Our relationship with these countries allows us to better protect our friends, ourselves and our power and influence around the world.

President Barack Obama's quitting Iraq had the effect of destabilizing the Middle East and creating a security vacuum that is now exacerbated by the influence of Iran, Russia and China. I served in Iraq in 2004 and 2005, and I am appalled by Filler's ignorance of the geopolitical significance of that war and his insensitivity to those who served and lost their lives and livelihoods.

Montgomery J. Granger, Port Jefferson Station

Editor's note: The writer is a retired Army major.