To the Editor:
I am a longtime admirer of Thomas L. Friedman. I disagree, however, with his advice to Senator John Kerry relative to our Army in Iraq, which is summarized in his final line: "We will not run" (column, Feb. 15).
This determination to stand and fight is tempting to political leaders. The trouble with this appeal is that brave young Americans do the bleeding and dying--not the political leaders who committed them to a mistaken war. Terrorists are killing American soldiers in Iraq because our Army is in Iraq. I hope that President Bush, with the help of the United Nations, will find a way to return Iraq to the Iraqis and bring our Army home.
Paradoxically, on the same page as Mr. Friedman's column is a column by Maureen Dowd detailing how Ahmad Chalabi, the convicted criminal Iraqi exile, snowed the neoconservatives in the Bush administration into believing that the American Army could walk into Iraq unopposed and that he would be an ideal replacement for Saddam Hussein.
Replacing Saddam Hussein with Ahmad Chalabi would be comparable to replacing Jack the Ripper with Al Capone. Such a development is not worth risking the death of one additional American.
Thousands of young Americans bled and died in Vietnam to keep a series of political frauds in power in Saigon. Let's not go down that road again, claiming all the while, "We will not run." How about a compromise? Let's walk out of Iraq.
Marco Island, Fla., Feb. 16, 2004
The writer was the Democratic candidate for president in 1972.