Iraq win a ‘time bomb’

Is our success in Iraq headed for a sudden meltdown?

Gen. Petraeus notwithstanding, American military officials in Iraq acknowledge that last year’s reduction in violence started before — and was not principally due to — the “surge” of 30,000 additional American troops in 2007.

The reduction in violence started in 2006 with what is known as “The Awakening” in the Sunni western part of Iraq. The Awakening reduced violence in two ways. First, Sunnis “ethnically cleansed” the remaining Shia out of Sunni enclaves, leaving few left to kill. Second, local Sunnis turned against the mostly-foreign radical Sunni fundamentalists known as “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” who had made life so intolerable that local people rose up against them.

American military authorities took advantage of this development by paying Sunnis not only to fight al-Qaeda, but also to not fight Americans.

The “Sons of Iraq” jobs program grew to where the U.S. is now paying over 100,000 Sunnis up to $300 a month, $303 million this year alone.

This protection racket is now threatening to unravel. We promised Sunnis that the mostly-Shiite Baghdad government would hire them into the Iraqi army and police. However, not only is the government refusing to hire the most of the Sons of Iraq, but it has also issued warrants for the arrest of 650 of its leaders and is considering demanding the rest turn in their weapons by November. The Sunnis say this is unacceptable.

Our much-vaunted “success” is sitting on a ticking time bomb.

Dick Atlee

Southwest Harbor

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Maine needs Collins

The strategy emanating from the Democratic National Convention against Republicans is to tie every Republican candidate to President Bush. They are using voting records as a means of affirming that a candidate voted with Republicans, therefore, Bush. What they don’t tell you is that they count votes to adjourn, go on vacation, give an award or declare “National Peanut Butter Day.” If these were all used against candidates, Rep. Tom Allen would be in big trouble since he voted with his party 99 percent of the time.

Maybe he didn’t like the Peanut Butter Day concept.

I have never met Sen. Susan Collins, but I have read a lot about her. She has an admirable record of crossing the aisle to work with Democratic colleagues in solving problems. She recently collaborated with Democrat Mary Landrieu of Louisiana to write legislation to help make health care affordable for all Americans. This legislation would never have passed without Democratic support and her hard work.

Sen. Collins also works closely with Sen. Joe Lieberman, the independent of Connecticut, as ranking member on the Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee. She and Lieberman are both moderate, independent-thinking senators who work hard to make progress on very difficult issues against great pressure by powerful people. We need people like Sen. Collins to continue to represent Maine in the spirit other great Maine politicians that have gone before.

Please don’t let the Obama buzz distract you from making that checkmark by Sen. Collins’ name. Maine needs her.

Terry Hamm-Morris

Mars Hill

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Democrat for McCain

John McCain was wise to choose Alaskan Gov. Sarah Palin to hitch his wagon to.

Too bad Obama wasn’t as wise. If he had been, he would have chosen Hillary as his V.P. That would have assured him of his win in November.

But as the old saying goes, you can’t put a young head on an old one. McCain gets my vote hands down. I am a registered Democrat.

Frank D. Slason


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Godly issues

According to Tom Coleman (“Obama and abortion,” BDN, Aug. 27), “Christians, both Catholics and Protestants, other religions and people of good will cannot in good faith vote for Obama. He is on the wrong side on most key issues.”

Nonsense. Coleman pleads the pro-life argument, focusing only on abortion, which, to be sure, the Catholic Church and some other Christian believers oppose.

But both the Christian faith and the teaching of the Catholic Church regarding the dignity of human life and the informed political conscience are a whole lot broader and more humane than Coleman’s letter would suggest.

Meeting in November 2007, the American Conference of Catholic Bishops produced a statement titled “Faithful Citizenship: A Call to Political Responsibility.” The bishops begin with a disclaimer: Their purpose is not to tell citizens how to vote but to help Catholics inform their conscience. The statement advises against abortion and other serious threats to human life and dignity. Racism and other unjust discrimination, torture, the death penalty, resorting to unjust war, war crimes, the failure to respond to those who suffer from hunger or lack health care, or unjust immigration policies are all serious moral issues that challenge the conscience and require us to act.”

Americans who are Christians might ask themselves before they vote which candidate stands most clearly for human rights and human dignity for everybody on the planet and for the planet itself, on which human life depends.

God may just be a lot wiser than some narrow-minded, single-issue Christians seem to believe.

Charlotte Herbold


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Collins on Constitutione

I’ve just finished reading an article in the BDN’s Aug. 30-31 issue and I’m curious as to how many other parts of the U.S. Constitution our Sen. Collins doesn’t fully understand.

She is quoted on the choice of Sarah Palin as a vice presidential nominee: “Palin’s lack of experience is not a concern … the position with which experience matters the most is president, not vice president.”

Wow! That’s amazing. I thought a senator worth his or her weight in office would have to understand the Constitution, specifically the 25th Amendent as it relates to the power that goes from the president to the vice president when the president is sick, has died or is in some way unable to carry out the duties and the obligations of the presidency.

Perhaps Ms. Collins could use a little “American Government 101” refresher course.

Edie Moore