Wow! Judging from the responses to Mary Anna Towler's December 7 editorial in support of pulling our forces out of Iraq, you'd think the idea was paramount to treason (The Mail, December 21).

Lately, everybody seems to be an expert on Iraq. It is not the place for officers in the field to question the motives of the civilian leadership that put them there. They have a job to do, and I believe that the vast majority of them do it well. But retired generals are damn well free to say what they please. A few might have an "ax to grind" but I'm sure they know a little something more about the reality of Iraq than armchair generals.

As far as some of the "facts" citied in Al-Ubaidi's letter week, a few seem to defy common sense on face value --- particularly "98 percent of the population hates the Baathists." If that's the case, why the hell couldn't they take down Saddam themselves? Let's face it , the animosity between the Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds may not go away as quickly as we'd like it. And as if other Muslim democracies like Turkey and Indonesia were free of such problems. Go ask an Armenian, a Turkish Kurd, or someone from East Timor.

And didn't Iran just elect a president who's an avowed racist?

Why does such position as bringing our soldiers home make one a defeatist? Haven't we already achieved "victory" by toppling and capturing Saddam? Wasn't "mission accomplished" two years ago?

The truth is, the Bush administration will continue to exploit our armed forces as long as Congress lets it (regardless of whether they are needed here, like the National Guard was needed after Katrina). They'll just keep changing the definition of "victory" and keep blaming us liberals for "bringing down morale" --- like our soldiers' give one shit about all this geo-political postulating of how bad the Iraqis want democracy.

If Bush were honest, he'd just come out and say that the US military presence will be permanent so we can be the primary recipients of Iraq's oil. If that is worth the price of more American lives, then there is more than enough shame to go around.

Don Blair, Rochester


Thank you for your informative "Manga Invasion" cover story (December 28). It's refreshing to see coverage of manga and anime that speaks to fans as well as those who might be wondering what all the fuss is about.

I would like to point out another angle to manga's popularity: many fans also love to draw (and write) their own manga. As the instructor of the "Manga and More" class for teens at the MemorialArtGallery's Creative Workshop, I have the pleasure of sharing in young artists' enthusiasm for Japanese comic art. Despite being a lifelong comics fan, I also was drawn to manga as I noted young students' eager emulation of the various styles of the genre.

Clearly, manga both entertains and inspires creative fans of all ages.

Warren Mianecke, University AvenueRochester


Yes, indeed, the waterfront at Charlotte needs some work ("The Art of the Possible," December 28). An "observation deck" is a great idea and could be similar to the MillenniumTower along the Lake Erie shore in Erie, Pennsylvania, or the Panasonic and Minolta towers in Niagara Falls, Ontario. Such a tower could offer breathtaking views of LakeOntario, IrondequoitBay, downtown, the Upper and LowerFalls, and BraddockBay.

As for Lake Avenue being that area's "only real land artery" to downtown and the port area being quite "a haul" from downtown: this is why we need the light rail lines planned by both the Rochester Rail Transit Committee and the Rochester Trolley and Rail Corporation. These would include lines between downtown and Charlotte and Summerville-Pattonwood, as well as a line between those lakefront areas and Seabreeze, using a restored Hojack swing bridge.

Passengers on the line between the lakefront and downtown could stop at the Lyell Avenue area near PaeTecPark, where exciting things are happening thanks to Mitch Rowe and other developers. The rail lines could also revive and make exciting changes to HighFalls, the Broad Street corridor, and MidtownPlaza, especially if there are tourists traveling to and from the ferry.

I hope that the ferry will succeed. If not, perhaps there will be passenger ships using the terminal to travel between our port and various Canadian cities and to Youngstown, NiagaraCounty, and Oswego. Failing that, if the terminal shuts down, the building could become a Coast Guard or Merchant Marine museum, with their ships moored in the river, or it could become a theater.

Kevin F. Yost, Middle Road, Henrietta


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