Backtalk

Withdrawal Symptoms
What a refreshing and necessary series of articles about the complex realities of a U.S. pullout from the war in Iraq. As Monika Bauerlein and Clara Jeffery point out, the nation needs to stop being consumed with who and what got us into Iraq. Although anger over the disastrous outcome of the war is understandable, we cannot go back in time and change anything about the decision to invade. The central point of a national conversation about how to pull out of Iraq should be about reaching a negotiated political settlement, and our European allies should be given a big role in facilitating a solution. Since the Bush administration may not advocate such an approach, Congress should attach it as a condition for approving all future war-spending bills.
barry dwork
Silver Spring, Maryland

I believe one how-do-we-leave scenario was left out. Withdraw troops in six months, which many of your military interviewees said was very possible, and promise that for the next two years, the United States will give to Iraq for reconstruction half of the money we're annually spending on destruction. By my reckoning that would come to some $75 billion a year, $150 billion in total. This is right ethically but also strategically. It would make the transition infinitely easier for the Iraqis and would reclaim, at least in part, our good name.
david morris
Minneapolis, Minnesota

I never fail to be surprised by the arrogance and conceit of my fellow Americans—even progressives. The idea that we cannot simply leave Iraq, that we are somehow needed there to "fix" what we have broken, is laughable. It's a latter-day incarnation of the white man's burden. It's sort of like asking the Nazis to stay on in Poland to make amends. Whatever moral, political, or ideological credibility we possessed before the bombs started dropping has been shattered and is irretrievably lost. We could fill up an encyclopedia with accounts of the crimes we have committed against these people. Truly, we have done enough. It's time to come home. It's time to atone and to pledge never to do this again.
mike stamper
Windsor, Connecticut

Peace Action's Kevin Martin put it very well: "You are trying to hold us to a higher standard of accountability than anyone is holding the Bush administration to." How do the General Zinnis of the world have the gall to wag their fingers at us and tell us that we the public are responsible for the Iraq War—no matter how often and strongly we may have voiced our opposition to it? How are we the public now supposed to solve a problem we didn't create? Hold neighborhood caucuses to try to cobble together strategies our elected leaders seem unable or unwilling to make? How many letters to our congresspersons, the president, the vice president, et al. are we supposed to have to write in order for someone who got us into this mess to come up with a solid solution? Only if we can find out why we are really in Iraq will we have any basis for deciding how to get ourselves out. Anything else is just political histrionics.
kerry canfield
Portland, Oregon

Baby Business Boom
Elizabeth Larsen's "Did I Steal My Daughter?" does an excellent job of discussing many of the difficult issues involved with U.S. adoptions in Guatemala. We hope to see important changes in the near future in the procedures for United States-Guatemalan adoptions, which we hope will address some of the problems that Ms. Larsen identified.
jim derham
U.S. ambassador to Guatemala
Guatemala City, Guatemala

Larsen bravely and poignantly illustrates historian Rickie Solinger's point that "there is no such thing as adoption except off the backs of resourceless women." Many researchers have found that adoption records are sealed to protect those who make their living brokering babies, more so than out of concern for the privacy of the parties to the adoption. The practice of secrecy continues to shield less-than-ethical adoption practitioners, domestically as well as globally.
mirah riben
Monmouth Junction, New Jersey

Cross the Line
I am disappointed with the overly cautious tone Mother Jones adopts when addressing immigration issues. In your January/February 2007 issue you depicted Lou Dobbs in almost sympathetic colors, and in November/December's "Southern Inhospitality," by Bruce Falconer, the same happens with the campaign being orchestrated against undocumented workers in Prince William County, Virginia. Is Mother Jones so concerned about readership that it fears to take a stronger stand for what is compassionate and right?
gonzalo díaz
Atlanta, Georgia