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FRANCOIS L. QUINSON

Gaithersburg

Suggestions for the White House

Steve Chapman seems to want us out of Iraq (“Unshakeable Optimism,” Commentary, Wednesday), but he fails to say so. He glibly abuses a story from Ronald Reagan to label President Bush as subject to “the hobgoblin of little minds” and even tries to portray him as Hitler-in-the-bunker with the wording of his essay’s title.

With undue respect to Mr. Chapman, war isn’t easy — there has never been a war for our survival which could not have been as glibly criticized. Since he failed to recommend anything (other than “try harder to please me”), here are a couple of my suggestions for the White House:

n Frequently quote the “Mission Accomplished” speech that has been so dishonestly mischaracterized by the media and more overt enemies. A public re-reading on the anniversary would help reinforce how wrong the treasonous critics have been.

n Bring military recruitment into the 21st century by dramatically reforming the reach and scope of inviting the volunteer preservers of freedom. Grant those who serve a fuller share of the honor they merit, and prove to America’s foes that we are serious about winning.

The commitment of ground forces is a moral obligation to victory. They should only be withdrawn under one of two conditions:

n The end of a half century of stable occupation, with no potential enemy (like China or Russia in the cases of Japan and Germany) to be countered in the neighborhood.

n The final signal that a plethora of mushroom clouds is about to render the enemy territory incompatible with our ground forces’ well-being.

We don’t get to just leave. Our retreat from Vietnam resulted in untold deaths, but only willful ignorance can deny that a cut-and-run from Iraq will make that travesty look like a mere oopsie.

DAVID Y. CHIU

Provo, Utah