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The mess left in Iraq

EDITOR: Few topics get my blood boiling like the mess that has plagued Iraq over the past 15 years (“Few opening wallets to rebuild Iraq post-IS,” Saturday). Few people can argue with a straight face about the urgency, legitimacy or wisdom of attacking Iraq in 2003. Besides the false claims of an imminent threat to our country, or hints about retaliation for 9/11, the shock-and-awe costs of our military were to be paid for by Iraq’s vast oil riches.

But what has become lost in the wake of such an avoidable and atrocious miscarriage of American political and military arrogance is the fact of a broken nation left reeling (two really, including us). How can America act as if it didn’t break Iraq, as if we’re not responsible for rebuilding it? It was criminal to have attacked Iraq in the first place, but to not accept responsibility for the death, destruction and damage that followed is simply unconscionable.

The last sentence of the article says it all, describing the $60 billion the U.S. has pumped into Iraq’s reconstruction over the past nine years. Are we supposed to be impressed? Just three months ago, the U.S. Senate passed an annual $700 billion military spending bill — which gave $37 billion more than President Donald Trump even asked for. For shame.

MATT SARCONI

Calistoga

Keeping public lands

EDITOR: Your Dec. 22 editorial (“These monumental changes not wanted”) said, correctly, that the government isn’t selling monument lands despite some conservationist claims.

However, the monument dustup does expose a mindset that the feds have too much land and oversight in the West. Cliven Bundy is an extreme example of that thinking (“Prosecutors bungle another Bundy case,” Editorial, Saturday).

Consider this from the Republican Party platform, “We call upon all national and state leaders and representatives to exert their utmost power and influence to urge the transfer of those lands, identified in the review process, to all willing states for the benefit of the states and the nation as a whole.”

A year ago, the House changed its rules to prohibit consideration of budget impact (i.e., loss of royalties and fees) in debates on land transfers. On the heels of that, then-Rep. Jason Chaffetz R-Utah, introduced a bill to “dispose” or sell off 3 million acres of federal land (he later withdrew it in the face of massive opposition). The Sagebrush Rebellion of the 1980s never went away.

Once in state hands, lands could be sold to raise revenue. Witness Texas, allowed at statehood to retain its public domain. Within 50 years, about 90 percent of it was in private hands.

CHARLIE JUDSON

Sebastopol

Separate parties

EDITOR: Along with friends, I went to the New Year’s Eve celebration at Old Courthouse Square. The photo props with Happy New Year frames for taking your own free photos was a nice touch. Yet with the stated goal of “bringing people together,” was it the best idea to have the big ivory tower, er, the clear plastic heated tent, there on the square for the $125-a-plate diners?

MARTI SWAB

Santa Rosa

Homeless campsites

EDITOR: Instead of trying to find a way to build permanent buildings for a transient homeless population, why not “build” a permanent affordable campground residence arrangement? It could include pavilion-type roofs with solar collectors to provide each campsite with some power, a residents-only entrance with security and bathroom facilities.

So many people are camping out off and on, and they keep getting camping supplies that end up in the garbage.

In Sebastopol, one of the last trailer/campground sites soon to be taken over for some building.

People receiving the $990 monthly disability check or other income could chip in a percentage. Those with no income could get a voucher or, if capable, do some minor maintenance in exchange for a campsite.

There could be another camp — or one integrated with tents — for those who are living in vehicles.

Trying to make insurable, approved up-to-code habitats for even one family — ask those trying to rebuild in Coffey Park or Fountaingrove — is big money.

Think about it. Keep pushing campers down the road and cleaning up their trash and belongings, or have a campground for legitimate occupancy.

WEEDY TUHTANJOSEPH

Sebastopol

Stony Point project

EDITOR: On Monday, you published a letter from Doug Gibson concerning the construction on Stony Point Road south of Sebastopol Road to Hearn Avenue (“Unending road project”). His suggestion that you inquire about the project is an excellent one. Just who is responsible for the delays?

I have never seen a project go on for so long in my 60 years in Santa Rosa. Who is paying for it? Who is the contractor?

I am sure I am not the only one concerned about this project.

DELLA McKAMEY

Santa Rosa

A refreshing start

EDITOR: How gratifying it was to open the Let the Public Speak page on New Year’s Day and not find one single letter condemning Donald Trump with the usual unfounded diatribes of name-calling and false innuendos.

I suppose Democrats must have been working off the previous night’s celebrations with a hit of legal marijuana and forgot to send their standard sour-grapes letters. I’m sure they will remember by midweek once they get over the taxes incurred by smoking legal weed.

MICHAEL GEORGE

Santa Rosa

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