"We Need to Get Lucky" and "Dancing in the Dark"

Readers respond to Michael Ignatieff on ground troops in Afghanistan and Peter Kurth on writing his biography of Isadora Duncan.

Published November 16, 2001 8:00PM (EST)

Read "We Need to Get Lucky" by Suzy Hansen.

In addressing the difficulties of taking a more aggressive military stance in Afghanistan, Mr. Ignatieff makes some good points, but he also misses the point in a number of instances.

First, let's stop talking about "6,000 civilian casualties" in connection with the WTC and Pentagon attacks. The totals posted by the Red Cross, the AP and the New York Times are much lower than that. Anyone who says that the arithmetic doesn't matter has lost touch with the reality that the difference is 3,000 people who didn't die horrible deaths.

Second, I am among those who do not understand what our front-line troops are doing over there if we don't intend to use them. If we were to use gunships and infantry detachments to attack forward Taliban positions, we'd signal not only our seriousness in pursuing our enemies but our willingness to risk American lives to save Afghan civilians. If two or three battalions of Marines were part of the force occupying Kabul, the risk of atrocities and reprisals by the anti-Taliban troops would be vastly reduced. Furthermore, I wonder how strongly our Muslim allies would object to the presence of U.S. troops if it brings victory.

For it to be successful, the conduct of any war cannot long remain hostage to domestic political concerns. Mr. Bush and our other leaders would do well to consider larger costs of not fighting a war the way it must be fought. Sooner or later, Americans will have to give their lives for us to achieve the announced goals of the current campaign.

-- Anthony B. Gerard

It is extraordinary how prescient Michael Ignatieff's comments are in light of the events of the past few days. Spoken prior to the Northern Alliance's recent advances, his calm and wise words demonstrate, in retrospect, the value of simple reasonable thought.

-- Rony Zimerman

Read "Dancing in the Dark" by Peter Kurth.

I've been studying Isadora's life ever since the resurgence of interest in her when I was a kid in the 1970s. I'm so happy that there is a new biography of her, though I expect to reread a lot that I've seen about her before. As the century progresses, inevitably we lose the history of people like Mrs. Patrick Campbell whose work at her peak we can only read about. If Isadora hadn't lived as she did who would be talking about her today? She's remembered more for living her impulses and expressing her beliefs than for her lost art. Maybe she didn't come out a "winner" in the end, but who does? She will always mean freedom to me, and she should never be forgotten.

-- Donna Martin

Thank you for hurtling me forward modern-dance style from one paragraph to another. You chopped my impending Salon-yawn in half!

I recall reading in Katharine Graham's biography that her mother had given Isadora Duncan the shawl she was killed in. I always remember that scene in a movie when I was a kid.

Thanks so much for your essay. I'll purchase your book to keep you in cocoa.

-- Molly Norris Curtis

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