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LLTTIRS Marriage Editors: Frank Furstenberg's article Can Marriage Be Saved?" (Summer 2005) is unnecessarily pessimistic about marriage and overly optimistic about the ability of society to replace the resources that married parents can provide to children. It is true, as Furstenberg points out, that "parents with limited cultural and material resources" face more challenges in attaining a stable marriage. But it makes no sense to throw up our hands and say that the state and society can do nothing to help those couples, while at the same time arguing that once those couples divorce—or if they never marry at all—then there are all kinds of social resources we can and should marshal in support of them and their children. Sadly, the state will never have the resources or ability to provide the level of security for children that parents in a low-conflict marriage can provide. Instead of arguing about whether our society should support married parents or support all kinds of families, here's a radical idea: Why not do both? We can ensure that our policies help parents to achieve healthy marriages, and we can ensure that our policies support the existing and often pressing needs of children living in all kinds of families. ELIZABETH MARQUARDT New York, N.Y. The author is an affiliate scholar at the Institute for American Values. Editors: Certainly a good society should support all its children. But this does not require abandoning efforts to strengthen marriage, especially at a time when most Americans (including single mothers) still want to make lasting, loving marriages. Maybe we can create a place beyond conservative and liberal, where false dichotomies do not restrict our choices. MAGGIE GALLAGHER, PRESIDENT Institute for Marriage and Public Policy Frank Furstenberg Replies I am delighted to join Elizabeth Marquardt's call for efforts to support children in families headed by married couples, unmarried couples, and single parents. However, she is vague on the kinds of support that she is willing to provide. She writes that the state will never have the capacity to support children at a level equivalent to what they could receive in a low-conflict marriage. On what evidence is that statement based? Is the current administration's policy likely to result in a significantly greater proportion of low-conflict marriages? I think not. The bone of contention with Maggie Gallagher rests on how to strengthen and support stable parent unions. My objections to the administration's policies are that they rely largely on symbolic gestures that are likely to be ineffectual unless they are combined with substantial material help. There is no dichotomy, false or otherwise, if the rhetoric is joined with real aid. Iraq Debacle Editors: James B. Rule's piece on the "Iraq Debacle" (Summer 2005) touches on a number of terrible realities that thinking people cannot afford to ignore, whatever their positions on the war: the daily carnage, the practice and sanctioning of torture by U.S. intelligence and military, the dispossession of civilian populations. I would add the apparent continuing failure to provide the most basic security , a problem that threatens not just Iraq's prospects for democracy but that of its people for even a semi-normal life. Given that the administration often seems incapable or unwilling to acknowledge such realities, Rule is right to emphasize them. But when he turns his attention to the small number of Dissent writers who argued in favor of U.S. military intervention, he generates considerably more heat than light. Grandly dismissing these arguments as having "nothing to do" with the politics of the democratic left," Rule reminds me of the rhetorical habits of Charles Dickens's wealthy man of business, Mr. Podsnap, in Our Mutual Friend, who "swept away" evDISSENT / Fan 2005 n 109 LETTERS erything he suspected with a "rightward flourishing arm. Podsnap 's mantra—it forms part of a system Dickens calls "Podsnappery"—is, "I don't want to know about it; I don't choose to discuss it; I don't admit it!" Rule attacks his targets with zeal, with a broad brush—and little nuance. Paul Berman is accused of taking "a page from the apocalyptic scriptures of...


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