Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Other People's Mail

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Other People's Mail

Article excerpt

Obama's Afghan Decision

To The New York Times, Dec. 8, 2009

To Mr. [Frank] Rich's cogent arguments I add two further considerations not evident in recent administration policy discussions. The first, voiced by numerous Afghanistan experts, is the danger that an American troop escalation will increase the appearance of an American occupation and drive ordinary Afghans into the hands of the Taliban.

The second is the related danger that a rise in the number of Muslims killed in Afghanistan will radicalize ever-larger numbers of formerly nonextremist Muslims in countries around the world.

Robert Wright ("Who Created Major Hasan?" Op-Ed, Nov. 22) gives this argument new focus and urgency, noting that the men who carried out the Fort Hood and Little Rock shootings both referred to the American military's killing of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan, including a large number of innocent civilians. He fears that we may see more such incidences of domestic terror, with no way to protect ourselves.

These dangers should be borne in mind by those who formulate and put into effect our nation's policy.

Donna M. Wulff, Providence, RI

Us and Them in Afghanistan

To the Toronto Globe and Mail, Jan. 1, 2010

David Bercuson speculates that Afghan villagers won't alert North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces to insurgent activities because they fear Taliban reprisals. A more plausible explanation may be that they fear the brutal raids and air strikes that may follow if foreign forces believe Taliban are present in their village. In a related story on the same page, you report two incidents in which innocent young students and other civilians were killed and wounded by the activities of the international forces. Now that is surely enough to scare many Afghans into silence.

Louise Buhler, Saskatoon, Canada

Down on Drones

To the Los Angeles Times, Dec. 16, 2009

Using our Predator drones to attack targets in a "sprawling city" of 850,000, the Times says, "risks rupturing Washington's relationship with Islamabad."

I'll tell you very clearly: It will guarantee a rupture between my government and myself and cost the president what little shred of faith I still have in him.

The Times reports, in sterile, coldblooded terms, that our military has carried out 48 attacks by unmanned Predator and Reaper aircraft this year alone. Yet 10 is the number of supposedly high-level Taliban leaders you estimate we've killed.

Were the remaining targets empty buildings? Or have we already taken hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives through our cowardly actions?

Jon Williams, Goleta, CA

For Iran: Words or Warheads?

To The New York Times, Dec. 29, 2009

It was appalling to see Alan J. Kuperman's recommendation that the United States bomb Iranian nuclear facilities because Iran has refused to agree to the terms proposed by the International Atomic Energy Agency for processing nuclear fuel abroad.

Mr. Kuperman's proposal, if carried out, would be likely to kill a large number of Iranian civilians, unite most Middle East nations against the United States, destroy the rapidly growing dissident movement in Iran, end any Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, end allied support of American efforts in Afghanistan and encourage Iran to resume and accelerate a nuclear weapon program that most experts believe was suspended six years ago. That is too high a price to pay.

The better solution would be a Middle East nuclear-free zone, but that would require that Israel acknowledge and then destroy its own secretly developed nuclear arsenal, currently the only nuclear threat in the region.

Thomas A. Halsted, Gloucester, MA

Ignore Repression? Why Not?

To The Independent, Jan. 8, 2010

Richard Dalton, Britain's former ambassador to Iran, says, "We cannot ignore repression." Really? We ignore it every day when it is perpetrated by our allies; from Israel's siege of Gaza to the use of torture by Egypt and Pakistan, to the creation of concentration camps for Tamil refugees in Sri Lanka. …

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