Letters

In foreign policy, focus on people, not weapons

Regarding your Nov. 8 interview with David Halberstam on foreign policy: It seems that historians and commentators might clarify what the category "foreign policy" means. There have been articles about this topic recently, and all that is discussed therein is peace and war. These days, when the world is so small - and it is possible to have global corporations, employees, families, fashions, and fads - foreign policy should not be just consideration of whom we can attack.

We cannot ignore the simple joys of learning to manage our own character, to tell the truth, to keep promises, to take restorative responsibility for harm done to others, and to listen to the unfortunate. There is generally one way for things to go right, but things can go wrong any number of ways. We should openly employ sound principles when responding to any crisis and dealing with others, instead of spending the energy on useless weapons and dubious informers.

Cynthia Shepard San Francisco

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Support of the bond with Britain

As a United States citizen, it angers me to read the open criticism of British Prime Minister Tony Blair in your article "As Blair's influence grows, so does criticism at home" (Nov. 16). As a result of hearing Mr. Blair, this is the first time in my life that I have felt a high degree of respect for Britain and feel aware of the importance of the close bond our two countries share. If his efforts enhance Britain's security by strengthening international ties and at the same time promote a world that is free of murderous gangs of terrorists, what could be more important? How else should Blair spend his time?

Mark Scott Fayetteville, Ark.

Uniting with Arab-Americans

High marks for the Monitor and its staff. I find your coverage hopeful at a time when forces try to smear Islam in general and Muslims in America in particular. The attempts of good-hearted people to bring our communities closer, based solely on our common values and beliefs, is met with this notion that Islam is inherently "anti-West" and that Muslims in the US have a hidden agenda to "Islamize America." The most Muslims are trying to achieve is to coexist based on mutual respect and understanding. It is imperative that we encourage active Muslim participation in issues that are integral to our unity in the United States.

Bilal Yousaf Waldorf, Md.

Following Sept. 11, we all heard the stories of Arab-Americans feeling fearful, some so much that they were afraid to come out of their homes. To our tribute, Americans rose to the occasion to show support for Arab-Americans and protest racial profiling or other acts of discrimination.

After Sept. 11, I discovered I didn't even know many Arab-Americans even though I live in a city with an Arab-American population of over 220,000.

I found this new awareness quite humbling. I have since seen that the possibilities of transforming the world are endless, once we address world issues on a personal level.

To this end, I invite all Americans to start new "citizen circles" in their communities. Small groups of 12 or fewer people provide an atmosphere in which each person can speak from the heart and share personal experiences. Then we may collectively come to new answers for the world.

C. Diane Tedder Detroit

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Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to oped@csps.com.

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