Regarding the Nov. 7 Opinion piece "Inclusive security: Recognize all stakeholders in stability": Swanee Hunt claims that women in Iraq worry that a regime change could mean a "change to Islamic fundamentalist leadership." Clearly, if America forces Saddam Hussein from power, the last type of regime our country will permit in Iraq is a fundamentalist one. Try democratic or UN-operated.
Second, Ms. Hunt says if we invade Iraq we will "certainly unite against us" the Muslims who otherwise are not allies, and that this "unification will encourage a contagious antipathy for Western modernity." This argument was used to caution against the recent US effort in Afghanistan. Yet the Islamic world did not arise in outrage and topple governments.
In addition, the terrorists who find safe haven in the Islamic world are already at war with the US, and Sept. 11 is a poignant example that there's no turning back. It's time to deal with this issue honestly.
I applaud Ms. Hunt's efforts on behalf of women in the Islamic world, but the greatest opportunity for improving their lives can occur only if the winds of Western enlightenment blow across their lands. But the issue remains: protecting America from fanatical terrorists.
Clifton B. Parker
In response to Omer Bin Abdullah's Nov. 7 letter (Readers Write) "Debunking myths about Muslims, Jews": Perhaps Muslims would get a better response from Westerners if they didn't repeat such patent falsehoods, widely circulated among Muslims, as "Democracy in Islam predates democracy in the West."
The very word "democracy" comes from the Greeks, where democracy began in 510 BC, more than a millennium before the birth of Muhammad. A representative democracy, or republic, existed in Rome from about the same time, and the rights of a Roman citizen outlived the Republic, being used to advantage by St. Paul.
Even shortly before the birth of Muhammad, democracy had not died out in Europe. For example, a republic existed on the Baltic island of Gotland (off the Swedish coast) from approximately AD 550 and continued into the present era, much to the annoyance of the monarchies that thought they had conquered it, only to find that they could not rule it.
What I think we should be striving for is a period of tolerance, where everybody can speak their mind no matter how blasphemous or seditious their words may seem to the local religious and political leaders. That is what we have and treasure in the United States, and what is sorely needed abroad.
In response to the Oct. 23 Opinion piece "The roots of American-style terrorism": Your article shows great insight into senseless murder committed by society. After Sept. 11, the men I live with in isolation cheered every time the body count rose. When the Washington-area sniper started his killing spree, no one thought it was senseless. Most said they would like to do the same thing when they get out.
After 17 years of incarceration, I have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. Those in the system - prisoners, jailers, and judges alike - who speak of "rehabilitation" are regarded as wild-eyed speculators about the human spirit, more concerned for the criminal than the victim.
And yet to not rehabilitate is to welcome an ever-increasing hostile underclass of snipers back into society.
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