Regarding Ali G. Scotten's Jan. 19 Opinion piece, "Iranians' love affair with America": Yes, there is a broad undercurrent of pro-American feeling among Iranians. And yes, the Bush administration should be leveraging that. It is also true that were the US to attack or invade Iran, the Iranian people would rise to defend their country.
But Mr. Scotten ignores the elephant in the room – actually two elephants. The first is that the government of Iran is probably seeking nuclear weapons. If Iran's nuclear ambitions are allowed to come to fruition, it would destabilize the entire region. Second, the government of Iran is funding and arming insurgents in Iraq that are killing American soldiers.
At the risk of overstating the case, I am sure that comparable results would probably have been found in Germany in 1938 or the Soviet Union during the cold war – favorable popular opinions toward the American people among Germans and Russians, combined with fierce nationalism and a desire to see their nations rise to importance on the international stage.
In response to Ali G. Scotten's Jan. 19 Opinion piece about Iranians' good feelings toward Americans: Yes, I hope we can learn to get along. I recently heard that some US college wrestlers went to Iran for a tournament and were very much welcomed. I hope to hear more good news. Closer to home, we saw how the Amish community dealt so positively with the terrible tragedy at their children's school. We're not all "crazy" here in America, either. Strong religious feelings don't have to isolate people.
Patrick T. Carroll
Regarding the Jan. 19 article, "Whither all the war protesters?": Whether it's nostalgia for the protests of the Vietnam War or true political conviction that motivates the war protesters, their energy is misguided.
This war in Iraq needs to be prosecuted fully and with conviction by our side for two obvious reasons: 1) to try to get a functioning democracy firmly in place; 2) to allow the US to leave Iraq with that democracy firmly in place. After that, the Iraqis are on their own. It's to be hoped that the Bush administration will send that message, but to do so it has to have some latitude. Antiwar protests won't help. They're just an unnecessary distraction.
Regarding the Jan. 12 article, "Bush's Iraq plan: Is it enough?": President Bush's plan to send 21,500 more troops into Iraq would probably decrease US security by fueling more anti-American sentiment throughout the Arab world. The presence of US troops in Iraq has already spurred the growth of militant Islamic forces both within Iraq and across the Middle East. A troop "surge" would probably strengthen the resolve of these forces.
While peacekeepers are needed to stabilize Iraq, they must be politically "neutral," such as UN troops that aren't viewed as pro-American or as supportive of a particular Iraqi faction. For neutral forces to enter Iraq, US troops must leave. Withdrawing US troops would allow for the involvement of countries that disagreed with the US-led invasion of Iraq. Withdrawing US troops would also prove that the US does not plan long-term occupation of Iraq, and this would probably decrease popular Arab support for militant Islamic groups and terrorists.
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