Letters to the Editor

Readers write about the failure to achieve success in Iraq, American economic dependence on China, and balancing security and liberty at US airports.

Failing to achieve victory in the Iraq war

The July 12 opinion article, "At stake in the Iraq war: survival of a way of life," suggests that withdrawal from Iraq would constitute a victory for Islamic totalitarianism. I believe that this assertion is completely false because it is well known that Al Qaeda had no significant presence in Iraq before the US-led invasion in 2003. Even now, Al Qaeda-inspired fighters are a source of only a portion of the violence that occurs in Iraq on a daily basis.

There is no way to obtain the simplistic victory over Islamic totalitarianism discussed in the opinion piece because that is not what the fighting is about. George Bush's decision to invade Iraq has been called the greatest strategic error in US history, in part, because it has placed the US in the position we currently find ourselves: unable to succeed and with no good option for concluding the war.

The US is an unwelcome occupier that has imposed untold horrors on the Iraqi people. Our presence taints whatever struggling Iraqi government we support. Withdrawal from Iraq, as quickly as practical, is the least worst option for ending our military involvement. This must be followed by internationally managed political and economic assistance, with primary financing from the US to aid Iraq in its recovery and reconstruction.

David Ahlfeld
Amherst, Mass.

In response to the July 12 opinion article, "At stake in the Iraq war: survival of a way of life," I believe the piece treats all wars fought by the US and Britain as equal and suggests that it is merely the lack of a will to win that prevents us from doing so in the current quagmire in Iraq. I think that is generally an absurd notion.

Where we have failed to achieve victory in war, it has been in those circumstances when we interfered in countries that posed no real threat to us. That was true in Korea, in Vietnam, and in Iraq.

The Al Qaeda threat that now does exist in Iraq was not there until we provided fertile ground for it due to our own blundering. The US invasion of Afghanistan was a justifiable action and perhaps could have been pursued to a victory over Al Qaeda, but the opinion article does not seem to make any distinctions between our efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq. I suggest that the English-speaking peoples have failed to support the war in Iraq because they have learned from their history.

Brad Felton
East Aurora, N.Y.

Regarding the July 12 opinion article, "At stake in the Iraq war: survival of a way of life," the opinion piece fails to make a clear distinction between law-abiding followers of Islam and the minority who support jihad, or holy war.

The withdrawal of British and American troops from Iraq would be a tacit acknowledgment that military force alone cannot defeat Islamic terrorism. Western leaders – including President Bush and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown – need to engage with moderate Islamic leaders who reject violence and support religious tolerance. Imams must be encouraged to eradicate the nihilistic and self-destructive tendencies of Islamic extremists.

The military, the police, and the judiciary may have a role in defeating terrorism but alert citizens and enlightened religious leaders must lead the way in promoting tolerance, peace, and stability in our cities and communities.

Alistair Budd
Geneva

The July 12 opinion article "At stake in the Iraq war: survival of a way of life," which addresses building a future empire in the image of Britain or the US, smacks of political and cultural elitism, white supremacy, neocolonialism, dominant Anglo-American militarism, and the doctrine of Manifest Destiny.

The anti-Europe, anti-Islam, and general anti-non-English speaking slant of the opinion article reveals a bigoted bias that is not good for the future.

Fred Duperrault
Mountain View, Calif.

Economic dependence on China

I completely agree with the July 10 editorial, "When 'made in China' is a warning." The dependence of US consumers on China is unbelievable and sadly irreversible, too. The US importers are importing over $30 million a year in bikes for kids, and adults and they are all very poor in quality and durability. It is really sad and of great concern how the Chinese economy is slowly overtaking us here in the US in many ways.

Ravi Sharma
Powell, Ohio

Balancing security and liberty

Reading the July 11 article, "Visit gone awry: Detention roils a US-German family," which featured Majed Shehadeh's detention at the airport, brought tears to my eyes. I can't imagine what innocent people who find themselves in these kinds of positions must feel like. I know there has to be some kind of balance when travelers are subjected to these types of rigorous interventions. Those who live or travel to the US are being put under microscopes and found guilty until proven innocent. Trust, respect, and dignity are definitely becoming lost in this new era.

Carol Crocker
Brampton, Ontario

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com.

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 OpEd.

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