Letters to the Editor
Readers write about Guantánamo Bay, the perception of Iran, citizen diplomats, and the peaceful function of the military.
The trials at Guantánamo will not be fair
Regarding the Feb. 12 article, "US launches 9/11 military trials": There will be two trials, both with foreordained results for the same reasons.
The detainees will be tried under special rules, without the due process of United States civilian courts and without even the limited due process of ordinary military courts. The "extraordinary" rights referred to by Brig. Gen. Thomas Hartmann are ordinary rights awarded criminal defendants minus some, such as the important protection from compulsory self-incrimination. In addition, evidence obtained by torture will probably be admitted.
The US is the defendant in the court of world opinion. We will lose for the same reasons the detainees will lose, because we used torture and conducted the detainees' trials with unfair procedures. Our defense will probably be that we obtained vital information through torture, but we have forgotten that the end does not justify the means.
It's sad that these convictions could probably have been obtained using fair procedures and without the use of torture. That the country I used to love without reservation engaged in torture, disregarded the rule of law, and thus joined the ranks of the repressive regimes of history is sadder. But that people were tortured in my name as a US citizen is the saddest thing of all.
Linda S. Lodenkamper
Iran still has many opponents
In response to Iason Athanasiadis's Feb. 27 Opinion piece, "Waiting for a US-Iran handshake": The news of Iran's success in regional dominance is greatly exaggerated.
The piece, uncritically, relies on the words of the Iranian foreign-policy elite to draw an overly rosy, in fact inaccurate, picture of the status of Iran in the Muslim Middle East. This triumphalism is easily checked by the reality in the Arab world.
In attempting to project its influence, Iran has created tensions in Bahrain, Kuwait, and Lebanon, among other countries in the Middle East. To sense what the people in Cairo and Riyadh think and feel, it is more useful to visit the Arabic Internet sites than to hear Iranian diplomats crow. A visit to the popular news sites, such as Elaph and Al Arabiya, show that Iran's policies have, unfortunately but not surprisingly, unleashed a lot of anger and hate.
Far from gaining popularity in Riyadh and Cairo, Iran has awakened the sectarian genie and, with its policies, incited ancient sectarian animosities that had been largely dormant for many years.
Citizen diplomats are important allies
Regarding your Feb. 4 editorial, "A surge for a sinking Afghanistan": The editorial mentions the need for Washington's allies to help in Afghanistan. The Feb. 15 article, "Helping US by helping the world" mentions awards being given to some of Washington's most important allies, "citizen diplomats" such as Greg Mortenson.
If Washington would give more credit to its humanitarian allies who work to help bolster Afghanistan, it might get more support from its NATO allies.
War prevention is a defense priority
Regarding your Feb. 14 editorial, "Bush's unfinished Africa legacy": The mission of United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) is unclear only to those who fail to understand that the primary role of the military is to prevent war, not to wage war. Unfortunately, the majority of Americans, on both the left and right, seem to be too attached to war to understand war prevention as an objective that the military strives for every day.
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