Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Iraq refugees in Jordan, religion in politics, and America's image in the world.

How Jordan is really coping with so many Iraqi refugees

In response to the July 2 article, "In Jordan, aid for Iraqi refugees is often redirected": The article grossly misrepresents the impact of the influx of Iraqis into Jordan on the local economy and society. Jordan regards this issue as a critical concern and has addressed it accordingly with utmost seriousness and diligence.

The study conducted by the Norwegian nongovernmental organization, Fafo, concluded that there are 450,000 to 500,000 Iraqis in Jordan, and not 161,000 as the article inaccurately suggests. Only 20 percent of Iraqis in Jordan have requested to be repatriated to a third country, and a smaller percentage have sought humanitarian asylum, thus the government's reference to them as "guests" rather than "refugees."

The article ignores the breadth of the burden on Jordan's infrastructure and chooses to focus on partial costs endured by the government related only to education and health. In fact, the study demonstrates that the Iraqis are concentrated in main cities, thereby straining various other sectors – particularly energy, water, and security. Moreover, the government has issued visa fine waivers for Iraqis at an estimated cost of $273 million. These estimates cannot be omitted from the overall assessment, especially given the magnitude of challenges facing our own economy.

Despite these difficulties, our government is committed to continue to do all it can to ease the hardship of Iraqis in Jordan.

Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein
Washington
Ambassador of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan

Editor's note: The Monitor got the figure of an estimated 161,000 Iraqis who remain in Jordan from a recent survey by the Jordanian Department of Statistics and the Norwegian organization Fafo. Based on other evidence, the article accurately depicts the refugee situation in Jordan – and the conflicting estimates of Iraqis there.

A proper place for religion in politics

In response to C. Welton Gaddy's June 16 Opinion piece, "Candidates: Stop misusing religion": It is tremendously important that matters of religion and morality receive serious treatment in this crucial election cycle. No particular house of worship has any moral priority in the United States.

We can address ethics – the goodness of the candidate's character – from an abstract, philosophical perspective, too. Only in this way can the religious diversity of the United States become an effective moral force for political reform.

Thomas Sipe
Grosse Pointe Woods, Mich.

US: Earn respect by consuming less

Regarding John Hughes's June 26 Opinion piece, "The key to a better US image": Unfortunately, before we can win in the war of ideas, we have to clean up our act.

If all countries in the world gobbled up natural resources like America does, the world would soon be uninhabitable. I am not suggesting that we scrap capitalism, but rather that we must regulate better in order to create an economy that is less noxious to the planet.

If one wants to be respected, one must be respectable. The world views America as a voracious consumer of natural resources that projects its military around the world to secure those natural resources.

When we start to have a serious internal dialogue about how we can change our act to be a better example for the future of the world, when we are serious about living in a way that secures the well-being of the planet, then we will be respected again, internationally and domestically.

Ed Morley
Glen Rock, N.J.

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 pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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