Questioning engagement with Taliban

As a humanitarian worker who has traveled several times to Afghanistan, I must take issue with Peter Bell's assertion that the United States is isolating that country's Taliban regime ("Isolating Afghanistan Will Not Help," July 30, opinion page).The contrary is actually the case, since US diplomats continue to meet regularly with Taliban officials. The US government has provided over $100 million in humanitarian assistance to Afghanistan for the past several years, most of which has gone to areas under Taliban control.

Despite such engagement, however, the Taliban have consistently taken action to isolate themselves from the international community, whether it be by destroying ancient statues or placing restrictions on aid workers which are harsher than anywhere else in the world.And, of course, the Taliban continue to provide safe haven to Osama bin Laden, a man the US government holds responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocent people, including Americans.

With all this, Mr. Bell should hardly expect a more conciliatory approach from the United States or other world governments.

Julie Sirrs Arlington, Va.

Committee for a Free Afghanistan

Isn't it noteworthy that in the July 30 issue of the Monitor, Peter Bell writes that we should seek to replace arms sanctions on the Taliban and focus on humanitarian aid to the people of Afghanistan?

Eight days later, as reported in the Monitor, 24 international aid workers, including two Americans, trying to assist Afghanistan's people to rise from their misery, are arrested by the Taliban for "promoting Christianity," a crime punishable by death in the Taliban-ruled country (Aug 7., News In Brief).

One must wonder which group "focusing on humanitarian aid" will be next to face death by the Taliban.

Richard Godfrey

Chester, N.H.

Why should employees be loyal?

This is a bit off topic from the editorial "No Defense for Deserters" (Aug. 9), which I found very informative and thought-provoking.However,I take exception to one sentence, the opening, "In a society that increasingly puts career advancement above loyalty to an employer..."

In the private sector, I believe that the loyalty of employer to employee has broken down with few exceptions.This is reflected in the mass downsizing and outsourcing of the past 20 years.It can be seen from professional through labor ranks. Of course, management has largely been unaffected by this. How can employees be expected to be loyal when loyalty is not returned by the employer?

Robert Byrd

Crown Point, Ind.

Media degrades aging

Thank you so much for articles like "Don't let yourself think 'old' " (Aug. 3, article on Christian Science).

I am 37, but still think of getting old. I know that my sister, who is 39, is panicked about turning 40. I think in this day and age most everyone seems to be caught up in looks. Also, the media has done a fantastic job of degrading the aging process, by trying to sell beauty creams, serums, etc.

I know that people are thinking about the age issue, so I am thankful to see these articles, for they not only help older people , but the middle-aged and younger, too. I wish I would have found this fresh insight before I started to buy into the media hype. But, thank God, I have started my spiritual journey and am learning so much each and every day!

Anne Lund


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