'Why do they hate us?' brings clarity - and questions

Congratulations on your Sept. 27 report " 'Why do they hate us?' " True patriotism includes an informed awareness of how the United States has treated other people. That which calls itself patriotism, but is blind to our mistakes, is shallow, simplistic jingoism. If we ignore mistakes, our actions - however justified - are unlikely to improve either the world situation or the American position. To seek global popularity is futile, but we must think clear-headedly about our contributions to this situation.

Daniel Kingman Sacramento, Calif.

I commend you for " 'Why do they hate us?' " It's time the media brought out US foreign policy as a root cause of Sept. 11. As we emerge from grief, it's time for self-examination, time to think intelligently about why this happened.

Thank you for mentioning the inequity of our policy in relation to Israel and the Palestinians. We need to show more compassion toward Arabs, and insist that Israelis deal fairly with Palestinians. Until the US corrects its present inequitable policy in the Middle East, all the security measures in the world, and all our efforts to defeat terrorism, will be in vain. If we are waging a campaign for justice, we might start with a just foreign policy.

Catherine Hammond Cambridge, Mass.

" 'Why do they hate us?' " was depressingly insightful. Your historical scroll needs a timeline of another important factor: increasing dependence on and exploitation of Arab and Muslim oil. Protecting access to strategic resources has been an important motivator - even the motivator - in our foreign policy. We must remind ourselves that we are interdependent, and that they are human.

Allan Dean Swannanoa, N.C.

" 'Why do they hate us?' " was right on the money. But you ignore positive American policies. Case in point is our close relationship with Afghanistan, from 1946 until the Russians invaded. Our aid programs were a wonderful success story. I lived there and saw how millions of Afghans benefited. Similar work was done in Pakistan, Iran, and Iraq. But our positive impacts were lost in our lack of open-handed follow-up after governments changed and wars ended. If half the money we have given Israel had been spread over the Middle East in the past 30 years, we might have helped millions, avoided "Desert Storm," and still have two towers in New York.

Steve Reilly Athens, Ohio

" 'Why do they hate us?' " was disappointing. President Bush offered words that Americans needed to hear. The Monitor used those words to open a piece justifying terrorism. The tone that only the US has made mistakes is biased. No country is perfect, but the US is exceptional in trying to rectify mistakes. Terrorists do not need sympathy, nor does hatred need understanding. They need to be stopped.

Francesca Karpel Belmont, Calif.

" 'Why do they hate us?' " presents a superficial analysis. You only briefly touch on the most important causes: flaws in Arab and Islamic societies. Virtually every one of these countries has a government of questionable legitimacy, providing few real freedoms. The one abundant freedom is the freedom to hate America and Israel. By deflecting and magnifying the people's anger, these governments avoid having their own legitimacy questioned.

Mikhail Gorbachev realized the Soviet Union's biggest problem was itself. Until the Arab world comes to this conclusion, it will be stuck striking out at scapegoats, failing to create viable societies.

Zach Zanello Los Angeles

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