Debating foreign entanglement - and opportunity

I enjoyed your article "Bitter lessons from the past" (Oct. 1), and encourage our leaders to work with Russia as we endeavor to stamp out terrorist networks in Afghanistan.

The Soviet-installed government in Kabul lasted well over a year - longer than any Western expert predicted - and failed primarily due to US support for extremist rebel elements and the collapse of the Soviet Union. In this crisis, we have an opportunity to enlist the support and help of Russia and India - two nuclear powerhouses and democratic nations - that have plenty of experience dealing with terrorism and can help us immeasurably. It's time for our foreign policy to start seriously considering Russia and India as true allies, instead of cavorting with extremist Islamic groups for the sake of oil and the philosophy that "the enemy of my enemy is my friend."

Michael Pravica Las Vegas, N.M.

Giving Syria a seat on the UN Security Council is like giving the Mafia a seat on a crime prevention committee. Syria is not only a brutal, authoritarian nation - it's a major sponsor of terrorism. For decades, the UN has sanctioned brutal dictatorships and terrorist regimes. To do so in the name of promoting "human rights" and "peace" is an intellectual obscenity. The inevitable result is a world plagued with brutality.

It's unconscionable that the US did not join Israel in opposing Syria's bid. Given the terrorist attack of Sept. 11, it is morally obscene for America to stay in the UN or allow the UN to stay in America. In its war on terrorism, America should have put the UN on its list of terrorist-sponsoring organizations.

Glenn Woiceshyn Calgary, Alberta

There are three tasks that are indispensable to world peace. First, we must insist that Israel get all settlers out of the West Bank and Gaza, that a Palestinian state be recognized, that Jerusalem be made an international city, and that Israel's safety be guaranteed. And we should stop financial aid until these steps are taken. Second, we must give all the aid we can to Afghan refugees, and let this action be seen publicly. Third, because one Arab grievance is that our presence in Saudi Arabia violates their religious sense, we must move our forces out of there and put them in Kuwait - which, after all, owes us a great deal. These three actions would put us on high moral ground, where we belong.

Ruth May Littleton, Colo.

Two Oct. 2 letters to the editor ("Pausing for a view from the cliff of war") perfectly illustrate two points of view dividing our nation: One argued the futility of war and the need for a just response to terrorism. The other argued the futility of peace without a mechanism for bringing perpetrators to justice. They are both right. There is no happy solution in a world where anarchy reigns.

The war we need to fight is to establish a system of international laws to resolve disputes fairly. Any war on terrorism will pit one group against another. What is unique about the US is our diversity, a population that includes people from everywhere in the world. For all our faults, we are a functioning multi-ethnic society. Who better to lead the crusade for peace through world law?

David Fairley San Francisco

Thank you for having the courage to publish Steve Reilly's letter on the need for open-handed follow-up in Afghanistan (" 'Why do they hate us?' brings clarity - and questions," Oct. 3). I, too, believe open-handed policy is the fair way to go. Let's at least have free discussion about it, without fear.

Also, exactly why are American soldiers in Saudi Arabia? Anything to do with SUVs?

Amy Jay New York

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