A peaceful response is not an option

I read comments such as Edward Girardet's ("US, beware the consequences in Afghanistan," Oct. 22, opinion page) and wonder if he has forgotten the deaths of thousands on Sept. 11. I don't believe in revenge, but I do believe justice should be done, and more important for Arab leaders, justice should be seen to be done.

It's unfortunate that Afghans are dying. However, it seems to me that if the US does not strike back, it will only encourage terrorist action. And regarding the proposal of another Marshall plan: Has anyone considered that the US would pay the bill? When will the US grow tired of paying the bill and being the target? Let the Arab leadership know that if they carry out murder, they forfeit all aid.

Alistair Thomson Oshawa,Ontario

I was at two dinner parties last weekend. It would have been great to have Edward Girardet in attendance. Almost everyone approved of what we are doing in Afghanistan: Flag-waving patriotism had won out over rational thought. I suspect that if Osama bin Laden were thought to be holing up in Paris, London, or Munich, they would have agreed to bomb those cities back to the Stone Age. All guests seemed to think it was time to comply with the international consensus on Palestine and make it an independent state - but none assumed that would end terrorism.

C. F. Baumgartner Mercer Island, Wash.

Questioning Islam's 'tenet' of terror

I studied "The tenets of terror" (Oct. 18) to get an unbiased presentation of Islam and the thoughts of those involved in the terrorism that has plagued the world. I learned that Islam is basically a peace-abiding religion, and that terror has no "tenet."

Philip Arnold West Hills, Calif.

I am concerned about comments in "The tenets of terror." The reporters note that President Bush's and Prime Minister Blair's comments that the war on terrorism is not a battle between the West and Islam must "surely ... mean mainstream Islam."

Even the Saudi government - a nation with a conservative form of Islam - denounced Afghanistan's hosting of terrorists. The original terrorist action was universally condemned by Islamic nations, including condolences from Saddam Hussein. It is only after the loss of civilian lives in Afghanistan that the sympathy is beginning to shift.

Amrita Burdick Kansas City, Mo.

Guarding civil liberties in time of terror

"Watch out for America's own extremists" (Oct. 19, opinion page) is chilling. In the name of security, our government is shattering the Bill of Rights. Now we are warned to watch out for "extremists" who may protest. These rights were written into the Constitution to counteract the tyranny of the English monarchy. Instead of showing our "patriotism" by acquiescing to this latest tyranny, we should ask ourselves a few penetrating questions: Is the government upholding the law? Are suspected "extremists" breaking the law?

Ariel Master Lorane, Ore.

The hand-wringing over civil liberties is at risk of being out of touch with reality, and is an invitation to vigilante rule. Public-safety policies and the current modifications to them ensure that we use reason to protect ourselves. Too much ACLU opposition will have an opposite and deadly effect, if a general feeling of insecurity turns to panic due to inaction. We need a clear message that the government is in charge. The terrorists have promised more attacks. I caution those who become too zealous about civil liberties that they are toying with a loaded gun.

Daryl Baker Cary, N.C.

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