Labeling Iran 'evil' isn't an engaging idea

Regarding "Engaging Iran, slowly" (June 4, Opinion): Amitai Etzioni is illuminating in his appreciation of the political situation in Iran and in his telling of why reformers in Iran are less inclined to advocate negotiations with the United States now that they are seen as a part of the "axis of evil." (The Clinton administration had been on course to engage Iran in open dialogue.) However, no analyst has yet to satisfactorily explain on whose advice President Bush first lumped together Iran, Iraq, and North Korea in his "axis of evil."

The phrase itself would be merely childish – even amusing in its fundamentalist overtone – were it not for the president's insistence that we accept it as a valid premise. With the advent of the "lone superpower," the world has only recently been relieved of the risks of global war and nuclear annihilation and has set out on the path to peace, tolerance, and justice. A decade after the cold war, the world community resembles a rough neighborhood where some residents, wary of facing the same bully every day, are nostalgic for a time when the two biggest powers were too busy eyeballing one another to intimidate the rest.
Kewmars Bozorgmehr

I found Mr. Etzioni's article to be a realistic analysis of the social and political status of Iran. It is clearly evident that the Bush administration has been misguided in its approach and handling of Iran. President Bush's "axis of evil" address has paved the way for Iranian hard-liners and mullahs who act against the interests of the nation. We Iranians are besieged by their propaganda and Bush is only helping them. I look forward to reading more from him.
Abbas Khodabakhsh
Tehran, Iran

Lesson for Palestinians from East Timor

Regarding "Palestinian reformers reject US pressure on security" (June 3): Will Palestinians ever be truthful about what keeps them from preventing suicide attacks and other killings of Israeli civilians? In your article, one Bethlehem official says that without independence and freedom there will only be more terror. The chief of Bethlehem's naval police says, "Usually a person who is well fed, who is doing fine, won't kill himself."

East Timor's experience suggests another way. Here is one of the poorest countries in the world that has lost 25 percent of its current total population since it was invaded and occupied in 1975 by Indonesia. Yet these people are soberly building a democratic society which, as their Nobel Peace laureate Jose Ramos-Horta testifies, did not kill one innocent civilian of the occupying Indonesian population in all their years of struggle and resistance. The journey of the East Timorese to independence should be broadcast over Al Jazeera and reported in the Arab press as a lesson for the Palestinians who tragically have been betrayed by inept, corrupt, and murderous leadership for decades.
Tom Herz
San Francisco

Stay alert but without fear

Regarding "Discussing inevitability" (May 30, Learning): God bless our leaders, but it sounds as if they've gone to the dark side. The quotes on the sidebar of this story resemble terrorist rhetoric. Presumably these warnings intend to garner support for the war on terror, but do we really need prodding? Perhaps they're being honest and open, but our penchant for transparency will be perceived as weakness by people who, over the centuries, have venerated subterfuge and mastered the art of sophisticated, patient, and truly elegant plotting. Note to our leaders: Inspire us. Instill paranoia in the enemy, not in your own people!
Mimi Zoll
Tucson, Ariz.

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