When Arabs once admired America

Richard C. Hottelet writes of a new agency "to peddle goodwill toward America," and notes it is "more likely to become a laughing stock, cheapening the message of a great country" ("Stop being a lone ranger on Iraq," Opinion, Aug 5). He adds that "Washington seems to have forgotten that its immense influence stems from what the US is and what it does, not from anything that it says."

I agree. When I first lived and traveled in the Middle East in the 1950s, I was astonished at how much Arabs admired America. Many could quote passages from our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. The boys in my high school classes knew more American history than the kids I had left behind in the US. In their eyes, America had never been a colonial power; we ourselves had been a colony, had overthrown our master and gone on to prosper like no other nation in history. They wanted to be like us.

There was the little matter of Israel, but they were sure that in time the wise Americans would sort it all out. Some of my students were named either Woodrow or Wilson for the president who had argued – in vain – at the Versailles Conference for the Arab independence promised by the British and French and then denied to them.

At that time, the Arab world was one place where America did not need to beg, buy, or fight for friendship: we had it, ignored it, and pretty well lost it.
Bernice Youtz
Tacoma, Wash.

In favor of a national ID card

Regarding "Give the old number a rest": (Editorial, Aug. 5): The Monitor correctly points out that not only are Social Security numbers overused for all kinds of purposes, but they also lend themselves to identity theft. This has become a serious problem, especially when one is asked to provide a Social Security number on Internet forms.

A national identity card, incorporating the latest technology for avoiding forgeries (such as iris recognition or DNA), is a way to protect us as individuals and also assist with homeland security. Such cards could also make clear distinction between US citizens and permanent or temporary foreign residents, and they would make it easier to deal with illegal immigrants.

To those who argue that a national ID card would infringe on their civil liberties or on their privacy, I would say that this is no more the case than it is now with state-issued driver's licenses. I have not heard of anyone refusing to obtain a driver's license for such a reason.

Many advanced and democratic countries have a national ID card system, and it works for them. The US should follow their example and not lag behind, as we have done in other areas (failure to adopt the worldwide metric system is a prime example).
Gerald Newall
San Diego

Liberating children in the Middle East

Regarding the article, "Radical Islam finds unlikely haven in liberal Britain" (Aug. 5): This piece is an excellent example of the press exposing, to the benefit of all freedom- loving people, the evil and ignorant sects of religious radicals who wish to use murder to achieve their nonreligious political goals.

Mohammed Sultan, who is mentioned in the article as a regional leader of al Muhajiroun (one of many worldwide radical Muslim sects) "calls for support of jihad to liberate the children of Iraq, Palestine, and Afghanistan." I agree with him. These children should be liberated. Not, however, from American or British or Israeli aggression, but from their own radical Muslim leaders who fear losing their tyrannical, dictatorial powers to the freedom and equality (especially of women) that democracy offers to all people.
Deirdre Hill
Studio City, Calif.

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