British citizens not convinced Iraq is a threat
I appreciated the Sept. 17 Opinion piece by Anatol Lieven, "An ally, not a lapdog," which gave a balanced and perceptive view as to how the Bush administration is seen by quite a few on this side of the Atlantic.
There are large sections of the British community that are extremely concerned by many actions of the Bush government, and are perplexed by Tony Blair's enthusiasm to support right-wing policies driven by self-interest.
Of course, some of us Brits believe that Saddam Hussein is an evil dictator and in an ideal world his regime should go, but we are not yet convinced that he is an immediate threat to world peace. He has certainly never directly threatened the US or Western Europe, and there is no evidence that he was in any way connected to the events of Sept. 11.
It is better to have a regime change from within, than to have one imposed from outside. How would we react in either Britain or US if put in a similar position?
Regarding your Sept. 16 article "Larger aim in Iraq: alter Mideast," even if we were to assume a best-case postwar scenario which yields a more democratic Middle East, it is naive to think that it would translate to peace in the region and greater security for the US.
Given continued US support for Israeli policies and the suffering of many Iraqis as a result of the Gulf War, it is likely that the US will remain highly unpopular among any nascent democracies in a post-Hussein Middle East.
Furthermore, any such democracies may be too weak to combat radical elements that draw strength from anti-American sentiments and pose a threat to US interests.
The importance of individuality
Amitai Etzioni's Sept. 13 Opinion piece "The silver lining of 9/11," praises American citizens for having higher trust in the government and being more communitarian since Sept. 11.
Mr. Etzioni neglects to mention that communitarians believe that communities make individuals, not that rights-bearing individuals make up communities. They believe that the morals and goals of the group create the duties and responsibilities for each of us.
With these assumptions, one must ask: Weren't the terrorists acting as communitarians? Isn't there danger in aligning with a group, whether American or local, religious or global, without the continual questioning of the group and respect for individuals that the noncommunitarian, liberal tradition gave the West?
Whether acting in the name of Allah or America, passionate majorities are what the Framers warned against.
Thank you for publishing the truth about school testing in your Sept. 17 article "A plea to trust schools not just tests." I consider the increased emphasis on testing to be a misinformed and simple answer to a complex question.
Regarding the Sept. 18 article "Smartest city: PhDs, planning, and pet bakeries," the assertion that Bethesda, Md., is the smartest town in the US because it has the highest number of inhabitants with professional degrees, assumes that there is a correlation between smartness and education.
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