A key to understanding Arab frustration

Thank you so much for the April 11 article "US show of force galls Arab world" quoting Ahmed Bishara and Samir Ragab. Dr. Bishara's comments about a "culture of denial" in the Arab world and Mr. Ragab's reference to "threadbare rhetoric and hollow slogans" are extremely significant in terms of helping me understand the emotional origins of the anger so many in the Middle East are expressing. There is a resonant key being sounded here that may unlock some of the mystery of the Arab mind-set.
Edward Bickford
Charlottesville, Va.

Losing civilization

Regarding your April 14 article "Looters plunder in minutes Iraq's millennia-old legacy": Remember for a moment the emotion we felt not only for the horrible loss of life but for the destruction of two 30-year-old towers. Now imagine the emotion felt by an Iraqi who has lost artifacts from 7,000 years of civilization. We were wrong to have protected the oil wells before ensuring the safety of the Iraqi National Museum.
Glenn Cain
New York

Soldiers' sorrow not a surprise

Did the soldiers quoted in the April 11 article "US troops' anguish: Killing outmatched foes" have any idea of the tremendous, tragic irony in their statements? Regarding the Iraqis' need to secure their country in the face of the destruction of most of their military, Lt. Col. Woody Radcliffe, for example, said,"We didn't want to do this."

But the US had been bombing Iraq's defenses for years, and UN regulations forced Iraq to destroy most of what was left. These soldiers didn't want to be up against such outmatched foes, but the people who sent them there knew quite well that unless there really were some hidden WMDs, this was not going to be a war but a massacre. Had the administration thought about it, they would also have known that many soldiers might return home with trauma, regret, and guilt.

The greatest irony in the article is the comment by Capt. David Roberts: "The sad thing is these guys are being led by people who don't know what they are doing." Maybe the same thing is true for "our guys."
Linda O'Brien
Takoma Park, Md.

Major labels miss truly moving music

The April 11 article "Independents' Day" states that independent labels' success is related to their demographic target - adults, who are more likely to buy music than download it for free. But numerous independent labels target niche markets like the various flavors of electronic music or hip-hop, which are most often associated with young people.

In addition, because much independent music is relatively obscure and unknown, it is not likely to be on the Internet. The vast bulk of music traded online is that of well-known standard or classic artists of a genre, plus top stars. Indeed, Kazaa probably won't have tracks by that great band you saw last week, which probably sells most of its music at shows, through a website, and at a few record stores.

Unfortunately for major labels, much of the best music made today will never get a second look by their A&R people because it won't sell a million copies. Instead, their marketing departments peddle the soulless, overproduced sound of the latest groomed superstar. Independents, on the other hand, don't have to sell nearly as much music to break even. Thus they can focus on fragmented markets made up of people craving good music, people who will appreciate the rare discovery of an artist or album that is truly moving.
Robin Kraft
San Francisco
Associate Editor

Independent Musician Magazine

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