Democracy, not inspections, will keep Iran honest

Regarding your Nov. 13 editorial "Keeping Iran Honest and Open": An honest Iran does not necessarily come with an opening-up policy. Because of the Islamic Republic's hide-and-seek tactics, the International Atomic Energy Agency - in its attempt to open Iranian facilities to ad hoc inspection, backed by the US - will see only a fraction of Iran's nuclear program.

Why? The answer is simple. Iran is a vast land filled with deep caves and high terrain, difficult for any IAEA team to inspect, even with the most sophisticated tools and satellite imagery, let alone a surprise visit. So let's be honest about the issue. It took the IAEA 18 years to figure out that Iran was working on a plutonium-enrichment program.

But Iran having nuclear capability is not as alarming as are the intentions of the clerical regime in power. The real threat that is being imposed on the rest of the free world comes not so much from a technologically equipped Iran but by those men and women who could potentially point the bomb in various directions and launch if their demands are not met. Obviously, their bargaining power would quadruple, as they would regard any war waged on them as a holy jihad, and it is precisely this kind of mind-set that is alarming.

For this reason, an "honest and open" policy needs to be backed by democratization within the country. The free world, led by the United States, needs to lend its support to the people of Iran to expedited progressive change by restoring values that Iranians respect dearly but have been denied over the past 25 years by a regime that has stopped at nothing to maintain power.
Shahriar Shahabi
Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Don't change the channel just yet

Your editorial ("Cable channels à la carte") missed the point of the General Accounting Office study on cable. The GAO report also found that technological, contractual, and economic factors affected the manner in which programming services are offered to consumers. For example, à la carte could impose additional costs on customers who do not have addressable set-top boxes and could also affect the current economics of cable networks, which would see a falloff in advertising revenues.

Cable operators nationwide have invested $75 billion in private risk capital to provide consumers with a choice of advanced services such as digital cable, high-speed Internet, local competitive telephone, and high-definition TV. Our customers - more than 20 million on digital cable, approximately 15 million on cable modem, and over 2.5 million on cable telephony - are evidence of the quality and value that the cable industry is delivering.

Consumers need to understand the full facts behind programming à la carte and deserve an accurate picture of the choices under consideration.
Robert Sachs
President and CEO, National Cable & Telecommunications Association

Attacked for serving in Vietnam

Regarding your Nov. 14 article "Japan's war past sparks Chinese rage": You quote Gerald Curtis of Columbia University stating that we (in the US) criticized our presence in Vietnam while we honored the soldiers. Obviously he wasn't spat upon, screamed at, or attacked on US streets while in uniform.

I was in the service for 10 years and was in Vietnam from 1966 to 1969. I was attacked by protesters with metal pipes in California and beaten almost to death.

The college boys who did it were identified but never punished in any way. I didn't and still don't feel very honored as a Vietnam veteran.
Donald Wolgast
Rock Island, Ill.

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted will appear in the print publication and on .

Mail letters to 'Readers Write,' and opinion articles to Opinion Page, One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, or fax to 617-450-2317, or e-mail to Letters .

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.