Najaf reflects the birth of a nation

In the Aug. 13 article "Najaf battle a crucial test for Allawi" Scott Baldauf misses the whole story of Iraq. What we are observing is the birth of a nation.

Various groups are vying for power in the new country. It reminds me of stories I have read about the American revolution and formation of the United States. There were large colonies vs. small colonies, farmers vs. merchants, North vs. South, etc. all vying for power.

Sadr has been a failure. He does not have the power to conquer the country.
David P. Merkel
Woburn, Mass.

The fight from the holy city of Najaf is a sign that things are not yet on the right track in Iraq. The US handed over the power to the Iraqi people, but apparently not all of them were happy with the outcome. The young, violent cleric Moqtada al Sadr has a different agenda from the interim government of Iraq.

Ultimately, that's a pity; the only ones who will lose from this state of anarchy are the majority of the Iraqi people. Trying to stabilize one of the world's most politically turbulent regions has proven to be a frustrating objective for both the US and for the Iraqi Prime Minister Iyad Allawi.
Manuela Paraipan
Arad, Romania

World Bank serving the wrong interests

Regarding Nadia Martinez's Aug. 16 Opinion "World Bank ignores its own advice": Where is the oversight for this US taxpayer-supported development tool that does not support its own mission - helping the world's poor?

Chad's use of World Bank funding to purchase weapons certainly made the lives of its citizens more miserable and encouraged the warfare, ravaging, and pillaging that seem to plague the African continent.

Why does the World Bank support the perilous continued reliance on fossil fuels over renewable energy? What drives the World Bank to consider profits over people, when its mission and promises are clearly stated? There are more questions than answers in this tragic saga of development that trumps human rights.
Kathy Smith
San Diego

The World Bank has some experience in microfinance - a kind of lending that's been proven to significantly alleviate poverty by directly helping poor women and their families borrow a few dollars for an egg-laying hen, a sewing machine, or a small inventory of goods to resell. However, microcredit loans currently amount to only about 1 percent of the international development money lent by the World Bank.

Wouldn't it be great if, instead of giving taxpayer money to extractive industries such as Halliburton, the bank could help people who were actually in need - perhaps by raising that 1 percent for microfinance to 2 or 3 percent?
Marc Tolo
Lawrenceville, N.J.

Tighten the CAFE standards

Regarding your Aug. 13 editorial "Spoils of Pricier Oil": The concept of an increased federal excise tax on gasoline more is interesting. However, taxing gasoline does not curb consumption. I believe a far less burdensome approach would be the enactment of more rigid fuel economy standards.

The current CAFE standards have proven little more than window-dressing fraught with loopholes. A new standard mandating a minimum fuel economy for each vehicle produced is needed.

Such a standard might be a minimum 30 m.p.g. for all cars and 25 m.p.g. for trucks and all other vehicles with gross weights over 4,000 lbs.
Dave Cluley
Grand Rapids, Mich.

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