The US and its allies should engage more fully with Iran

John Hughes's Jan. 25 Opinion column, "In dealing with Iran, no method is sure, but save combat for last," albeit a good overview, is built on too many assumptions.

First, Mr. Hughes assumed that Iran's enrichment of uranium does in fact constitute a weapons program, without spelling out any reasonable arguments to the contrary for possible debate. Second, he ascribed the motivation behind the program to the Islamic zeal of a newly elected leader, even though the program existed in some form for years under reform leadership.

Then Hughes states that war against Iran would create more anti-American feelings in the Islamic world, when, frankly, I think it will create more anti-Americanism throughout the entire world - even with a coalition of the willing.

Lastly, when Hughes offers diplomacy as an option in dealing with Iran, he talks only of working on China and Russia to join the US and other powers so that we can make sanctions or other actions work. Whatever happened to diplomacy with the aim of making the Iranian nuclear program more transparent, of understanding Iran's true motivations, and of working to alleviate the fears and problems of all sides?

When we limit our diplomacy to the creation or expansion of so-called coalitions of the willing, we are taking the true meaning of diplomacy off the table. The US is unwilling to meet with its enemies. Rather than "reward" them through engagement we keep our enemies at arm's length, and are unable to understand them, evaluate the threats they pose, or effectively seek any method but force to deal with them. If your only tool is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
William Manning
Stanford, Calif.

Gratitude for troop greeters

Regarding the Jan. 24 article, "How Mainers greet troops: hugs, fudge, and 41 cellphones": I just want to thank the Monitor and its staff for recognizing the sincere efforts of the fine folks in the Troop Greeter Program who greeted me and my comrades both when we went to Iraq last year and came back this year.

I am in the Army, and it is the warmest feeling to be welcomed and wished well by these true patriots. I hope the story gets picked up widely.
Albert Lutes
Hinesville, Ga.

Brightening Earth's future is up to humans

The headline of the Jan. 20 article, "Forecast for Earth in 2050: It's not so gloomy," does mankind a disservice. It is not only misleading but dangerous because, by leaving us with the erroneous impression that things will somehow work out, it relieves any pressure on us to take decisive measures to actually ensure a hopeful future.

Irrefutable evidence lies before us that Earth isn't doing so well. We are faced with dwindling fisheries and other resources, a burgeoning population, falling water tables, dwindling oil reserves, deforestation and desertification, a decreasing area of arable land, the spread of AIDS, global warming, irreversible loss of genetic biodiversity, and the health implications of an increasingly polluted environment.

The article offers no evidence that humans will change their ecosystem management style. But in order not "to accept the doom-and-gloom trends," we must first be presented with broad, realistic, and sustainable interventions to reverse these trends. Until these are presented and acted upon, we unfortunately have no basis for rejecting the gloomy forecasts.
Allen R. Inversin
Riverdale, Md.

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