Plan for tribal militias in Afghanistan has a precedent
Regarding the June 13 article, "Karzai taps tribal fighters as police": In considering Afghan President Hamid Karzai's plan to arm tribal militias, the Monitor properly explored the risks of reviving warlordism and brigandry attendant to all remote areas. But there is also a well-understood methodology for making such efforts succeed.
It starts with responsibility and accountability within the traditional tribal structure. The British mastered the process early in this century in neighboring Waziristan in northwest Pakistan (again an Al Qaeda and Taliban battleground), Jordan (augmenting the Arab Legion), and elsewhere.
As to the Pashtun tribal areas of Afghanistan and Waziristan: In the 1939 classic book, "Imperial Policing" (2nd edition), British Maj. Gen. Sir Charles Gwynn outlines a 1937 campaign in Waziristan against "the Fakir of Ipi" using existing irregular tribal militia and "native levies commanded by British officers...."
The asymmetric warfare practiced by the Taliban and Al Qaeda requires native solutions to problems that are both political and cultural. The native militias proposed by Mr. Karzai can succeed if they are properly officered and supervised. As a closing note, this is not at all unlike the US-sponsored RF/PF program in Vietnam that tamed the Viet Cong guerrillas between 1968 and 1973.
Benjamin C. Works
Executive Director, The Strategic Issues Research Institute
Regarding the June 14 article, "With Oregon timber sale, controversy flares": I am continually in shock over the actions of so-called environmentalists in response to timber harvesting efforts attempted within US forests. With no harvesting of the dead tree boles left from fire, the forest in 20 years would look like a jungle, with fallen trees everywhere restricting the movement of animals as well as man.
Having to wait four years to harvest dead trees almost guarantees that there remains no financial value to what will be removed. This means that the cleanup, which simply must take place, costs a great deal more, and many new trees springing up in the ensuing four years will be destroyed. The wise effort would have been to harvest as soon as the ground was cool. That way, the new trees would be safe in peeking through.
Vice President, Mountain Communities Fire Safe Council
As I looked through the pictures in the June 15 article, "A train ride into America's melting pot," what I saw were people in New York from other countries participating in their cultural ways of life. To me, a melting pot is the blending together of people and their cultures. In the pictures, I did not see people mixing. What I saw were people who have come to America and now live in smaller communities that only represent the country or culture they came from. If we are to truly call this place a melting pot, then we need to start blending more.
I love this country, but what I do not love is that there are vast numbers of people coming to America with the expectation that they can live here and be as they were in their own countries. They cannot expect Americans to conform to their language or customs. Immigrants can still be who they are, honor where they came from, but also realize that they are making a choice to come to America and must learn to change some things in order to succeed in America.
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 print and on our website, www.csmonitor.com.
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.