Afghanistan should be the only front in the war on terror

John Hughes's Sept. 6 Opinion column, "Don't abandon the quest for freedom in the lands of Islam," will do little to rouse support for the unpopular war in Iraq – not because the American people don't want to promote freedom in the world, but because they see that what is going on in Iraq is a bloody power struggle, not the birthing of democracy. This is President Bush's war, and it was based on egregious falsehoods. It is no wonder that the American people have soured on it. No amount of rhetorical exhortations about the soul's longing for freedom will make it palatable.

The central front of the war on terror was, and remains Afghanistan, which spawned the 9/11 massacres and is reverting to the same anarchic conditions that overwhelmed the Soviet Union when Afghanistan was its client state. Afghanistan is the Islamic land whose "quest for freedom" has been effectively abandoned – not by the American people, but by the Bush administration. It was all the nation-building we should have done or could have done well.
James Turanchik
Columbus, Ohio

At odds over a government in jail

The Sept. 14 article, "West Bank: a government in jail," presents in detail the Palestinian side of the governmental crisis, on which I'd like to comment.

Sari Orabi, editor of the local Hamas newspaper, is quoted as saying: "The citizens here know that America is the one keeping the funds from flowing in." And, "If America believed in democracy in the truest sense, it wouldn't be biased against the Palestinian Authority." What Mr. Orabi forgets to mention is that all that the US and the West have asked is for Hamas to relinquish terrorism and agree to a few other basic conditions in order to be considered truly democratic. Hamas has so far declined.

Also, Muyassar al-Wehwah, a middle-aged woman in Hebron, says, "They [Hamas officials] were put in jail before they did anything." This is incorrect: While they may personally have done nothing, their organization aided and supported terror attacks against Israel, including hundreds of Kassam missile attacks against civilians, and the kidnapping and holding hostage of a soldier, which is in defiance of the Geneva conventions.
Nahum Wengrov

Regarding the Sept. 14 article about the jailing of Hamas officials: It is not only the Palestinian government that is in jail. The entire West Bank and Gaza Strip have been turned into virtual open air prisons as Israel continues to construct concrete walls, razor wire fences, checkpoints, and roadblocks that hinder the lives of the Palestinian people as they try to navigate their way to do everyday tasks that many of us take for granted.

Recently, I spent more than two months with my wife and children in the Palestinian territories, and I could only shake my head in total shock at the way Palestinians are routinely treated by Israel and its army of occupation. Roads are closed or destroyed with no prior announcements, and Israeli soldiers who man the checkpoints and roadblocks do as they please regardless of the situation Palestinians travelers may be facing.

Policies and actions that should have the international community up in arms are routinely tolerated, leading me and many Palestinians to think that the world is filled with hypocrites who condemn Hizbullah and Hamas for abducting Israeli soldiers, yet remain silent as Palestinians are wasting away in Israeli prison camps, many without ever having any charges filed against them.
Mike Odetalla
Canton, Mich.

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