Americans' freedom to succeed will keep the US competitive

The Nov. 14 article, "Will the US be competitive in 10 years?" was very interesting. But I would like to raise a few simple questions and make a few comments: Is government involvement the answer to remaining competitive? Are government worker- training programs the answer? I don't believe so.

The US was founded on the principle that individuals may pursue happiness. Therefore, it is individual performance that fuels our progress as a nation and our competitive edge over other countries.

It is very likely, in my opinion, that we Americans will remain highly competitive due to the fact that we always have allowed people to be successful. (Individuals such as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs will keep us competitive.)

There is no other country in the world that can match us in this regard, even if some countries focus more on academia in a general sense. I am a native of the Netherlands but am proud of my new country's achievements.
Robert Cohn
Johns Creek, Ga.

Only democracy can free Arab societies

Regarding the Nov. 14 article, "No clash of civilizations, says UN report": The United Nations has joined hands with Arabists to blame the constant violence and radicalization of the Arab masses on US policies in the Middle East.

This perception is not only erroneous, but is also a distortion of the inner conflict between two cultures as well. Whereas the US, Western Europe, and most of the world have either established democratic institutions or are in the process of integrating universal Western values, the Arab population is still lingering under tyrannical regimes. Repressive methods of governing not only affect the Arab population negatively, they also reinforce Arab regimes' abusive approach to consolidating their control.

Democracy – even when imposed through force – is the sole guarantor to reengineer Arab societies. The Arab world holds a significant percentage of oil and gas reserves. However, these resources have not translated into development.

In the Arab regimes where some of the least qualified people are governing, disputes are often settled with guns, diversity of opinion is condemned, and monarchs and dictators rule with impunity.

Arabists and the frustrated masses should direct their anger toward their tyrannical leaders and not to the US and the Western world.

On the contrary, these Arab people should embrace Western values of freedom, meritocracy, and respect of the law as steps toward ending dictatorships.
Zerougui Abdelkader
Adjunct professor, American University

Require Iraqis to serve Iraq

Regarding the Nov. 17 article, "Now, how to put Iraqis in charge": How do you start to fix the situation in Iraq? By building a patriotic feeling in the young people of Iraq. A good starting place for this would be the formation of a selective service board. Every young man and woman would be required to register for the draft. They would be required to serve until the country is stabilized.

The US should help Iraqis build camps to train these new recruits. Sunnis, Shiites, and other groups would live and train together – no separation. The US can teach them that they, the Iraqis, are the saviors of Iraq. Iraqis must do the job!
Bernard M. Tasselmyer
Lewiston, N.Y.

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