Regarding the March 9 article, "Iran's successful blend: charity, ideology": Thank you for enlightening me about the Imam Khomeini Relief Foundation. I have often wondered about this charity.
When I travel to Iran every year, I poke around to learn about aspects of life that many of my prosperous fellow expatriates in the West do not like to discuss, including the generous welfare-state programs that explain the reason, for example, that, on average, more women than men support the government in Iran.
I find that because Iran's liberal opposition is largely against state subsidies and favors deregulation, the concepts of political "left" and "right" are unhelpful in analyzing the country's governing structure.
If more Americans had regular access to straightforward news articles such as this one, fewer would have been surprised about the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and President Ahmadinejad's election in 2005. But I am saddened that the so-called crisis about Iran's nuclear program and the legitimate concerns about women's rights and press freedom are deflecting attention from the creeping privatization of industries and social services in Iran.
In response to Fred Weir's March 8 article, "Russian bid to counter Western criticism": I have to stand up to the allegation that the magazine Russia Profile carries "offerings on the good job [Russian President Vladimir] Putin is doing in the world and next to nothing on things like the conflict in Chechnya or the murder of government critics." Unfortunately, the facts have been tweaked in an apparent attempt to simplify the story for readers.
We have never hidden our connection with state-owned RIA-Novosti news and features agency, and I consider foreign-oriented media to be one of the few areas of media activity where government funding is justified.
But due to the integrity of Russia Profile journalists and the buffer between us and the government, we have enjoyed full editorial independence.
Any unbiased reader should simply browse the archive on our website (www.russiaprofile.org) to see critical articles on Chechnya, the murders of journalists in Russia, and other contentious issues. Some of them were written by our international staff, others by distinguished guest experts.
As far as Russia's foreign policy is concerned, we are not transfixed on Mr. Putin's "good job" but have concentrated on many challenges that Russia is facing in the world – an attitude for which we have been criticized by some Russian officials.
Andrei Zolotov Jr.
Editor and publisher, Russia Profile
Editor's note: Mr. Weir's original characterization of Russia Profile (RP) was modified during the editing process. In fact, RP publishes a broad range of articles and viewpoints, including on Chechnya and other controversial issues.
In response to the March 8 article, "The Afghan guard who stops suicide bombers": Thanks for the inspiring article about "Rambo" protecting the US soldiers. Our son is at the United States Air Force Academy and will be serving our country in active duty in a couple of years. It's great to hear about a positive relationship between military personnel and local people.
Huntington Beach, Calif.
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.