Letters to the Editor
Readers write about summer jobs, benchmarks and permanent US bases in Iraq, US foreign exchange programs, and the enmity between Turkey and Kurdish populations.
Summer jobs once filled by teens now go to immigrants
Regarding the June 12 article, "Why teens have a tough time finding summer work": I believe, as the article briefly mentioned, that a vast group of people who are taking the teens' summer jobs are legal and illegal immigrants.
As a teen, I worked in restaurants as a busboy and a dishwasher. Now when I go to restaurants, I generally see Latin Americans in these positions.
I also worked in the maintenance department at a golf course. At the last course I played, I saw a posting for my same job, paying $3.50 less per hour than I made seven years ago. Again, I blame unfettered immigration.
Perhaps the US government needs to stop telling us about the jobs we don't want to do and protect the jobs we have available to be filled by our youth.
Crucial Iraq-war questions
Regarding the June 12 article, "US signals permanent stay in Iraq": I am a little surprised by media statements that the US is planning to stay in Iraq for decades to come. How can the present US administration make such a statement? First, doesn't a long-term occupation policy depend on what the American people, the US Congress, and future US presidents want and decide to do? Will the American people accept the continued killing or maiming of their sons and daughters?
Second, what about the Iraqi government? It may request the United Nations not to renew and extend the foreign occupation beyond the December deadline. Can the UN ignore such a request? Can we even still regard Iraq as a sovereign nation? These are important and relevant questions that should be addressed.
Tom Van Meurs
Christchurch, New Zealand
In Iraq, a longer view of the future
Regarding the May 7 article, "US benchmarks for Iraq may be hazy": What isn't mentioned in the article is that Iraqis often think in terms of centuries while we Americans tend to think in terms of months.
This is a major disconnect between our two cultures, and this is one of many problems with the war.
What we see as lack of urgency on Iraqis' part may be seen by them as absurdly unrealistic expectations on our part.
Exchange programs burnish US image
In his June 6 Opinion column, "America's public diplomacy needs a boost," John Hughes rightly points out the importance of exchange programs that bring foreigners to our country. As we seek to improve the image of the United States overseas, we also need to encourage Americans to reach out and engage with people beyond our borders.
Exchange programs that send Americans overseas are central not only to our public diplomacy, but to our broader national security strategy. To strengthen our exchange programs, I have introduced the Global Service Fellowship Program Act. This bipartisan bill provides more Americans with the opportunity to volunteer overseas. By awarding fellowships that can be applied toward programmatic costs, the fellowship program opens the door for every American to be a participant.
Citizen diplomacy is one of the most important ways we can combat anti-American sentiment. Congress should encourage more Americans to take part in exchange programs, and the Global Service Fellowship Program Act does just that.
Democratic senator from Wisconsin
Seeking solutions to enmity between Turkey and Kurds
Regarding your June 12 editorial, "Turkey in Iraq? Don't even go there.":
Turkey has not forgotten the words of President Bush that "[you] are with us or against us." The question, then, is, does the US support terrorist activities against Turkey? If not, then perhaps your editorial should have been about what the US should do to stop Kurdish terrorism against its ally, Turkey.
The US should tell its new friends the Kurds, "You are either with my ally Turkey or against Turkey." The US should never try to discourage Turkey from fighting its enemy. In the short term this could be done. But what would happen when the whole nation of Turkey turned its back to the US?
The fact is, Turkey has never had ambitions to encroach on Iraq. We just say that Iraq must stay united, and we want to stop terrorist activities, as all countries do.
Your editorial about Turkey and Iraq says, "Precisely because it is allied with Turkey and the Iraqi Kurds, the US, more than anyone, is in a position to bring these two together and solve the PKK problem." The issue of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) is a result of more than 80 years of the Turkish Republic's racist and nearly genocidal policies against Kurds.
Claiming that the United States could solve this problem is irrational. Neither Kurds in Iraq, nor the US could solve the PKK problem. The only one with power to solve this problem is Turkey and nobody else.
The international community should put pressure on Turkey to solve its own problem and stop blaming others.
Erbil, Northern Iraq
Regarding your editorial about Turkey and Iraq: The Kurdish problem in Turkey is political, and it needs to be addressed peacefully. Excluding the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), all the other Kurdish organizations are seeking Kurdish recognition peacefully against many odds. A military option is not going to solve anything.
Turkey will have a legitimate concern over this whole issue only after it offers a just political solution to the Kurds. The absence of such a solution and the closing of political avenues available to the Kurds is driving Kurdish youth to stand against the state.
Regarding Iraqi Kurdistan, Turkey is using poor excuses to intervene to prevent the implementation of Article 140 of the Iraqi Constitution concerning Kirkuk and the designation of a Kurdish region. (Kurds, however, are declaring their commitment to the constitutional process.) Turkey also is openly stating it would stand against Kurdish gains in Iraq. This is antagonizing Kurds everywhere against Turkey.
The cost-benefit formula in this equation is not in favor of Turkey if it chooses to cross the Iraqi border on a massive scale. Turkey's best option is to stage a peaceful dialogue with Kurds and to recognize the Kurdish reality in northern Iraq. Turkey will benefit from this on several fronts such as those concerning democracy, EU membership, and consolidation of ties with the US.
Eamad J. Mazouri
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