Letters to the Editor

Readers write about US withdrawal from Iraq, nationality in hockey, and balancing sports with academics.

Withdrawal from Iraq would increase sectarian fighting

Regarding Monica Duffy Toft's June 2 Opinion piece, "Why Islam lies at the heart of Iraq's civil war": Clearly Ms. Toft is informed as to the Islamic factions, but extrapolates from them in ways that are not justified. She states that "withdrawal is likely to transform the fighting in Iraq into a defensive struggle for power in a nation-state, as opposed to an offensive battle rooted in religion." Withdrawal will exacerbate the religious conflict because Iraqis have no other basis than religion for organizing a society.

Secularism was imposed upon the Iraqi people by Saddam Hussein and the Baath Party. The average Iraqi has no loyalty or impulse toward that form of nation-state.

We are trying to show, through demonstration and persuasion, the unique advantages of a democratic representative republic, with separation of religion and state, in ameliorating traditional conflicts between tribal and religious factions.

She also states, "The withdrawal of US forces would allow Iraq's predominantly Arab Shiites and Sunnis to find common interest in opposing their two more classical historical adversaries: Kurds and Persians": The Kurds are not a serious threat to the Sunnis, much less the far more populous Shiites.

Premature withdrawal will ensure a brief religious civil war ending in Iraq's becoming a client state of Iran.

Geoffrey Britain
Ventura, Calif.

Regarding Monica Duffy Toft's recent Opinion piece on Iraq's civil war: I was glad to see the piece. On June 28, 2004, President Bush announced that Iraq is now a sovereign country.

What is troubling to me and, I assume, to numerous other Americans, is that the Bush administration cannot match its declarations with its deeds.

I see no reason to finance another country's existence with American taxpayers' money.

Tim Anderson
Fresno, Calif.

Hockey skill matters more than roots

Regarding the May 30 article, "'Swedish Seven' win hearts of Detroit's hockey faithful": As a longtime Red Wings fan, I appreciated your article on the Detroit Red Wings and their Swedish players. However, at the same time I found it a bit strange.

That the Wings wouldn't be in the playoffs without their Swedish players is probably true, but is it any more true than saying the Pittsburgh Penguins wouldn't be in the playoffs without their Canadian players? Take starting skaters off any hockey team and see if that team makes the playoffs.

Jeff Barrons
Shanghai, China

Division III sports are balanced

In response to your May 22 editorial, "A cost to sports 'edu-tainment'": I agree with the problems at National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division I schools. Fortunately however, most young men and women, as NCAA statistics will bring out, do not play college sports at the Division I level, but at the Division III level, where the sports programs are kept in perspective, are cost-effective and an important part of campus life, and where the student-athletes are not on athletic scholarships.

Unfortunately, when most people think of college sports, they think of big-time Division I scholarship sports because of all the media attention and hype, while a large majority of students in higher education play Division III sports out of the limelight.

There is a problem in Division I athletics, but fortunately most student-athletes are not a part of it and do get good educations.

Seth Johnson
Falmouth, Maine

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 may appear in print or on our website, www.csmonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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