Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of December 27, 2010

Readers write in about the motivations of suicide terrorists, the term 'conservative,' the price of parenting – and grandparenting, and the victimization of soldiers.

Terrorist motives

Robert Pape's Dec. 13 commentary, "What really drives suicide terrorists?", struck me as a study of details designed to support beliefs held beforehand. Mr. Pape talks about 2,200 suicide attacks around the world as if they were individual acts of suicidal violence "to resist the foreign occupation of land they prize."

Rather, most of these individuals were recruited, guided, and abetted by organizations with far greater geopolitical motives than removing foreign "occupiers." If it were only as simple as he opines.

Roland Martin

Carmel, Calif.

Mr. Pape's exploration of what really motivates suicide terrorists looks at the present geopolitical situation, but neglects history. In Karen Armstrong's book "Islam: A Short History," she points out that history is to Muslims as theology is to Christians.

Witness the centuries-old hostility between Sunnis and Shiites over the true successor to the prophet. Or consider Muslims' memory of the Crusades. The memories of these issues are as strong today as are feelings about Western powers in Muslim lands, if not stronger. We shouldn't underestimate the influence of history on the present.

Thomas A. Huff


Conservatism redefined

Michael Laser's Opinion piece "Conservatives vs. liberals: Neither side owns the truth" (Dec. 6) reminds me: We need a more historically accurate political vocabulary. He continues the tradition in America of mislabeling the promotion of the free-market system, with a limited role for government and emphasis on individual liberty, as conservatism.

The Republican agenda should really be identified as "market liberalism." The true meaning of the term conservatism has been lost, and most schools no longer explore the term's historical basis.

Chet Bowers

Eugene, Ore.

Parenting costs not apparent

Regarding the Dec. 6 cover story, "The price of parenthood": What about the price of grandparenthood? Parents aren't the only ones caught up in this maelstrom. Especially in this economy, we grandparents are also doing our share of spending for savings accounts for college educations, trips to concerts and museums, health expenses, and other, unexpected needs.

Hildegard Warner


Gifts for soldiers

I appreciate Thomas W. Young's commentary (Dec. 13), "We're soldiers, not victims." [Americans] have been wonderful about sending things to soldiers in the field to make their lives easier. But I worry we risk making these soldiers look like victims when we only send things to make them comfortable, not the things soldiers ask for to help their mission.

John Stettler


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