January's question asked if...

QUESTION OF THE MONTH

January 26, 2002

QUESTION OF THE MONTH

January's question asked if readers U.S. military action against Iran, Iraq, Syria or other countries accused of supporting or harboring terrorists.

Rethink policies fostering terror

No, we should not initiate any further military action against Iraq, Iran or Syria.

For the past 10 years, the United States has maintained a military presence over southern Iraq.

Furthermore, the United States continues to support incredibly harsh United Nations sanctions against Iraq that have destroyed the country's infrastructure but failed to achieve the demise of Saddam Hussein's regime.

Military action is not the answer to problems in the Middle East.

But the question of the month demonstrates irresponsibility by The Sun, which is indicative of the misunderstanding and misrepresentation of the issues surrounding Arab nations and some predominantly Muslim nations.

The Taliban regime was an extremist Muslim government that distorted Islam to further its own political agenda.

The countries of Syria and Iraq have governments that condemn Islamic extremists.

Diplomatic solutions must be found to address differences between nations. We have learned that terror inherently breeds a cycle of escalating terror.

More important, why was Israel not listed as a country that practices state-sponsored terror?

Palestinians are experiencing the most severe colonial occupation in the 21st century.

Palestinian lives and homes are lost everyday, while our government supports this terror and financially enables it with billions of dollars of loans to Israel every year.

Our foreign policy should look at the alienation of the Arab world because of Israel's state-sponsored terrorism.

The Sun should ask us, as American taxpayers, why we allow for our government to financially support such terror.

Issam Essa Cheikh, Baltimore

The writer is president of the Arab-American Club of Maryland.

Before we target particular nations for harboring or supporting terrorists, should we not define terrorist?

Is a terrorist merely a militant organization that disagrees with the interests of the United States? Are there not terrorists in Spain, Ireland, Japan and Central America? Would not others call these people freedom fighters?

Is the United States prepared to take military against Spain because of the presence of the ETA?

As absurd as that notion is, Spain - like Syria - has condemned terrorism but has militant nationalists within its borders, so should we not be evenhanded in our condemnation?

And is not Israel practicing state-sponsored terrorism against Palestinians?

As a nation, the United States cannot respond to terror with our own brand of violent terror. That only further alienates the masses who suffer from our military actions. We must condemn violence in every nation, and we must not take military action ourselves.

As Americans, we need to examine the discord that creates terrorists. We need to help fill the power vacuums that breed extremism.

We need to look at the Middle East as more than just a threat to our ally, Israel. We need to condemn Israel's use of terror.

Ultimately, we must take decisive action to rethink our American foreign policy.

Yara Ann DeBrabander, Towson

My dictionary defines terrorism as "the systematic use of terror as a means of coercion." What countries in our present world use, or have used, terror?

I would argue that the people of Afghanistan have suffered extreme fear both from the Taliban and from our bombing.

And if bombing causes extreme fear, it's worth noting that the United States, since 1947, has bombed Panama, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Cuba, Grenada, Yugoslavia, Bosnia, Sudan, Iraq, Libya, China, Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Somalia, Lebanon, Belgian Congo, Vietnam and Afghanistan.

Maybe "terrorism" is in the eye of the beholder.

Would our using our military to go into Iraq, Iran or Syria stop terrorism or increase it?

Lloyd P. Tyler, Cockeysville

Confront terrorists, wherever they hide

I firmly believe that we should go after Iraq, Iran and Syria. We may have to take action against Saudi Arabia also. The previous administration did nothing to stop terrorism. Now it is obvious we must see this through, no matter how long it may take.

It is well known that Iraq has biological and chemical weapons. There is no doubt that they, or some of their allies, will use them. And Iran is working hard on nuclear weapons. It would use them in a heartbeat against Israel. As far as our so-called friends the Saudis, they have for years protected all sorts of anti-American terrorists.

If we do not act, the situation will only get worse. And now that we have started, we must finish the job.

Thank goodness that George W. Bush is the president.

Douglas B. Doty, Forest Hill

Now that the Taliban regime in Afghanistan has collapsed, I definitely favor preparation for U.S. military action against Iraq, Iran, Syria or other states that harbor terrorists or support terrorism.

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