Funding terror isn't the policy of Saudi Arabia It is...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

August 22, 2002

Funding terror isn't the policy of Saudi Arabia

It is interesting to see the right join the left in condemning Saudi Arabia's ne'er-do-well dynasty ("The truth is out: Saudi `friends' are enemies," Opinion Commentary, Aug. 14, and other articles) and I have no desire to gainsay the criticism. The hysterical tone of much of this criticism is so ridiculous, however, as to require some comment.

Comparing Saudi Wahhabism to communism is laughable. Cal Thomas should recall that Wahhabism is a marginal school of Islamic law and theology, both philosophically and numerically.

Furthermore, there is nothing surreptitious about Wahhabi proselytizing. It is not carried out under "cover," and its aim is not "to undermine the United States from within" or "to turn America into an Islamic state by force," as Mr. Thomas claims.

Wahhabis hope to acquaint others (including Americans) with their vision of the truth. Are right-wing Christians (or Republican secularists, for that matter) so doubtful about their own religious and political convictions that they cannot stand a rhetorical challenge from the Wahhabis? Of course not. But Wahhabi-baiting is politically useful, as red-baiting was in an earlier era.

There are Wahhabi terrorists such as Osama bin Laden, just as there are right-wing, American terrorists such as Timothy McVeigh. But one has no more right to conclude that all Wahhabis are terrorists than to conclude that all right-wing Americans are terrorists.

The same goes for the Saudi dynasty. And just because some members of that family give funds to Islamic groups who may funnel monies to persons we label terrorists is no indication that funneling cash to terrorists is the policy of the government of Saudi Arabia.

Peter D. Molan

Baltimore

The writer is a retired Middle East analyst for the Department of Defense.

Slowing the rush to war with Iraq

I was relieved to read that some cooler heads in the Republican Party are not eager to move precipitously into Iraq ("Top GOP figures dissent over Iraq," Aug. 16).

Despite the "moral case" theory advanced by the national security adviser, it would seem to me the better part of wisdom to heed Secretary of State Colin L. Powell's wish to slow the rush to war, particularly in view of the fact there is little support among our allies for such action.

The specter of another Vietnam War is frightening, particularly as we haven't finished the job in Afghanistan.

Velva Grebe

Towson

Franz Kafka reportedly said that World War I was caused by a monstrous failure of imagination.

Now National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice has said we have no choice but to remove Saddam Hussein.

No choice? We have infinite choices. It has been estimated that a war against Iraq could cost as much as $75 billion. And Brent Scowcroft, a former national security adviser, has warned against a possible Armageddon.

It is essential that those in the Bush administration who are advocating war use their imaginations.

Stanley L. Rodbell

Columbia

The city should sell Fort Smallwood Park

I read with interest The Sun's article on Fort Smallwood Park, which is owned by Baltimore but located in Anne Arundel County ("Officials try to hold the fort," Aug. 12).

While Fort Smallwood could be a wonderful park, it is in deplorable shape and has been for many years. There is no reasonable prospect that the city will ever have the necessary money to restore it.

Why then is the city reluctant to sell the property to Anne Arundel County, which probably has the funds to restore it?

After all, city residents could still use the park on the same basis, but the city would be free of the maintenance responsibilities.

With so many parks in Baltimore in need of repair and attention, why does the city insist on holding onto a white elephant outside the city limits?

Joseph A. Schwartz III

Baltimore

Rebuilding families key to city's renewal

Thank you for presenting details of the terrible deterioration taking place in some Baltimore neighborhoods ("Challenging poverty," editorial, Aug. 18).

However, the plain fact is that no amount of rehabilitation in these areas is apt to be effective until the basic family unit in these areas is rehabbed. We need to build neighborhoods based on a family structure of fathers and mothers who live together and raise their children to become mature and well-educated.

City and state leaders have apparently turned their back on the need to re-establish the family unit that was responsible for the growth and success of our society. But it's time to return to it. Nothing else is likely to bring success.

Franklin W. Littleton

Baltimore

To some, reparations seem like a free ride

At the risk of being labeled a racist, I am completely against reparations for slavery ("Rally urges reparations for slavery," Aug. 18).

Slavery was horrendous, but it ended almost 150 years ago. I sincerely doubt that one person can come up and prove a direct injury because of the enslavement of an ancestor four or five generations ago.

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