Letters To The Editor


December 15, 2003

Mideast peace, democracy will curb the conflict

The Sun's excellent editorial "West Bank of the Tigris" (Dec. 10) was exactly right. Because of our ignorance of Islam and Islamic culture, the United States is ill-equipped to deal with the Iraqi people, and more than Arabic speakers will be needed to remedy that problem. And because this administration is unwilling to provide decisive leadership to end the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, its motives and intentions regarding Iraq and the Middle East are suspect.

To extricate itself from this madness, the United States must move quickly on two fronts. It must first resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict by either guaranteeing an outcome or imposing a solution.

Second, the people of Iraq must be allowed to vote freely for a constitutional assembly and, through that process, form their own government and govern themselves. We should invite the United Nations to help the people of Iraq do that.

The alternative is years of occupation and an accompanying war of attrition in which the United States will literally destroy Iraq in order to save it.

Fariborz S. Fatemi

McLean, Va.

The writer is a former staff member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Israeli tactics work to stop terrorists

The Sun's editorial "West Bank of the Tigris" (Dec. 10) draws a parallel between the tactics used by Israel's army and the U.S. Army in Iraq. Unfortunately, the United States has just begun to recognize what Israel has learned from bitter experience: Al-Qaida, Hamas and their ilk recognize no Geneva Conventions and do not honor war-time rules of engagement.

Terrorists shield themselves behind civilians, then cynically create capital from the pain of innocents. The U.S. Army is adopting Israel's tactics because they are working in rooting out terror while minimizing civilian casualties.

Only by isolating terrorists, disarming them and destroying their capacity to murder can our soldiers protect themselves, innocent Iraqis and, indeed, America itself.

If Iraq is surrendered to the rule of terror, it is merely a matter of time before the United States becomes yet another battlefield in a spreading, worldwide jihad.

Cronshi P. Englaner


Contract decision cuts cooperation

I see at least three problems with President Bush's decision to exclude non-coalition bidders from contracts to rebuild Iraq ("Reconstruction contracts in Iraq limited to U.S. allies," Dec. 10).

First, the excluded bidders may be those who could have done the best job for the money. The criterion of loyalty has been elevated above the criterion of being most competent to carry out the work.

Second, the decision clearly benefits corporations associated with members of the Bush administration (who are already viewed with suspicion by many) by eliminating some of their competition. The exclusion therefore looks like an excuse to allow these bidders a larger share of the pie.

Third, the decision is widely viewed as vindictive. Thus it does not encourage international cooperation.

Mean-spirited retribution by the United States against countries that opposed the invasion of Iraq decreases the likelihood that we will get cooperation from others when we need it in the future.

Charles Collyer


Negligence brings shame on city park

Because some dog owners ignored posted regulations and common-sense guidelines, our cash-strapped city is forced to help underwrite a costly project to correct serious health hazards at Robert E. Lee Park ("Unleashed dogs spoil a walk - and topsoil," Dec. 7).

The project involves not only removing tons of contaminated soil but also rebuilding a bridge so that the removal trucks will have access to what should now be called "The Peninsula of Shame."

As a parent who once enjoyed taking his young daughter and her friends to this scenic area for picnics and strolls, I felt particularly saddened by this news and by the year-and-a-half closing of the entire peninsula for the required cleanup.

Perhaps the closing period will provide an opportunity for the city to design a new plan to ensure a healthier park and for the negligent dog owners to gain a new measure of remorse and responsibility.

Charles J. Burk


Dog park provides civility and serenity

Dan Rodricks informs us that there are "too many people, too many dogs" at Robert E. Lee Park ("Unleashed dogs spoil a walk - and topsoil," Dec. 7).

How odd that he feels uneasy in a park where the level of civility is 100 percent. In this Baltimore park, the level of camaraderie, fellowship, good cheer, shared values, commonality of vision and community spirit are all at their best and brightest.

At Robert E. Lee Park, I exercise my dogs in silence, sharing Lake Roland's serenity with humans of every age and every color, taking part in the scene of dogs socializing and lapping in the fresh air.

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