Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

September 10, 2004

Dropping bombs only multiplies terrorists' ranks

Walter E. Williams, an economics professor, imagines that we can suppress international terrorism by raining destruction down on countries that harbor terrorists ("Appeasement path leads only to disaster," Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 3). But are we going to bomb Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, two of our friends that still harbor large numbers of radical Islamic fundamentalists?

Economists are known for being cut off from the real world, but Mr. Williams should at least understand basic laws of supply and demand. And our invasion of Iraq has created a new supply of Islamic fundamentalists who are willing to die fighting against our troops. If we bomb or invade more countries, we would only create millions more.

The Bush administration, for all its bluster, realizes how wrong-headed Mr. Williams' notions are. In Iraq, our forces have time and again pulled back from full-scale attacks against the Iraqi insurgents for political reasons, because they don't want to inflame the Iraqi and international Muslim populations even further.

We will not win the war on terrorism simply by going out and killing people. We must be smarter and, yes, more sensitive to the origins of the motivations of the terrorists - and cut them off at that point.

The source of terrorism is not governments but ideologies. We should be fighting those ideologies, not the poor kids from the slums of Sadr City who are now insurgents.

Rollin Olson

Baltimore

Walter E. Williams attacks appeasers who don't exist.

The issue is not appeasing terrorists, but finding them, and developing worldwide investigative efforts to eradicate terrorist cells in many countries. Conventional warfare, waged pre-emptively on false pretenses, has taken us dangerously off course. And killing thousands of innocents to "show them the kind of destruction we're prepared to rain down upon them," to quote Mr. Williams, has sown bitter seeds of future conflict and helped Osama bin Laden recruit a new generation of terrorists.

Hitting back indiscriminately to show how tough we are has cost us human and material treasure, intensified terrorist acts and diminished our standing in the world.

Carlton E. Spitzer

Easton

Faulty intelligence misdirects our fight

The author of "Appeasement path leads only to disaster" (Opinion

Commentary, Sept. 3) suggests that we were right to invade Iraq to prove our seriousness about fighting terror because history (specifically World War II) shows that appeasement is ineffective.

This argument would make more sense if actual links had been established between Saddam Hussein and al-Qaida.

Our stated reason for going into Iraq - that Iraq was developing weapons of mass destruction - was based on faulty intelligence. And thousands of American troops and Iraqis have died because of that mistake.

If we didn't want to appease Iraq, we should have made absolutely sure that we had our facts straight before invading.

Cathy Kunkel

Ellicott City

Do the dead disturb president's sleep?

Under President Bush's watch, more than 1,000 U.S. soldiers, as well as thousands of innocent civilians, have been killed in Iraq ("U.S. military deaths climb beyond 1,000," Sept. 8). Thousands more have been maimed.

One wonders how he can sleep at night.

Geraldine Segal

Randallstown

Selling weapons just fuels violence

Why would the U.S. Department of Defense Security Cooperation Agency approve the proposed sale of 20 of the newest type of Patriot missile to Japan to improve that country's defense against ballistic missiles? Where is the evidence for the need ("Lockheed may sell 20 Patriot missiles to Japanese," Sept. 8)?

I think a case can be made that the ill-advised selling of arms to other nations has a direct, causal relationship with their unnecessary use throughout the world.

Yielding to the wishes of the defense contractors is analogous to yielding to pressures from gun manufacturers and the National Rifle Association, which want to sell weapons such as assault rifles to just about anyone with the money to buy.

And, in some cases, in dealing with nations, we have a history of actually subsidizing the purchase of weapons of war in the false hope that such actions will win us friends and make the world more secure.

The time has come to regulate arms sales at all levels. Patriot missiles are unlikely to be any more effective than the ill-conceived Patriot Act.

Will we ever learn?

Robert G. Smith

Chestertown

Accepting adultery betrays moral divide

Worthy of note, although regrettably not astonishing, in the musings on contemporary morality by Leonard Pitts Jr., was that Kobe Bryant's cheating on his wife was merely accepted without comment ("The moral of the Kobe Bryant story," Opinion * Commentary, Sept. 7).

While the possible unacceptability of a male celebrity role model treating a female teenager "like candy in a candy store" was hinted at, nowhere did the writer come close to criticizing admitted extramarital sex per se.

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