Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 18, 2006

U.S. inaction adds fuel to Mideast fire

Along with many people in Israel and Lebanon, we should condemn Hezbollah for igniting the recent conflict and condemn Syria and Iran for any support they have given the Lebanese militant group ("Latest conflict splits Arab world," July 17).

But we must also notice how U.S. inaction, in failing to support the call of the Lebanese government for a cease-fire, is contributing to the crisis.

This stance represents a shift from past American behavior.

In previous instances when war broke out between Israel and its neighbors or when Israel felt compelled to launch retaliatory invasions outside its borders, U.S. administrations (both Republican and Democratic) eventually sought to advance the American interest in regional stability by containing the conflict through a cease-fire and negotiations.

While many have suggested the United States may have given Israel a "yellow light" when it invaded Lebanon in 1982, the U.S. eventually sought to help negotiate a limit to Israel's destruction of Lebanon.

Today, in contrast, the Bush administration seems to be sending out mostly "green light" signals.

But is it really in the U.S. interest to risk the breakdown of order in Lebanon after Syrian troops have finally been forced to leave that country?

Moreover, it's unclear if this excessive use of force will really gain Israel the security it deserves.

It is clear, however, that these actions will mobilize populations and militant groups across the region who most fervently reject Israel while putting yet more strain on those who struggle to make the case for peaceful coexistence.

Waleed Hazbun

Baltimore

The writer is a professor of political science at the Johns Hopkins University.

Right to self-defense should be very clear

Why are we even discussing, let alone debating, the appropriateness of Israel's response to attacks by Hamas, the freely elected sitting government of the Palestinian Authority that still vows to obliterate Israel, and Hezbollah, a "legitimate" minority constituent of the Lebanese parliament and holder of two of its ministry portfolios ("Latest conflict splits Arab world," July 17)?

How would any sovereign nation respond if its territory were invaded and its citizens taken hostage?

What would the United States do if it were attacked by Mexico and Canada?

How did England react when Argentina invaded its territory? What about Iran's response in 1980 and Kuwait's in 1991 to being invaded by Iraq?

What must happen before the world recognizes that organizations such as Hamas and Hezbollah should have no place in any government or, for that matter, on the face of this Earth?

Samuel Zygler

Baltimore

World attacks Israel for fighting back

Since 1948, when Israel became a state, the Arab countries surrounding it have attacked it, have sent suicide bombers to kill its innocent men, women and children, have boycotted it, have consistently condemned it in the United Nations and have never given Israel a moment's peace ("Rockets kill eight in Haifa," July 17).

When Israel tries to fight back, the world as a whole condemns it.

I wonder how some of these countries criticizing Israel would react to what Israel has had to live with.

Irv Distenfeld

Baltimore

Can Chirac condone nabbing nationals?

In Saturday's Sun, President Jacques Chirac of France condemned Israel's excursions into Gaza and Lebanon as acts of aggression ("`Open war' on Israel," July 15).

He needs to open his eyes: Israel did not initiate the aggression in either situation. It is making incursions into bordering countries to recover citizens (who are also soldiers) kidnapped by Arab terrorists.

I wonder if Mr. Chirac would take a similar stance if some of his soldiers were kidnapped?

John Miller

Timonium

Peace plan seems to misfire badly

It's so nice to see that the president's plan to bring peace and stability to the Middle East by fostering democracy in Iraq is finally bearing fruit ("Rockets kill eight in Haifa," July 17).

Carl Aron

Catonsville

Air marshal service adjusts as it grows

As a result of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Federal Air Marshal Service expanded from fewer than 50 civil aviation security specialists to a force of thousands of federal law enforcement officers ("Blowing the whistle on air marshals' blown cover," Opinion

Commentary, July 13).

As with any agency that has experienced unprecedented growth, we rapidly established policies and procedures necessary to perform our vital mission of aviation security, recognizing that those policies require review and coordination with industry and government partners, as the organization matures and evolves.

As the new director of the Federal Air Marshal Service, I am communicating with and responding to its workforce.

The service has created 14 employee working groups, including support personnel, supervisors and air marshals.

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