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Letters: Mar. 7, 2005

7 minute read

The Merchant of Menace

THE PERILOUS SITUATION CREATED BY THE weapons peddling of nuclear expert A.Q. Khan cannot be ignored [Feb. 14]. Pakistan’s nuclear technology appears to be the common factor in tracing the history of equipment found in Libya, Iran and North Korea. That is evidence of a clear breach of law and a real alliance of evil. In this age of nuclear weaponry, new lines must be drawn in the sand. If diplomacy and inspections fail, a multilateral military solution might be the only viable way to avert catastrophe.


KHAN’S SALE OF NUCLEAR SECRETS AND A complicit Pakistani government have made the world a ticking time bomb. That smuggling operation took place under the nose of the CIA and other global-intelligence agencies. But what country did President Bush go after for hiding weapons of mass destruction? Iraq, a Middle Eastern country that didn’t have the Bomb. Given that track record, there is no reason to feel confident that Khan is safely under house arrest in Islamabad.

LARRY DENNISON – Port Townsend, Wash.

KHAN’S ACTIONS HAVE RAISED MANY questions about Pakistan’s involvement. The illicit dealing in nuclear-bomb materials would not have been possible without the complicity of Pakistan’s political and military establishment. And it seems quite possible that some nuclear secrets may even have reached al-Qaeda.


NO MATTER HOW THE WEST LABELS HIM, Khan is a hero to millions of Pakistanis and the Muslim customers of his nuclear bazaar. If he had decided in his heart that the glory of Islam lies in having Muslim nations become powerful nuclear states, then he undoubtedly would have gone the last possible mile in selling his wares.

IRUM SARFARAZ – Pleasanton, Calif.

TO LIMIT NUCLEAR PROLIFERATION, THE U.S. must pursue with equal diligence all nations, friend or foe, that are developing atomic weapons. Otherwise the message is that our friends can get away with anything. To this day, the U.S. has a hard time publicly discussing Israel’s nuclear weapons, let alone trying to put a stop to them. It should not come as a shock that other nations in the Middle East are trying to build nuclear devices.

JEFF SIDDIQUI – Lynnwood, Wash.

Who Can Defuse the U.S.?

TIME REPORTED THAT AMERICA IS TRYING to persuade Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions in “Can the U.S. Defuse Iran?” [Feb. 14]. But the real question is not whether the U.S. can defuse Iran but whether the world can disarm the U.S., the world’s No. 1 nuclear power.

JAMES BUTLER – Stuart, Fla.

The Loyal Opposition

COLUMNIST JOE KLEIN’S “THE INCREDIble Shrinking Democrats” [Feb. 14] was way off the mark. He criticized congressional Democrats for doing what they’ve been elected to do–act as an opposition party. The last thing they should do is shrink from the task. Our system of government absolutely requires that there be questioning. Bush does not have a mandate, and Democrats need to remind him of that every day. Klein accuses Democrats of wanting to preserve the past rather than discover the future. But when the future is envisioned by a President who bases his plans on unsubstantiated claims, fighting against his agenda might be a good thing.


KLEIN HIT THE NAIL RIGHT ON THE HEAD. I am a Republican, and though I believe in many of the positions the Democratic Party supports, I think it is out of touch with the majority of voters. For too long the party has held on to old issues. It needs to reform itself to survive in this new era. And Democrats need to see and accept achievement when it occurs. Many people where I live feel the same as I do. The Republicans are doers, and the Democrats are complainers. The Dems need to change if they want to have any sort of future.

ANDREW FLINN – Kenton, Ohio

HAS KLEIN BEEN HIJACKED BY REPUBLIcan interests? He has spent a great deal of energy excoriating Bush’s policies on foreign and domestic fronts, but suddenly he seems to be overcome by a wave of recompense. Klein’s take on the President’s State of the Union speech as “striking” seems at odds with his critique of Bush’s Inaugural Address, which alluded to “petulant idealism” [Jan. 31]. The Democrats’ lack of optimism is owing at least in part to those specifics of foreign policy that Klein has criticized in his columns, namely Bush’s arrogance abroad and crony capitalism at home as well as the faulty reasons for going to war and the lack of an exit strategy for Iraq.

JOHN SIMONDS – West Sand Lake, N.Y.

Physician-Assisted Abuse

“THE ABU GHRAIB SCANDAL YOU DON’T Know” described how the prison’s medical system became an “instrument of abuse, by design and by neglect” [Feb. 14]. It is inexcusable that the U.S. did not provide adequate medical services for prisoners. The abuses and atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib must continue to be reported. U.S. citizens need to demand an accounting as well as restitution by our highest officials.

KAREN A. NETWAL – St. Paul, Minn.

IN PAST WARS, ENEMY SOLDIERS WOULD surrender readily to our forces because they knew we treated prisoners decently. At the end of World War II, for example, German troops would surrender to Americans to avoid falling into the hands of Russians, who might have imprisoned them in distant camps from which they might never return. Now the U.S.’s enemies will certainly think twice before surrendering, choosing instead to fight to the death while taking with them as many Americans as possible.

RICHARD HORNBY – Pasadena, Calif.

THE U.S. WENT TO IRAQ TO STOP THE abuse and humiliation Iraqis were receiving at the hands of Saddam Hussein. The U.S. doesn’t condone prison atrocities and inhuman conditions. As an American, I want to apologize for the torture and maltreatment of Iraqi prisoners.


An Underhyped Election?

IN “WHY IT DESERVES THE HYPE,” COLUMnist Charles Krauthammer argued that the triumph of the Iraqi elections is not being heralded as it should be here in the U.S. or in Europe [Feb. 14]. Krauthammer wrote, “The U.S. may not be the world’s most artful liberator. But it is hard to think of a more sincere one.” Krauthammer and people who think like him just don’t get it. Were the American people asked to liberate Iraq and support a fledgling democracy there at a cost in lives and dollars that may be unbearable? I thought we invaded to protect ourselves from weapons of mass destruction. We have a President who changes the script as he goes along.

SYBIL J. HINKLE – Napa, Calif.

KRAUTHAMMER’S ESSAY ECHOED THE thoughts of many Americans. Although war is never without pain and suffering, we realized after 9/11 that we had better start addressing the problems of the Middle East. In response to 9/11, the U.S. government went after individuals in Afghanistan and Iraq who were connected to terrorist activity. The result has been to bring insurgents to justice and to foster the emergence of two fledgling democracies. The free elections in those countries will perhaps inspire others to follow, thus spreading democracy.

LEN MURTHA – Glen Allen, Va.

IT ISN’T THAT THOSE OF US WHO WERE against the war aren’t happy that the elections in Iraq came off so well. Who wouldn’t share the joy of the Iraqis, with their inked fingers and elated smiles? But the real question is, Was it worth the lives of almost 1,500 Americans and the wounding of over 10,000 others? The answer is no.

CINDY BONNER – Yorktown, Texas

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