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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.
Nick Gatsoulis
New York City

It is interesting to contemplate — and not difficult to imagine — just how high up in the Pakistani government and military establishment Khan’s allies are. Khan was too hot to handle, so even making him the fall guy for selling Pakistan’s nuclear secrets was out of the question. Instead, President Pervez Musharraf pardoned Khan and put him under house arrest in his sumptuous villa. This for an act of treason so blatant and outrageous that it has few parallels in any nation, authoritarian or not. Khan’s pardon was part of a cover-up.
Rama Prem
Freiburg, Germany

Khan has confessed to leaking Pakistan’s nuclear secrets to Iran, Libya and North Korea. The startling revelation that he may also have provided nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, Egypt and other African countries has raised many questions about Pakistan’s involvement. The sale and trading of illicit technology and nuclear-bomb materials would not have been possible without the consent and complicity of Pakistan’s political and military establishment. Given Khan’s greed, it is quite possible that some nuclear secrets may have reached terrorist groups like al-Qaeda.
Srinivasan Balakrishnan
Jamshedpur, India

Your story described how Khan’s global smuggling network sold nuclear materials. I am not defending Khan, but I must point out that the U.S. has the largest arsenal of nuclear weapons and is the only country to have used them on human beings. In the process of removing Saddam Hussein, the U.S. showered conventional bombs on Iraq, killing innocent citizens. The torturing of prisoners in Abu Ghraib was another heinous crime. So it is hypocritical for Americans to condemn Khan when it is the U.S. that has lost the confidence and trust of the world.
Nizar Ali

TIME‘s reporting on Khan’s dangerous game of selling nuclear technology reminded me how vitally the world needs a global nuclear-nonproliferation policy. But the credibility of the nuclear powers in limiting the spread of the Bomb is hampered by their inaction in pursuing disarmament. Even worse, the U.S.’s plan to design a new generation of nuclear arms deprives Bush’s government of any moral leadership in the nuclear-nonproliferation campaign. Khan’s nefarious transactions made the world a more dangerous place; the development of smarter bombs by the U.S. would do the same thing.
Peter Schoch
Meisterschwanden, Switzerland

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, Florida, U.S.

Under its current neoconservative Administration, the U.S. doesn’t have the strength of mind to defuse anything. So far, all George W. Bush has achieved is to create more terrorists by bombing Iraq and torturing detainees in military prisons. Bush may already have contingency plans for bombing Iran, an act that would further inflame the Middle East and foment violent anti-American feeling around the world. My hope is that a very strong, united Europe will provide a bulwark against American hegemony. If the U.S. doesn’t stop throwing its weight around, the world will sooner or later lose patience and go elsewhere for the goods, services and diplomatic skills that we in Europe can readily supply.
Michael D. Mitchell
Spalding, England

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 and supplies for prisoners. The abuses and atrocities committed at Abu Ghraib must continue to be reported to the American public. U.S. citizens need to demand an accounting and restitution by our highest officials.
Karen A. Netwal
St. Paul, Minnesota, U.S.

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, California, U.S.

The Cost of Iraq’s Elections
Some observers think the triumph of the Iraqi elections was not heralded as it should have been here in the U.S. or in Europe [Feb. 14]. People who think like that 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. The U.S. has a President who changes the script as he goes along.
Sybil J. Hinkle
Napa, California, U.S.

Although war is never without pain and suffering, we Americans 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 and making the world a safer place for us all.
Len Murtha
Glen Allen, Virginia, U.S.

The Iraqi elections were a triumph. Having reservations about this milestone and what is to come next, however, has nothing to do with partisan politics and everything to do with being realistic. A free election is no miracle cure for an Iraq that has become a haven for numerous terrorist factions. We cannot ignore the fact that the world has become a more dangerous place since the U.S. invasion.
Kara Stahl

The newly elected Iraqi government should represent all of Iraq’s people. Its first actions should be to help the Sunnis and to rebuild Fallujah, which was destroyed by U.S. forces. Hospitals, schools, mosques and homes need to be constructed.
Tony Passarelli
Nottingham, England

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 fuzzy math and unsubstantiated claims, fighting against his agenda might be a good thing.
Carolyn Sieber
Dayton, Ohio, U.S.

Klein’s disapproval of the Democrats’ carping at Bush’s State of the Union address hit the nail right on the head. I am a Republican, and although I believe in many of the positions that 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 in order 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 way. The Republicans are doers, and the Democrats are complainers. The Dems need to change if they want to have any sort of a future.
Andrew Flinn
Kenton, Ohio, U.S.

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