Sir-- Can anyone explain American logic to me? George Bush says that Iraq is an immediate threat to America, and must be destroyed now. Bush also says that Iraq will be destroyed within one to three weeks with no more than 100 Americans killed in this war.
My question is the following: if it is that easy and quick to destroy Iraq, then Iraq is not a threat. Surely a threat would come from a country that is hard to destroy such as Israel or China.
Pre-emptive on trial
Sir-- You live in a small town in America and your neighbour across the street hates your guts. You suspect that he has weapons of singular destruction such as pistols, shotguns, rifles and knives. On several occasions he has stood in his yard, waved a fist at you and yelled, "One of these days I'm really gonna get you!" You become convinced that the man intends to do you serious bodily harm. Rather than wait for his attack, you take the initiative and attack him as he gets out of his truck in his driveway. You hit him several times with your fists. He runs into his house and calls the cops. They arrest you.
In court you tell the judge your side of the story and you finish your argument with this statement: "Your honor, I am a reasonable man and any reasonable man would believe that he was in serious danger under the facts here in my case. I think I did the reasonable thing by attacking him first."
The judge leans forward in her chair then says, "Mr Defendant, you live in America and we, thank God, are a nation of laws. Under our civilised system of justice you do not have the right to make a pre-emptive strike against another person even though you think you are doing the right thing, the logical thing. Your neighbour was standing in his own yard when he made the threats therefore his actions do not even constitute an assault. It would be a different matter if he was standing two feet from you with clenched fists and screaming that he was going to get you. If that was the case he would be guilty of assault because he had the apparent ability to carry out his threat. If he hit you, that would constitute a battery. Let's take this a step further. If he is standing two feet from you and is yelling threats and shaking his fists at you, you still do not have the right to strike him first. The law requires you to escape from this danger, and if that is not possible the law gives you the right to defend yourself with reasonable means."
For example, if he attacks you with his fists, you cannot defend yourself by using a machine gun. Before sentencing you, let me leave you with this thought: pre-emptive strikes were normal and possibly necessary years and years ago when man was still trying to invent fire, but in today's civilised world such actions are to be condemned; otherwise we are all back in the jungle again."
William F Pittenger
Garden City, Idaho
Sir-- I enjoy reading your Web site, because I feel it helps me not to get caught up in hearing only one side of the story. Ignorance to another's plight can only be described as ignorance.
I do not write this letter to you swelling with American pride. I write because I feel that diplomacy has been the policy with Saddam for over a decade, and now that he is being forced to comply with UN resolutions, the rest of the world suddenly falls against the US. He is responsible for the deaths of more Arabs than any other one event; he is responsible for the deplorable condition of his nation, a nation which should prosper.
I wish and pray that no war takes place, not only for the potential loss of American life, but for the potential loss of any life. If Saddam shared the sentiment of every sane human alive, he would comply, and take responsibility for his actions.
Sir-- Can someone tell me how America, or the world, should deal with the likes of a Saddam? Easier said than done, I suggest. Surely, the European history quoted in 'American fatalism' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 12-18 December) would also spell out the truth of trying to negotiate with tyrants of the world and the futility of that over time. Remember World War II, the big one, was almost negotiated out of history except for the reality of the tyrant.
America does not want war but we must stand and fight the war that the rest of the world chooses to ignore, in the hope that the tyrants of the world will just go away and leave everyone alone.
History, old and new, tells us that does not happen. We will deal with this tyrant and in a few years no one will even remember why the war was worth it, just that America went to war again.
See you in Baghdad.
Doing without diplomacy
Sir-- Regarding 'American fatalism' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 12-18 December). First, the reason that Europe prefers democracy as a "first and last resort" is because they abdicated their responsibility to adequately arm themselves, allowing Americans to defend them. Appeasement (diplomacy) is their only option.
Second, the reason "10 times more Israelis are killed today" compared to 10 years ago, is because they tried diplomacy with an untrustworthy society, and were rewarded with vicious unconscionable murder of their children and other non-combatants. In addition, they are today restrained from completing a military solution through total destruction of the evil that rules Palestinian society. Third, the reason the United States is not only a military, but "an economic and cultural superpower", is because we seldom take the advice of over-educated, unintelligent ivory tower pundits like the writer.
What will the writer do as democracy, with American aid, continues to advance worldwide, and the writer and other dishonest ideologues are less and less welcome in civilised nations?
Sir-- Regarding 'American fatalism' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 12-18 December), I would like to say that a third option of what would happen in case of war with the thundering herd of uncivilised Arab youth you have spawned is that, very simply, they would die and go away and we wouldn't have to deal with them any more. And this would be a good thing. Also, when the writer states that Europe is going to overtake America economically, does he mean in the same way Japan did a decade or so ago, and Saudi Arabia is doing right now? Big whoop.
We've still got the guns and the culture, and I daresay, any economic take-over will be momentary. I don't see anyone scrambling to emulate France nor Germany nor Norway, nor is anyone asking Europe to bail them out of their famines, AIDS and myriad of other problems that seemingly only the US of A can handle.
Finally, the writer very simply overlooks the fact that we're still really angry about Muslims flying aeroplanes into our buildings and killing 3,000 innocent people, and that a war of revenge still sounds pretty good -- especially if it'll kill off some of the same people who hurt us. Europe isn't part of that particular equation, so they can just butt out. We want to be very very sure that it won't happen again, and Iraq is merely the first domino set to fall in that plan.
Deliverance from Bush
Sir-- As Americans, we basically only have our TV and large newspapers to "instruct" us, so I look to the rest of the world for our deliverance from the Bush administration's excesses.
I am a liberal Democrat, and proud of it. Bush's public relations force is too powerful to resist, but I do apologise for the hubris, arrogance and zealous stupidity of the leaders of my country.
Sir-- I would like to congratulate Mr Khaled Dawoud for his excellent article 'To reveal or conceal' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 12-18 December). We mostly knew from the beginning of the America-Iraq fuss that the US has no information to release. The US pretext of releasing such information would jeopardise intelligence sources is absolutely senseless, and as Mr Dawoud stated, the eagerness of the US to obtain a copy of the Iraq's 12,000-page declaration is hard evidence that the US knows nothing.
On 18 December, Colin Powell stated that he is not optimistic about the Iraqi declaration of its weapons of mass destruction. In the same vein, and as a completion of the American farce, the Bush administration submitted to Congress a strategy which warns "hostile nations" that the US is ready to use "overwhelming force", including nuclear power, in response to any chemical or biological offensive against the United States, US forces abroad and US friends and allies. Yet, America and Israel are the only countries in the world that threaten others by using nuclear weapons; so who should be disarmed, Iraq or the US and Israel?
Watching psychopathic figures such as Rumsfeld and Condolezza Rice on television accusing certain countries of being "rogue and outlawed", while their own country is bullying small countries and protecting rogue Israel, is absolutely disgusting. The US absurd initiative to allocate $29 million to promote democracy and freedom of speech in the Arab world is weird and ironic; while allocating billions of dollars to wreak havoc on an already sanctions-devastated country like Iraq. Since the establishment of the United Nations, the US has used its veto power 76 times to object against the will of the international community, mainly to protect Israel from mere condemnation.
American hooliganism is becoming seriously unbearable and will ultimately create more terror and violence. It is quite clear that the US is trying to catch any excuse to attack Iraq, and the result will be radicalising more Muslims and Arabs, inflaming the already volatile situation in the Middle East, and stirring up anti-American sentiment.
Sir-- I read with great delight Mr Nafie's article 'Man of peace' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 5-11 December), and the previous instalment. I remember that the option of peace had once been proposed by the reformist Sudanese thinker Mahmoud Mohamed Taha since the 1960s.
The late President Sadat was ahead of his time.
Sir-- The Palestinians don't need a second state, they need a vote. When they succumbed to the two-state solution they put themselves in a position of weakness. The success of the two-state solution demanded an Israel that was eager to avoid a single state and a Palestinian electorate that was prepared to move either way. In short, unless Israel is placed in a position that requires it to fulfil those liberal values which all democratic republics need or lose support abroad, you will see little progress. Fortunately, such a course of action demands the acceptance of those values by the Palestinians. So, Israel dodges another 'bullet'.
Still, one day the Palestinians may decide that they would rather govern themselves than be ruled. Once that decision is made, Israel will find itself in crisis.
Sir-- With shame, shock and disbelief I read that the United States has vetoed a United Nation's resolution condemning Israel for the killings of three UN workers in Gaza and the West Bank three weeks ago. Israel claimed that the soldiers mistook one of the workers, a 53-year-old British citizen, for a "Palestinian terrorist", but UN officials said that Israeli soldiers were under no threat and that the army delayed an ambulance, leaving him to bleed to death.
I find it the utmost of hypocrisy, that the government of my country is waging an international war on terrorism while condoning the butchery of civilians by its "very special ally", Israel.
Fikry Boulos Salib
Sir-- The Americans have created a 'think tank' to discover why the rest of the world hates them. The fact that they had to form a committee says much about their insensitivity. I would suggest that they start by examining their amazing arrogance -- from the loud-mouthed tourists, to their rubbish diplomacy.
They have the mightiest armed forces in the world while, at the same time, wielding a fiscal power that can literally make-or-break sovereign nations. I read Mr Sean Goodman's letter 'Foolish notion' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 19-25 December), and it was the quintessence of this American condescension when he said: "Why not show your anger at the US government and their policy by refusing US aid? Seems like all these angry anti- American people aren't quite willing to give up our handouts."
Handouts! In this one word, he exposed perfectly the "American attitude", which treats the Arab world as if it were something to be bought or sold. Very akin to prostitution.
I don't think there is anything quite as insulting as arrogant charity -- it breeds servility and political quiescence in those who are bought. As I said, it is a lot like prostitution, but while they might have bought the hearts and minds of the leaders of too many Arab nations, they have -- without doubt -- completely alienated the people, the average man in the street who had more pride and dignity than those who would sell their nations for a few dollars.
St John's, Newfoundland
Seeking a mate
Sir-- I really liked reading Amira El-Noshokaty's article 'Not so young and single' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 19-25 December) about Egyptian singles. I am a 29-year-old Egyptian living in Europe, where I was born, and remain single as those you interviewed. I believe it is really a matter of education concerning our marriage perspectives and attitudes. Even growing up in Europe in an Egyptian family, you are educated with a marriage myth that tells you that you will find your salvation in marriage. Unfortunately, your own individuality has to suffer in that case and it is all about structures.
Egyptians living abroad also have real problems in this issue, and face many difficulties when they are searching for a partner. If you are an Egyptian searching for another Egypt, where do you go to find him or her? Via the Internet?
Sir-- I would like to congratulate Yasmine El- Rashidi for her latest article on the winter blues and SAD 'Battling the blues' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 12-18 December).
It really made me feel that I am normal, and that what I am suffering can be cured.
Sir-- Regarding 'Preacher on the run' (Al- Ahram Weekly, 12-18 December). I would really like to thank you for this article on my behalf and for all those people who loved and admired that lovely person Amr Khaled for all his effort to let us understand everything about our religion.
I was really shocked to hear what had happened to him, and hope that he might be back quickly to his audience whom he is leading to God.
Keep them out
Sir-- Regarding Gamal Essam El-Din's article 'Hard times for Heshmat' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 19-25 December) about the expulsion of one of the 17 Muslim Brotherhood MP's. I say, one down, 16 to go. Clean it up, focus on real issues, solve real problems, figure out how to educate people, create jobs, care for the elderly.
As for Miss Egypt -- who really cares?
Sir-- I love Amr Khaled. Do something to bring him back.
Sir-- I saw an article in the San Francisco Chronicle today about hundreds of people of Middle Eastern origin being held against their will in Los Angeles by the INS.
As a lifelong US citizen, I can assure you of one thing: though people of Egyptian origin are not yet being held, they soon will be. It is my opinion that our government is completely corrupt and those of Middle Eastern origin aren't the only people about to be detained. Americans, and any other group that opposes our government, are next. There is no group that is safe here.
Union City, California
Sir-- Rebekah Logan writes 'Barefoot in the sand' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 12-18 December) in such an insightful and knowledgeable manner. I look forward to seeing more articles written by her. She is amazing.
New York, NY
Between the lines
Sir-- Upon reading the article by Amina El- Bendary 'Not kid stuff' (Al Ahram Weekly, 19-25 December) about the book by 15-year-old Randa Ghazi on Palestine, I had a number of mixed feelings.
First, I was inspired by the 15-year-old author of the book who managed with her talent and self-confidence to write a well-received novel in Europe, particularly because my own 15-year- old daughter is also fond of writing. Second, I felt immense respect and admiration for the Italian education and publishing systems for encouraging a young Egyptian author to write a book on the Palestinian struggle against occupation, inspite of the ideological differences about the issue in Europe.
Third, the weight of resistance by such powerful Pro-Zionist organisations in Europe and the United States against the 15-year-old girl, and their relentless effort to ban her book, is astonishing. This brought to my mind a verse from the Qur'an which states: "They assume every cry is against them," and describes the hypocrites and their constant fear of being exposed. I also recalled William Shakespeare's novel where the wife of Macbeth drove herself mad in attempting to wash away imaginary spots of blood that stained her hands after the crime she committed.
Fourth, the pro-Zionist resistance against the book is an insult to the mind of the European readers who made the book a success. European readers have a free selection of an endless flow of books, many of which are severely critical of the Palestinian cause, the Arabs and the Muslims. But they chose to read 15-year-old Randa Ghazy's book. I thus compliment both author and readers.