Sir-- Excellent article on the inherent conflict between radical popularism and political legitimacy, 'After political Islam', ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 17-23 November). It is not only in Egypt that the phenomenon of a radical fundamentalist religious philosophy has come into conflict with the need to accomplish political goals within a body politic. In the United States, fundamentalist Christian groups have existed on the fringes of the mainstream political body for years, and when they did become part of the political process, they quickly found that compromise was needed to accomplish any of their goals. The same process is, I believe, occurring in Palestine where Hamas, especially, has become a powerful political force.
The problem is that, ultimately, all politics are local and what their local constituency want is food on the table and a better life for their children. It is difficult to accomplish either with a mortar round or at the end of a gun.
Sir-- I agree with everything said in 'Chemical hypocrisy' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 17-23 November) but have a comment about its accuracy. Phosphorus shells are actually not banned chemical weapons as described. They are legal under international law. The Americans were, therefore, not lying when they said they didn't use banned chemical weapons. No, they used legal chemical weapons, which makes no difference to the poor civilian victims killed by them, but according to the Americans, is morally acceptable. My main thought about the assault on Falluja is that the Americans claimed afterwards that the town was cleared of insurgents but there have been many recent "incidents" there. This shows that the exercise actually failed and that many people died for nothing.
Sir-- Concerning 'Radical refugees' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 17-23 November) perhaps Arab Muslims in the world should open their hearts and show how peaceful and loving their religion is and allow these refugees to return to their home in Sudan, and defend their right to a decent living. Until the world recognises and deals with the real reason these people have no homes, this problem will never go away.
Worse than Bush
Sir-- The mood amongst Americans is increasingly swinging towards bringing American troops in Iraq home. In Vietnam, the American leaders came up with the nifty slogan "Peace with Honour" so why not "Disengagement with Honour" for the Iraqi quagmire? My view is that these troops can leave Iraq at any time, as long as they remember to tuck their tails neatly between their legs (Vietnam-style) when they do. Or, if this is too much to stomach, why don't they go for "Shock and Awe II"? It won't solve anything but just think about it -- President Bush will afterwards have another great photo opportunity, standing on the deck of an aircraft carrier under a huge banner reading "Mission accomplished -- Again!"
Rather than the American politicians and public debate whether or not they should pull the troops out of Iraq, they should consider pulling Bush out of the White House and sending him home to Texas. That will certainly have the positive effect of starting the arduous process of reversing the negative impact of recent opportunistic American actions on the international stage.
But if Bush leaves the White House, then Cheney steps in. Please, the world cannot suffer that even worse fate.
Pullout the price
Sir-- President Bush has lost the confidence of the American people, and his own party when it comes to handling Iraq. If he wants to win it back, he must come up with a very clear roadmap for what he expects, both politically and militarily, from the Iraqi government. If the Iraqis fail to meet those goals, he must demonstrate that the price is American withdrawal.
In 2002, preparing America for his connivance, Dick Cheney went on air to soulfully warn about Saddam's non-existent nuclear weapons' programme and an apocryphal Prague meeting between an Iraqi intelligence official and 9-11's Mohamed Atta. The following year, he lied even more brazenly, denying he'd said what he'd said in the first place, though his words were preserved on tape. Likewise, when Cheney predicted the American invaders would be greeted as liberators -- whereby Iraqis, whose sons or husbands had just been killed by American bombers and tanks on the road to Baghdad, would put away their grief to throw flowers in the street -- one might have concluded that he could hardly have been more mistaken.
President Bush is so unpopular at home that this is hampering his effectiveness abroad. A recent poll conducted earlier this month has Bush's popularity at the lowest of any president at a comparable stage in the presidency since Richard Nixon was mired in Watergate. (And we all know how that story ended).
Bush is performing badly even on his previous strong suits, such as the war on terror and his own integrity. Leaders and populations in other countries pay attention to domestic happenings in the United States, and have been quick to grasp his unenviable situation. Not that he was ever very well liked globally, but people were forced to pay heed to him for a period after his re- election. Now all of that has dissipated and for the better.
Sir-- In 'Amman massacre' (Al-Ahram Weekly, 17-23 November) Azmi Bishara, whom I respect and admire, committed certain blunders. He thought Al-Zarqawi "wanted, perhaps, to remind Jordan not to prosper on the destruction of Iraq" or "build its palaces on ashes". Those who know Al-Zarqawi's mentality say he is a naïve, simple- minded criminal. Such line of thinking cannot be his. It is either a false reading or Bishara was reiterating ideas he heard from others. Jordan was targeted mainly for successfully building a stable country in a stormy region.
The only similarity between the attacks on Madrid, London and Amman is that the victims were all innocent civilians. The difference is that the perpetrators in Amman were suicides. Unlike Mr Bishara's claim, the perpetrators were all Iraqis. Al-Zarqawi was the only one from within who did not kill himself, nor will he ever.
Yes, America sometimes doesn't bind itself to the rules of war but is that an excuse for Al-Zarqawi's terrorism? The latter's terror is not a war but mere assassinations.
Al-Zarqawi was not seeking revenge in Amman for the "Iron curtain". Revenge should be inflicted only on the Americans in Iraq. He went after innocent people.
Jordanians cannot condone terrorism even if the neo-cons use it to build their strategy of world hegemony.
Sir-- I agree with the author 'Marketing war' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 10-16 November) but please also be warned: the CIA attacks Americans just as much as it attacks citizens of other nations. In the midst of all of this Karl Rove\Valerie Plame controversy, I have heard Valerie Plame described as being involved in "WMD counter- proliferation". That's not entirely true. She and her co-workers were also engaged in spying on Americans inside America, something which the CIA supposedly is not allowed to do.
This is something which I would like to see her and her colleagues publicly explain.
Sir-- Oxfam has documented figures showing that the rich countries including the US failed to sufficiently respond to the UN appeal for funds for the Pakistan earthquake victims. With winter approaching, people in the hundreds of thousands were (and are) at risk of death, but are being widely ignored by the US except for a few oft- repeated public relations stunts, massively advertised by local media, to win over the hearts of the people.
Compare the minuscule aid given for earthquake victims by the US to the lucrative F-16 contract given by the government of Pakistan to the US military, which ensures profits of tens of millions of dollars for the US corporate elite. Pakistan agreed to purchase 77 second-hand F-16s from the US at a price tag of $40 million apiece. This contract is one of the many cases of poor countries feeding the profits of corporations in the developed world because the military and state institutions of the poor are controlled by proxy by the US.
Compared to this huge amount taken from a poor country, the US returns a minuscule per cent of it in the form of aid that comes with conditions that circumvent the sovereignty of the recipient nation. The US elite exports poverty to the developing world and imports wealth from it. Operating with a specific world view, in control of the world's wealth and the apparatus of public relations, these elite ensure that their decisions will prevail over all others. In such relationships, the poor countries lose on every occasion.
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