Request to Iranians
Sir-- I hope the Iranian people think through the consequences of their leadership developing nuclear weapons. Should such a weapon ever detonate in Europe, the US, or even Israel, whether directly through Iranian actions, or through accidental or intentional acquisition by terrorist groups, any Iranian signature on the event will lead to the wholesale destruction of their country. The Iranian people have everything to lose and very little to gain. I suspect the only peaceful resolution to this impasse would be for the Iranian citizenry to force their leadership to comply with UN resolutions and stop, once again, their nuclear arms development programme. In spite of their leadership, the people of any country bear some responsibility for the actions of their leaders, popular or not.
Secondly, they should realise that no Western country can afford to wait and see if nuclear terrorism destroys one or more of their cities. They will, and should, act first. The history of the world shows that countries which ignore threats, hope for the best and do nothing ultimately pay the severe price for optimism and laissez- faire.
When Europe failed to enforce the Treaty of Versailles and strove instead to believe in peace with Hitler at all costs, 100 million people died as a result. The West would be fools to sit back once more and ignore a nation which makes continuous threats, and stonewalls to gain time. For the sake of the Iranian people, I fervently pray that they demand that their leadership back off from any nuclear development not verifiable within the peaceful-use guidelines of the UN.
Sir-- The thanaweya aama (12th grade) nightmare continues. This year's English exam came as a shock to many students despite official confirmation that the exam would be within the capabilities of the average student.
The exam contained unfamiliar vocabulary such as "deliberate" and "directly proportional to", making it difficult to understand the context in which such words and terms are used.
As for the grammar, suffice it to say that sentence transformation items were beyond the level of average students. Furthermore, many important grammatical items in the syllabus were ignored in the exam.
Why do our exam setters insist on making students and their families suffer as a result of exams that lack validity, reliability and fairness? Why must our students pay dearly for the mistakes of those who are supposed to help and support them most?
Teachers alone, no one else, know best the standards of their students and their abilities and, therefore, they should have the final say in everything, including setting the exam, which at present, they do not.
Terrorism by any other name
Sir-- Recent Australian news coverage ('Killing fields' Al-Ahram Weekly 19-25 June) left the distinct impression that the purpose of the military occupation of Afghanistan was unknown, except for the rhetorical freedom and countering threats to our values and way of life. This seemed to be based upon the premise that killing everyone that lived there who did not support the puppet regime would somehow make the world a safer place. Additionally, the mission lacks a coherent purpose and set of objectives, apart from the poorly defined and euphemistic "nation- building" as demonstrated in the stability brought to Iraq. Instability, as Chomsky notes, appears to be defined by a lack of obedience to specific Western corporate interests as articulated by corporate sponsored political leaders. More simply: a failure to follow orders of the gangster capitalists.
Commentators lament that the people the military are killing in Afghanistan on behalf of the gangster capitalists have adopted insurgent or terrorist methods. George Bush gave the Taliban leaders (the effective government of Afghanistan at the time) an ultimatum to hand over Osama Bin Laden within 48 hours or face invasion, an act of state terrorism, and now, having imposed a puppet regime under occupation, as in Iraq, is using systematic violence in order to intimidate and coerce the civilian population.
Perhaps this is why our commentators cannot get any clear explanation as to why we still have military forces in occupation in both Iraq and Afghanistan years after they were illegally attacked in acts of state terrorism instigated by George Bush and Tony Blair.