Sir-- 'Privatising war' by Galal Nassar ( Al-Ahram Weekly 29 May-4 June) is an excellent article, well balanced and for the most part correct. As an Australian who fought in Rhodesia (Zimbabwe) I have seen first-hand how many of the former military types have found gainful employment in the wars of other people. I must say that heading off to fight in distant lands has been the saviour of many of these people. Most militaries do little, if anything, in support of their personnel from the time when they are discharged. The more specialised the soldier, the more difficult it is for him to re-join a normal society. The dogs of war like to bark!
Many of the people involved in contract military work see the current situation as make or break. Make lots of money right now or die trying.
We hear very little of the injuries suffered by these people. Regular forces tally up the figures. Contractors are very silent on the subject. There is no doubt the physical and mental cost associated with being involved with such activities.
Incorrect on Kosovo?
Sir-- Your analysis on Kosovo is faulty not because it lacks logic but because it is based on the wrong premise that Kosovo has always been part of Serbia, which is not true ('The quiet Russian' Al-Ahram Weekly 16-22 October).
Serbia occupied Kosovo by force using ethnic cleansing and some horrible mass killings that have been widely reported by the media from the Ukraine to the United States in the years 1913-1916 (including reports of the liberal/socialist Serbs of the time). Nevertheless, bowing to the pressure of Russia, the European powers decided unjustly to let Kosovo remain part of Serbia.
Kosovo is not the cradle of Serbia; that is just a baseless political myth. The Battle of Kosovo was not so crucial to the history of Serbia as it was made by Milosevic and his chauvinist Serbian clique that destroyed Tito's Yugoslavia for the dream of the Great Serbia.
The Kosovars deserve their independence just like other nations that won it during the 1950s, 60s and 70s. It is saddening that exactly the nations that have experienced the yoke of colonialism and long unjust occupations have failed to recognise themselves in Kosovo's case.
Sir-- In 'The bankers' 9/11' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 9-15 October) the author writes: "Companies that sell assets in government auctions will lose tax deductions if salaries for their top executives exceed $500,000 a year, and outgoing managers who take severance packages triple their annual salaries will be required to pay a 20 per cent excise tax." This is not a "cap" on executive compensation. Companies routinely increase the amount of pay to compensate the executive for any additional taxes. They basically calculate the additional tax and add it to the compensation. This is not a win situation. In my opinion, there are no bright spots. The markets continue their tumble, the Feds just reduced the interest rates, and greedy individuals will continue to expect the average American to bail them out so they can continue on their merry way, while subjecting the rest of us to total financial ruin.
Sir-- 'Third World America' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 16-22 October) is an excellent evaluation of the US and excellent writing.
We are hoping for a change in direction.
Sir-- Much of 'Celebrating criminality' ( Al-Ahram Weekly 9-15 October) sounds like idle horror tales for bedtime to me.
Does Al-Ahram have a reputation to defend or not?