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U.S. Policy on the Taliban

October 04, 1998

I take exception to Shireen T. Hunter's views in "A Conflicted Strategy on the Taliban" (Commentary, Sept. 25). Since the Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989, the United Nations' continuous attempts, under U.S. prodding, to create a broad-based government in Afghanistan have failed. Patching together disparate groups that were manipulated by the narrow interests of regional powers, most notably Iran and Russia, created nothing but internal chaos and regional instability.

Iran's hegemonic behavior in sending arms and military advisors to Afghanistan is being checked by the Taliban. Moreover, the Taliban have eliminated warlords, collected guns from private hands, established internal security and personal safety, brought the cities and the nation under one administration, returned private properties confiscated by previous governments to their owners and invoked discipline, family values and a conservative ethos.

As in the last 300 years, the Taliban follow a policy of political oligarchy where political power in equitably shared among the major ethnic groups. While the Taliban enjoy the overwhelming support of the population of Afghanistan, unfortunately, it is being ostracized internationally largely over its policies concerning women's rights. In fact, the Taliban have put an end to mistreatment of women, while their rights for education and personal freedom are under study.

The U.S. interest and regional political and economic stability is better served by ending the Taliban's international isolation.

NAKE M. KAMRANY

Professor of Economics, USC

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Hunter is correct when she claims that the U.S. found itself with a strange bedfellow by supporting the Taliban. She's also correct that the reason is geopolitical, but it is not necessarily for the movement of oil products. The more important geopolitical concern for the U.S. is the possibility of the reemergence of communism in Russia. As long as this danger exists, the U.S. will support the Islamic regime of Iran as much as it supports the Taliban.

M.A. BAUBACK

Mission Viejo

L.A. Police

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You can add hundreds, even thousands, of police officers to the LAPD (Sept. 25). Unless you make L.A. an "armed camp," a substantial force increase will have little long-term effect on crime.

Where are you going to get all the courtrooms, judges and attorneys to handle the arrest and prosecution load wrought by this enlarged police force? As it is now, the court system is buckling under the LAPD and L.A. Sheriff's Department arrest volume.

And all the police in the world won't do any good if the officers are not "proactive" and just sit in their cars answering radio call after call, after the fact. Morale in the LAPD is so low and discipline so strict that officers are no longer proactive.

It's not the number of officers that matters; it's the quality of work they do. Ask any officer.

ALAN V. WEINBERG

Woodland Hills

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