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U.S. Leadership in the Mideast

April 06, 2002

In "It's Economics, Stupid: U.S. Could Hold the Key to Mideast Peace" (April 1), Ronald Brownstein makes the point that U.S. trade with the Mideast region has fallen in the last 20 years, which raises the question, "Why should Americans care about Mideast peace?" Why is this region more important than the unending civil wars in Africa or Asia, where trade is just as dismal?

Doesn't the U.S. give $3 billion a year to Israel? And for that investment what do we get, other than rehashed, 20-year-old headline news of another car bomb exploding and Israeli soldiers shooting children throwing rocks? What else does the U.S. get for its money, besides the justified animosity of the Muslim world for supporting the killing of more Muslims via Israel?

I believe the only reason American politicians become involved in the endless peace/war process is because they feel guilty for giving money to support more killings. I would rather the money went to support Americans than to support Israel's war on terrorism. Let us cut off the free money to Israel and then see what happens.

John Batcheller

Berkeley

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Let me see if I understand Brownstein correctly. Mohammed, about to blow himself and Jewish women and children to pieces, suddenly remembers the offer of low tariffs on Arab exports to the U.S. and decides instead to go work in a factory.

Bill Manuel

Spokane, Wash.

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As a former advisor on Middle Eastern affairs to the U.S. State Department, I am afraid that Ariel Sharon may create a large war in the Middle East. Having seen the television coverage, it is apparent that he has taken his campaign against Yasser Arafat too far; not only that, he has done it with weapons we gave him. We will also be a pariah in the Middle East, no longer a broker for peace; no longer will we be able to rely on our allies in the region.

It is imperative we rein Sharon in, lest the whole region explode. If that happens, our Arab friends in the Middle East and in the Muslim world--and our economy--will be wiped out, because the flow of oil will have stopped.

Sam Hamod

San Marcos

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"President Bush is under pressure to do something . . . to diffuse the intense hostilities between Israel and the Palestinians" (April 1). Hold on to your wallets! Every time the U.S. gets more involved in this never-ending conflict you and I pay through the nose. Thanks to the Camp David peace accords we fork over $3 billion to Israel and another $2 billion to Egypt--well over half of our entire foreign aid budget. Year in, year out. Does this cash buy us, or anyone, peace? No, only the terrorists' enmity.

It's time to think differently about the Middle East. No more negotiations, no more arms, no more money. Cut off the tap--cold turkey. We must immediately disentangle ourselves from this black hole of religious, familial and tribal warfare. We don't understand it; we can't control it; and we can't afford it anymore.

Jim Lambert

Toluca Lake

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Now that the dust is settling in Afghanistan, Dubya is being looked at to deal with a violently escalating and ever-more-complex Middle East scenario. Thus far, he has responded with what former National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski called "strategic incoherence." His most definitive action in March was to dispatch Dick Cheney to drum up support for another "war." How long will--or can--we and the rest of the world tolerate simplistic jingoism? Maybe it's time to take a hard look to see if this emperor is wearing any clothes.

Richard Maslin

Irvine

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I fear that the lackadaisical response to terrorism by the countries of the European Union will one day come back to haunt them. They only minimally supported the U.S. in our fight against Al Qaeda and the Taliban and do not support measures to pressure Iraq to eliminate weapons of mass destruction. They do not condemn the Palestinians as they slaughter dozens of innocent Jewish civilians and are only concerned with the safekeeping of Arafat and his Palestinian Authority.

If the members of the EU do not more forcefully support our fight against terrorism they could easily find themselves the victims as well, but by then it would be too late.

Ron Kaminker

Los Angeles

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I wonder why the international community, namely the United Nations, has not made the use of suicide bombings against international law. It should be outlawed as a weapon of mass terror. As for the "outrage" of neighboring Arab nations, why is it that they support the cause of the Palestinians' fighting but not the people themselves. What have they done for the Palestinians for the past 50 years economically? Do they offer any hope, money, jobs or training? It's hypocritical and insulting to hear Arab leaders say they support the cause.

It also seems that Jerusalem is a sticking point for peace. Neither side wants to relinquish control, so make it an international city--something like Vatican City. It would have a seat at the U.N., and it could have a multi-party system allowing smaller groups seats in the government based on a percentage of votes received.

John Irwin

Arcadia

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