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opm_49-50_Other People's Mail 10/27/10 10:00 PM Page 49

Other People’s Mail Compiled by Kate Hilmy and Delinda C. Hanley How to Aid Afghan Women To The Washington Post, Oct. 16, 2010 I appreciate Laura Bush’s Oct. 10 op-ed, “A country for everyone,” on the terrible status of women in Afghanistan. But this is not a valid reason for continuing the war or propping up Hamid Karzai’s government. We invaded Afghanistan to get Osama bin Laden and wipe out al-Qaeda. If we cannot do that with the resources we have, we should withdraw. If we could redirect even 10 percent of the resources devoted to this war to organizations working to bring education, health care, infrastructure and economic growth to Afghanistan, its women would see much improvement in their condition. Sixty years ago, 10 percent of our population was oppressed. Lynchings were common, schooling for African Americans was inferior, and many blacks were denied the right to vote. But if a country had invaded the United States to liberate this sector of our population, it would not have had the desired effect. So there are other, more effective ways to help the women of Afghanistan. Elizabeth Hedges, Lovettsville, VA

The Killing of Afghan Civilians To The New York Times, Oct. 17, 2010

Re: “5 U.S. Soldiers Accused of Killing Afghan Civilians”: You report that senior United States Army leaders fear trying the soldiers in question, as facts brought up in the trial could anger Afghan civilians at a time when the Obama administration needs local support. But the killing of civilians in Afghanistan is already well known, and what infuriates many Afghans is that American soldiers are rarely held accountable for their actions. Abiding by the rule of law and trying these soldiers will not lose hearts and minds in Afghanistan. On the contrary, it will show that the United States is taking responsibility for the conduct of its troops and recognizes the value of Afghan lives. Jonathan Horowitz, human rights investigator for the Open Society Foundations, New York, NY

A Basis for Drone Strikes To The Washington Post, Oct. 12, 2010 The Sept. 6 editorial “Target: Americans,” concerning the CIA drone strike authorized against Anwar al-Aulaqi, an DECEMBER 2010

American-born cleric living in Yemen, said that the president should “consider making public the general criteria—excluding ultra-sensitive methods and sources—that it uses to designate an individual for the target list.” That’s an excellent idea. The U.S. government has been sued for targeting a U.S. citizen without explaining how he meets the criteria of who may lawfully be killed as an enemy belligerent as part of the “war on terror.” Yet the problem is not only the targeting of U.S. citizens. It is that the United States is engaged in a widely publicized program of targeting suspected combatants using unmanned aerial drones, often far from any proclaimed battlefield. Whether this is legal depends not just on the citizenship of the target but on whether the individual is actually an enemy belligerent or a citizen directly participating in hostilities against the United States. International law does not permit the targeting of anyone who merely supports or promotes an enemy organization. Using the CIA to secretly target suspected belligerents around the world, without a U.S. explanation of why this is legally justified, could backfire by helping al-Qaeda win many more new recruits than the United States can eliminate. Clarifying the criteria used to determine who qualifies as a lawfully targetable enemy belligerent would not undermine the U.S. war effort; on the contrary, it would make it more effective. Daphne Eviatar, New York, NY

Wars Aren’t a Campaign Issue To The New York Times, Oct. 19, 2010 The larger point is not that we have forgotten about the two wars; it is that the American public has never been asked to make the “shared sacrifice” necessary to successfully confront the threat that we face. Tom Brokaw well knows, as author of The Greatest Generation, that shared sacrifice was critical to America’s success in fighting and winning World War II. But as he points out, the sacrifice today is mostly endured by our military personnel and their families. Military families have dedicated their “blood” to the cause, but the rest of us, because of concern about taxes, have not been asked to commit our “treasure.” The cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars has simply been added to the debt of future THE WASHINGTON REPORT ON MIDDLE EAST AFFAIRS

generations. If we had been asked to actually pay for the wars with our current tax dollars, our troops would have been home a long time ago—or perhaps not sent at all. Mark Hallberg, Stillwater, MN

Real Obstacle in West Bank To The Washington Post, Oct. 3, 2010 Richard Cohen admitted that all Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. And yet he chided the Obama administration for promoting “an absolute moratorium on [settlement] construction as the prerequisite for peace talks.” He’s wrong. Settlement construction in the West Bank (which includes East Jerusalem) is precisely what is making a just resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict impossible. Mr. Cohen stated that “some [settlements], regardless of legality, are going to stay.” And why is that? Because no U.S. administration has exerted enough pressure to persuade Israel to stop building them. (Terminating U.S. military aid to Israel might do the trick.) And so Israel continues—month after month, year after year – to build and expand settlements, creating what it calls “facts on the ground” that it thinks the world will allow it to keep despite their illegality. A complete and immediate cessation of settlement construction should be the absolute minimum expected of Israel. Anything less is a farce. Joanne Heisel, Columbia, MD

Obama’s Offer to Israel To The New York Times, Oct. 8, 2010 After more than 60 years of unwavering support militarily, diplomatically and financially, the United States finds itself in the humiliating situation of having to beg the state of Israel for a mere 60-day extension of the settlement freeze to facilitate an agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, which is so important in promoting peace and security for the region and the world. As an American citizen of Israeli origin, I am angry and offended. It is time for the White House to explain to the nation how American interests are still being protected within such an uneven relationship and what it plans to do about it. Michael Harel, New York, NY 49

Washington Report on Middle East Affairs  

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