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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

On the Heart, Stomach and Voice of America

In response to "U.S. Has Stomach for War," a column by Russell Working on Sept. 24.

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Email the Opinion Page Editor

Editor,
I can see how Russians would have difficulty reconciling the America that produced MTV and that sent televised wrestling matches to the top of the most-watched list with an America where unarmed citizens will drive a plane into the ground rather than let hijackers crash it into a city. As Mr. Working pointed out, we haven't had to fight for survival. We know that much of what we were fighting over was trivia, but we liked it that way. We liked having a country where our biggest day-to-day problem was traffic, or which high school football team would win the homecoming game, or where the Dow Jones would close that day. To equate that with softness is foolish and dangerous. Americans still know how to fight.

If there will be a challenge for Americans, it will not be in mustering fortitude, but restraining it. Much of this warfare will be conducted covertly, either in the field or cyberspace. Most people lack the specialized skills for this new kind of warfare and will have to channel anger and resolve into helping the country get back to business. Before the attack, we were hard workers, putting more hours into our jobs than workers in any other industrialized nation. We will now work harder. Accepting the role of bystander and maintaining the resolve necessary to support an anti-terrorism mission long after the cable television story graphics become tiresome will be hard for generations enamored of fast food and instant gratification. The anger of ordinary Americans will keep us moving forward when progress seems slow and justice seems far away.

Nancy Fahrenthold
Snellville, Georgia



Editor,
In his article, Russell Working, opined that in Haiti a mother might be tempted to skin a cat and stew it for her children. I am very disturbed by his ignorance and insensibility to the Haitian people, who have been discriminated against enough.

For someone who has visited the island, he should know that Haitians do not eat domestic cats. I will bet him all my retirement money he couldn't go to a supermarket in Haiti and buy cat meat. Some Haitians do hunt wild cats for consumption but others will probably deny it because the practice is not common in the island, and many are not aware of it.

I am sure his intention was to highlight poverty in Haiti, but I couldn't see the relevance of his comment in the article other than to take a cheap shot at an already battered country. What else did he experience? I suggest that he buys a history book on Haiti and/or the Haitian revolution. Enough nonsense writing about Haiti; you can find better topics to write on. Vive Haiti!

Cherie
Haiti



Who Is Chris Floyd?



In response to "Global Eye -- Blank Check," a column by Chris Floyd on Sept. 21.

Editor,
I'm very curious to know what country Mr. Floyd is from. Is he a Westerner, perhaps? His commentary makes America sound like it is being blindly led by a control freak. He forgets that this country has a very strong voice and that as U.S. citizens we are well known for using our united voice to sway our president to take a different path if that is the people's will. The following comment by Mr. Floyd -- "The list is long: Anyone who criticizes the president in this time of crisis. Anyone who has ever criticized him before. Anyone who gives information to the American people about what has happened to them and what is being done in their name" -- is, at best, a greatly bloated version of our government's search for terrorists and their associates. As an American, I respect Mr. Floyd's right to his opinions. But they are only that (misguided as they are).

To Mr. Floyd: Our President has a monumental task ahead of him and he has the full backing of a united people. We are not a perfect nation, as history has shown, but please don't underestimate the intelligence and will of American citizens!

Name withheld
United States



Editor,
I am a daily reader of the on-line version of The Moscow Times and usually I enjoy what I read. I believe that Chris Floyd's article, however, was misleading and I am disappointed that it was posted on the web site. Though he raised justified concerns about the power that Congress has placed in the president, he misrepresents the situation in regard to the Gulf War.

The United States was a supporter of Iraq during its war with Iran; however, I would like Mr. Floyd to provide evidence that President George Bush Sr. encouraged Iraq to pursue a program that would lead to weapons of mass destruction. Also, it is true that Bush did not allow American or allied forces to continue to wage war against Iraq after the liberation of Kuwait. I also recognize that this in retrospect was perhaps a questionable decision. However, to portray President Bush as having allowed Saddam Hussein to murder people is a blatant misrepresentation of the facts.

President Bush had specific aims that justified American presence in Iraq and in waging war. Once these aims had been met, Bush had little justification to continue the operation. He had little footing at home, for the American people already viewed American involvement as having run its full course. Furthermore, the international coalition that he and his administration had so skillfully assembled was rather unstable in its nature and was not supportive of the idea of rooting out Saddam Hussein. The American president was not a monster that watched as Hussein killed Iraqis, his hands were tied.

Further, I was wondering what evidence Chris Floyd has that American soldiers were ordered to massacre surrendering Iraqi conscripts. I believe that Americans often don't realize what goes on in the world around them. However, Americans are not this way because of a lack of information -- indeed there is a wealth of information. They are generally apathetic to the world around them for a variety of reasons including their economic might and physical independence. Chris Floyd is quite right: We are living in a world of lies. These lies are not propagated by America nor her news media; they are spawned by people like Chris Floyd who twist the truth and history to conform to their own twisted perceptions.

R. Childs
United States



The Perfect Name



In response to "Pentagon PR in Search of the Perfect Name," a column by Matt Bivens on Sept. 24.

Editor,
I enjoyed your article. I would vote for turning the clock back from current polemic style names of military operations to true code names. A true code name would not give away its object. The Manhattan Project, the U.S. World War II development of the atomic bomb, certainly fits that idea, as does Operation Overlord, the name for the Allied Norman Invasion. So scrap the preachy names. Why not Operation Grizzly Bear (or Wolverine!)? Cobra or Dragon? If I were the enemy, I'd be worried.

Bill Rudersdorf
Houston, Texas



Editor,
Good article! Those idiotic names of various missions have been driving me crazy for years. Whichever Pentagon geniuses who may have been responsible for these semantic abortions should be referred for either Special Education classes or psychotherapy.

Desert Shield and Desert Storm were OK, but the rest of these cringe-worthy appellations were utterly preposterous, tributes to the maudlin taste and judgment of their authors.

J. R. Merit
United States



Editor,
I thought you might be interested to know that some guy in a Salon.com chat room came up with the appropriate name for Bush's excellent adventure: "Operation Flaming Sword of Baby Jesus."

Dave Cunningham
United States



Fight War With Honor



In response to a letter by Jan Mehrzai, published Sept. 21.

Editor,
The United States was constrained in its actions after the Soviet Union quit Afghanistan for exactly the reasons we are often falsely charged with. The United States is accused of colonialism by all the enemies of freedom in the world. In the case of Afghanistan, and for many other countries as well, the United States did not use its influence to organize any government for the country it helped to free from a foreign government and a government imposed from outside.

Does this writer suggest that the United States should have set up a government in Afghanistan instead of leaving after the resistance succeeded? How could we have done this? We do not believe in governments that are not democracies and are suspicious of those tied too thoroughly to any one specific religion. The only governments we have been involved in organizing that worked out well are those of countries we have defeated in war: Germany and Japan. Most other attempts at creating and influencing governments or regime toppling (Iran under the Shah, Guatemala, South Vietnam) were failures and are much criticized by Americans.

We did assist in setting up or preserving the governments of Taiwan and South Korea. Those countries, after a long period of totalitarianism, have given birth to real representative governments of the kind we originally, if naively, thought we were nurturing.

Israel was set up as a secular and representative government at the start, but the United States was little involved there until the second time the Arab world attempted to eradicate it. Yes: Many of us criticize Israel for allowing religion to drive government policy, even though Israel is properly set up as a secular state.

The United States has evolved over the years and its citizens (most of them, anyway) understand and condemn the mistakes of the past when we gave callous disregard for other's freedom during our battle with communism. We hope that we will not make similar mistakes in the war on terrorism, but we must fight this war as it has been declared on us because of our civilization.

The only way we could satisfy the terrorists would be to become mindless religious bigots as they, themselves, are. The Islamic fundamentalists want to turn back the clock by some 1,400 years to a feudal world and style of government. In essence, they wish to destroy civilization. Granted, there are fundamentalists in other religions, who wish a similar fate for civilization, that have not yet created violence and terror but who speak and preach the same intolerance. The American Jerry Falwell comes to mind.

I can only hope that the United States will fight this war with honor and with an eye towards the peace that will follow rather than wear blinders that focus on bin Laden and his groups. Too tight a focus and too little thought of peace will just create another round of intolerance and ignorance. We do not desire that.

Ian MacFarlane
St. Petersburg, Florida



Stand Up to the Police!



In response to a letter by Andrew Anselmo, published Sept. 21.

Editor,
I have traveled extensively to Russia and love the country immeasurably. My experience with the police has been horrific, but I knew ahead of time what to expect. If Americans only understand that it is something to take seriously and deal with it accordingly, they might have better luck. I too was stopped in Red Square and asked to pay a large fine. But I didn't. You've got to be willing to stand up to them, stare them down, threaten them, act stupid, claim poverty, have only 50 rubles ready to show as your entire life savings, do anything you can to avoid paying the bribes. Americans are weak and passive when dealing with the police and can't believe such a thing could happen to them. There's a fine line between paying the bribe and avoiding the bribe. Learn it! It's a fact of life.

The police work on the fear that Americans and other foreigners have about them. They fear "the hard way" that might possibly land them in jail. You've got to confront that fear dead on or there can be even further trouble up ahead. My love of Russia and the Russian people and culture is undeterred. The "contact" I've had with the police leads me only to understand the circumstances better. I can't change the situation and I'm not making apologies for the corruption that occurs -- but I remain harshly aware of the reality of dealing with the police. Best of luck next time.

Al Lucero
Albuquerque, New Mexico



Taliban Not Terrorists



In response to "Keep America From Becoming Another Israel," a comment by Yekaterina Stepanova on Sept. 27.

Editor,
While terrorism in all its forms -- physical and non-physical, and by individuals, groups or states -- is reprehensible and must be eradicated, one does not understand what threat is posed to the world by the ideology practiced by the Taliban.

I do not agree with all that they practice, just like most Russians would not agree with what is being practiced in most other countries of the world.

As far as I know, the Taliban are not even trying to export their ideology or culture across their borders like many other nations are trying to do through their press, electronic and other media -- and even through humanitarian aid groups.

Then what is the worry? What I mean to say is, terrorism -- yes go after it in all its forms, but please do not mix it with peoples' beliefs or cultures. Otherwise, we would be laying the seeds for another battle based on ideologies.

Iqbal F. Quadir
Karachi, Pakistan



Invest in Russia



In response to "Chechnya Deadline Needs Grain of Salt," an article by Nabi Abdullaev on Sept. 26.

Editor,
One point I think was missed in your otherwise excellent article is the following. The general American perception of the Chechnya situation was established by a very liberal Clinton administration that sees human rights abuses when a mother disciplines her children, and of course America could not be seen siding with Russia on the issue. After all, we are supposed to adversaries -- are we not? -- as dictated by the Cold War.

How times have changed. It is about time and very unfortunate that it took Sept. 11 to bring us together. As for Chechnya, I think you will find a different position coming from the Bush administration than you saw from Clinton regardless of Sept. 11 but even more so because of it. Yes, we (both countries) have a long way to go in eliminating the left-over Cold War anxieties and distrust, but I think a new day has dawned where we can begin to invest in each other. Yes, the United States has much technological power and a great deal of money and through this crisis America will see few better places to invest it than in Russia.

Curtice Mortrud
United States