Your report about the Iraqi suicide bomber was extremely insightful [July 4]. I think the public needs to learn more about Iraqi extremists. Few people ask why the bombers give up their lives. It's much easier to label those people as outcasts without trying to understand their position. I want to read more interviews with those militants. I know it's dangerous to gather information on the views of extremist individuals, but the stories the bombers tell are invaluable.
Nashua, New Hampshire, U.S.
The only thing I want to see inside the mind of an Iraqi suicide bomber is a bullet from a U.S. rifle. Why does TIME give America's sworn enemies a forum in which to spew their venom? I do not need you to show me America's enemies in this war. I saw their face in the blood and fire of the World Trade Center, and it is the face of pure evil. Those suicide bombers don't need to be understood; they need to be eradicated.
Lewis B. Smith
Greenville, Texas, U.S.
The jihadist suicide bomber and his like are cowardly egocentrics. Uppermost in the bomber's mind is the promise that he will enter paradise immediately upon dying as a martyr. There was scant mention of furthering the Iraqi or Muslim cause, no explanation of how his death might lead to some lofty goal. The bomber's prime aim is personal spiritual salvation and reward. Casuistry and sophistry are the tools used by terrorists to justify their actions. The bomber relies on selective application of Koran verses. He aims to get to paradise, even if it is over the dead bodies of friend and foe alike.
Worcester, Massachusetts, U.S.
Your interview with a bomber was informative and scary! It is hard to believe that people like that relate to God with hatred. How ironic to read that the bomber expects Allah to ask innocent victims to forgive him when he offers no forgiveness of his own. I realize that wars have been fought in the name of God for thousands of years, but in this day and age, such hatred is difficult for me to comprehend. I cannot imagine a loathing so deep and all consuming. Even more perplexing is the bombers' belief that they will meet their creator in heaven. What if they find that they end up in hell and that their creator is the devil himself?
Lake Placid, Florida, U.S.
What the bomber had to say challenges prevailing beliefs about the causes of terrorism. Not all extremists are motivated by poverty or desperation; the Iraqi you interviewed is the privileged son of an Iraqi businessman. Terrorists like him are fighting not just for control of their land; the U.S. occupation seems almost an afterthought. The primary motivations of the bomber you talked to are his twisted view of Islam and the heavenly reward it promises. The West cannot appease or defeat Islamist extremists by ending military occupation. Moderate Muslims must rise up and speak out against terrorist acts and the rhetoric used to indoctrinate the bombers.
Union City, California, U.S.
Suicide bombers can quote passages from the Koran all they want, but those who embrace violence and the killing of innocent people lack both honor and humanity. Not only are they an insult to the religion of Islam, they are a disgrace to the human race.
Aaron S. Bayley
"Inside the Mind of an Iraqi Suicide Bomber" was chilling. I congratulate TIME for gaining contact with the interviewee. Your story shed valuable light on why some zealots make the choice to carry out horrendous acts of terrorism.
Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.
Hard Right Turn
Iran's Presidential election, which was won by the hard-line Islamic zealot Mahmoud Ahmadinejad [July 4], proved that Iranians are very much like Americans. When they feel threatened, they become more entrenched and belligerent. The victory of an ultraconservative militant in Iran demonstrates the bankruptcy of George W. Bush's foreign policy. It caused Iranians to reject the relatively moderate candidate and elect a leader who is hostile to the U.S. and the rest of the West.
Tarrytown, New York, U.S.
Of Iranian politics, Ahmadinejad has been quoted as saying, "We did not have a revolution in order to have democracy." Perhaps he needs to be reminded that it was the democratic process that elevated him to the presidency.
In "Real Returns," TIME's William Green described his experiences as an investor in a small company that operates an English-speaking customer-service telephone call center in Manila [July 4]. Green was surprised by the employees' ability to approximate an American accent after taking only a short "accent neutralization" course. It should not have startled him, since the phone agents were all college graduates who lack opportunities to demonstrate their competencies. We Filipinos have an innate ability to mimic foreign accents, which might be because most of us are interested in knowing other languages besides our own. Most Filipino college graduates are intelligent, smart and hardworking, but they need a jump-start for their careers. Call centers may not be the best way for everyone, but it is an honest beginning. I thank Green for investing in our country despite its political and economic troubles.
Glynn Marie Vicoy
Cebu City, the Philippines
The stories on "China's New Revolution" [June 27] offered a unique perspective on my country's political and social changes. "Small World, Big Stakes" made the point that instead of politicians and scholars, the most important figures for China's future and its relationship with the U.S. are people like the textile worker you highlighted, Liu Li. Today, ordinary people like Liu do not fear uncertainty or economic and social instability. These very uncertainties have created opportunities for China's Lius to escape from their humble social and economic background and realize their hopes. There is a degree of freedom of speech here today via the Internet. The people who fearlessly speak out online include new property owners as well as those who haven't yet joined the ranks of this class. Those Chinese want the government to hear their voices and act to promote a democratic system that will protect their property rights.
Oprah's Faux Pas
Poor Oprah! She was so peeved over not being able to shop at the Hermès store in Paris after closing hours [July 4] that she won't buy anything from Hermès again. Oprah says she will discuss the incident on her show. Give us a break. The shop was closed. How many of us have raced to a store just as the closed sign went up? Instead of expecting others to cater to her every whim, Oprah needs to get real and join us mere mortals.
Patsy Ann Taylor
Winter Park, Florida, U.S.
I would have thought that Oprah, of all people, would understand that the same rules apply to her as to the average person. Isn't compassion what she's famous for? Surely she could have had someone find out the Hermès store's closing times and avoided this snub? Perhaps Tom Cruise's new penchant for strange behavior has rubbed off on her. On the other hand, with so few people able to afford an Hermès bag, I can't understand why the store would turn away a customer. Internet shopping might be the way to go.
Rocking for Relief
J.F.O. McAllister's essay "They're Playing His Song" described Prime Minister Tony Blair's use of rock-star diplomacy to get across his message on aid to Africa at the G-8 summit [July 4]. Regardless of what political capital Blair gains by using music celebrities to call attention to Africa's poor, the essence of his message is that poverty must be eradicated. If music is the medium to rouse the Western world, so be it. Politicians aim to leave a legacy, and it's a good time for Blair to do so.
God's Man in Manila
In 1986, when the Philippines was in turmoil, Jaime Cardinal Sin [Milestones, July 4] was a major force in guiding protests against President Ferdinand Marcos' corrupt rule. Although Marcos won a tainted election victory in early February 1986, he was ousted within weeks, and the Cardinal's candidate, challenger Corazon Aquino, took the presidential oath. In a Feb. 24, 1986, report, TIME described Sin's role:
"The leader of the Catholic Church in the Philippines is Jaime Cardinal Sin, the Archbishop of Manila ... [He] has diplomatic gifts that have been invaluable tools in guiding church policy ... When Marcos called for early presidential elections last year, the church was ready. The groundwork for selecting opposition candidates ... had been worked out by the so-called Jesuit Mafia ... [which] concluded that the strongest possible opposition candidate was Benigno Aquino's widow, Corazon. During the precampaign maneuvering, Cardinal Sin met several times with Aquino ... THE PRIMATE REASSURED AQUINO THAT SHE COULD SUCCESSFULLY CHALLENGE MARCOS ... Sin tactfully refrained from endorsing the ticket in public, but there was no doubt about which candidate the church backed. Before the election, the Cardinal sent a letter to all Philippine parishes pointedly instructing the faithful to vote for those who showed 'respect for human rights and life' ... Said one Vatican official ... 'Sin is very highly regarded here, particularly for his keen intelligence.'"