The London bombings were another useless attempt by the losing side in the war on terrorism to spread fear in the West [July 18]. You would think that after the retaliation for 9/11—which resulted in the overthrow of regimes in Afghanistan and Iraq—the terrorists would have learned their lesson. The mindless acts of random violence against innocent civilians indicate the terrorists' desperation. Misguided and self-destructive, the attackers are destined to lose as we become stronger and more unified after each test. Freedom will always prevail.
My heart goes out to the bombing victims. I know that brave Londoners will bounce back, as they have so many times before. It is high time the British and U.S. governments go after the root cause of the jihadist problem, namely the fundamentalist mullahs and Islamist preachers who hide behind a façade of being religious men as they sow seeds of hatred and violence among young Muslims. Those preachers are evil and should be treated as terrorists and fully prosecuted. That would rid the Muslim community of some real troublemakers and ultimately help young and mainstream Muslims.
Overland Park, Kansas, U.S.
I couldn't stop looking at your cover picture. I didn't dwell on the disturbing gauze mask the bombing victim was holding to her face, but I was struck by the astonishing compassion of the man helping her. For every stone-cold killer, there is an equal and opposite force for good.
What happened in London is yet another attack on the citizens of Western countries that have a military presence in the Middle East. There is a lot of talk about winning the war on terrorism, but we will never win such a battle. An endless stream of people are willing to commit suicide in violent acts for a cause that has been made absolutely clear to us: forcing us out of the Middle East. Yet we parrot phrases like "They want to destroy our way of life" and "They hate our freedom." We are the worst kind of trespassers, with no legitimate business in Middle Eastern countries. The West is driven by a hunger for their oil. We continue to deal with unscrupulous royalty while the death toll rises. We must wake up and get out of the Middle East.
Thumbs up for your extensive coverage of the 7/7 bombings. I offer sympathy and condolences to the British and those who lost loved ones in the cowardly acts against humanity. Unfortunately, it is usually innocent civilians going about their daily business who are killed and maimed. All peace-loving people should fight against those who carry out such acts. Negotiating with terrorists is like squeezing water from a stone.
The bombings left scars on the whole nation, though none so deep as the baseless charge that Islam incubates terrorism. Such an accusation threatens to divide Muslims, Jews and Christians just when we most need to close ranks to fight terrorists wherever they are. The one consoling thought is that the British people have shown compassion and the will to rise above obstacles and join together to safeguard the key principles of our society: tolerance, forgiveness, and racial and religious harmony.
Munjed Farid al Qutob
As a Muslim and a student of Islam, I was utterly distressed by the bombings in London. Although I know that many educated non-Muslims understand that terrorists are a fringe element in the Muslim world, I still feel ashamed that such atrocities could emerge from among my people. While the whole world opposes the terrible evil of terrorism, the greater fight for the Muslim community is to wipe out that ugly blemish. At this moment, while feeling grief for all affected, I want to cry out to the world: "I am a Muslim. And like most of my fellow Muslims, I don't hate or kill non-Muslims. I love my non-Muslim friends dearly—including many Americans—as they love me." The power of love is greater than the evil of senseless hate.
It may not be enough for Muslims in London to launch mass protests against the bombings. They should actively participate in community activities and ensure that those who have lost faith in the Koran and in Islam as a peace-loving way of life return to the fold and follow the path of peace.
No War Connection?
In his viewpoint "Why Iraq Has Made Us Less Safe ..." Daniel Benjamin pinned the cause of the London bombings on the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq [July 18]. His thesis, however, doesn't explain the motives behind the 9/11 attacks or the 2002 Bali bombings. The U.S. hadn't set foot in Iraq when those acts took place. The alarmists, especially Benjamin, need to recognize that success in Iraq—at a high yet reasonable cost—will make the world safer in the long run. Democracies don't export terrorism.
Manhattan Beach, California, U.S.
Benjamin just doesn't get it! The terrorists hate the U.S. and the West for everything we represent. What was there about U.S. foreign policy in the 1990s that made them mad enough to take down the World Trade Center towers in 2001? Nothing!
Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.
For those who say the terrorist attacks in London are a result of the war in Iraq, I ask: Would a U.N. endorsement of the war or the finding of weapons of mass destruction have made the slightest difference to the London bombers?
The Iraq Effect
In his viewpoint claiming that the Iraq war has not increased Muslim resentment of the U.S. [July 18], Charles Krauthammer stated that the U.S. will be blamed "whenever there is a terrorist attack anywhere in the world." It is true enough that the extreme radicals of al-Qaeda will always find some excuse to attack the U.S. and its allies. That does not mean we should give terrorists additional excuses to do so. Rather than fostering democracy, our belligerent invasion of Iraq has destabilized the region and convinced many Muslims, whose hearts and minds could otherwise have been won, that the terrorists' depiction of us is true.
Highland Mills, New York, U.S.
Krauthammer asked, "What exactly is the U.S. not doing in the war on terrorism that it would be doing if it weren't in Iraq?" We could have used the money spent on the war to secure our ports, borders and public transportation and to further any number of domestic projects. Instead, billions of dollars have gone into destroying and then rebuilding Iraq. We could have deployed enough troops in Afghanistan to help the central government take on the warlords and extend its power beyond Kabul. But now the Taliban are making a comeback, and Afghanistan is once again the world leader in opium production. The war in Iraq was not necessary. Saddam Hussein had been contained, and he had nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorists. The Iraq invasion was a tragic blunder.
Victor M. Silva
Hermosa Beach, California, U.S.
The "democratic stirrings" in the Middle East that Krauthammer noted with such satisfaction would, if they resulted in free and fair elections, probably return an overwhelming victory for anti-U.S. Islamic parties. Krauthammer claimed, "We have recruited tens of millions of Afghan and Iraqi Muslims" to our cause. Why, then, is there a vocal movement even among Iraq's long-oppressed Shi'ites to remove U.S. forces so Iraq can get on with forming an Islamic republic? Why, then, is there sufficient support to fuel an insurgency that shows no signs of waning? Why, then, are nearly all of Afghanistan's provinces outside Kabul effectively ruled by tribal leaders and warlords?
Philip K. Lentz
The Good Shepherd's Tale
"How The Shepherd Saved The Seal," about the rescue of a wounded U.S. Navy seal on a commando mission in Afghanistan [July 18], was an excellent story. It's good to know that an Afghan shepherd in the rugged mountains was free to take the moral high road and provide safety to a U.S. serviceman in his country.
Roger B. Stern
About Filipino Fatalism
Political-science professor Alex Magno made several perceptive observations in his Essay "The Perils of Pedestals," about Filipinos' "schizophrenic political culture" [July 18]. But I balked at Magno's conclusion: "After we are done with the ceremonial self-flagellation ... we will settle back to a comfortable regime of elastic rules and mediated processes. It is our culture—and our fate." Can't a culture develop and change for the better? I believe that as we Filipinos continue to learn progressive ideas, adopt modern ways, pursue quality education and experience globalization, we shall arrive sooner or later at a brighter tomorrow. It may take time, disciplined effort and enlightened leadership, but we will grow and mature beyond the "fate" to which Magno has consigned us.
Antonio A. Agustin
Magno argued that Filipinos must learn to put their faith in institutions, not in individuals as we are used to doing. But then, amazingly, he stated, "Deep in our guts, we know that a President's phoning an election official when votes are being counted—as [President Gloria Macapagal] Arroyo has admitted doing—is most likely not unusual." A President's wish or desire, to a common person or especially an election official, is akin to a direct order. And to say that a phone call during vote counting is not unusual is to condone wrongdoing.
Are we so naive as to believe that the Live 8 concerts [July 11] will provide relief for poverty-stricken Africans? How pathetic we are to think we can help the continent of Africa with some concerts in the park. I have never witnessed a more pretentious and self-absorbed gathering of aging rockers and one-hit wonders. The first and foremost thing on the minds of the audience was hope for an encore, not hope for Africa. The plight of Africa is not some startling revelation. No one has an excuse for being unaware of the devastation there. Live 8 will assuage the world's guilt for a while. Then sentiment will grow for a repeat event in 2025. Let's all hope we get a great summer's day for that concert too.
In your report "Inside The Mind of an Iraqi Suicide Bomber" [July 4], you made it clear that influential Islamist leaders are brainwashing young Muslims. That means, then, that those young people can be positively influenced by other Muslim leaders, parents, friends and teachers as well. The fight against terrorism will be won in the schools and mosques. And those institutions have not risen to meet their responsibilities. The young man in your article said he feels much closer to his jihadist brothers than to his family. Shame on the Muslim community for not taking responsibility for its children, for not doing whatever it takes to protect them from those who preach hatred and violence.
Your report was quite revealing. I think suicide bombers are a bunch of gullible people who believe they can gain salvation by terrorizing others—the so-called enemy. If Islam as a religion preaches peace, why do extremists unleash so much destruction and terror and then resort to the Koran to justify their actions? I don't think God needs humans to fight wars for him.
Ethics for the Military
As our Milestone on the death of U.S. Navy Vice Admiral James Stockdale noted [July 18], he was a prisoner of war for seven-and-a-half years during the Vietnam War. After he was released, he credited his background in philosophy with helping him survive the ordeal. In a Feb. 19, 1979, profile of Stockdale, when he was president of the U.S. Naval War College and a philosophy teacher there, we described Stockdale's commitment to teaching his military students how to combat "the deadening of moral sensitivities":
"Ethics is taught in many forms in service academies and postgraduate institutions. But Stockdale wants to create a model specifically designed to help the military 'regain our bearings.' Says he: 'TODAY'S RANKS ARE FILLED WITH OFFICERS WHO HAVE BEEN WEANED ON SLOGANS AND FADS OF THE SORT PREACHED IN THE BETTER BUSINESS SCHOOLS—that rational managerial concepts will cure all evils' ... Says Air Force Lieut. Colonel Norman McDaniel, a fellow P.O.W. of Stockdale's and now one of his students: 'A lot of training in the military tells you how you should act, but it doesn't give you the why. We're at a stage of moving from responding to what other people tell us to do to having more choice.' Not an easy concept for military men, but as Stockdale puts it, 'No philosophical survival kits are issued' when man goes to war."