The ostensible reason for the current hysteria is that Iran might make a nuclear weapon, but the timing seems convenient. The saber rattling comes as Republicans find themselves hard-pressed to explain why they shouldn't be thrown out of office. Maybe the Bush Administration can save the day for Republicans by selling Americans another war. But who will save the day for the American and Iranian people, who would have to pay for Bush's folly?
Greencastle, Indiana, U.S.
Thank you for producing an intelligent article about the follies of going to war with Iran [Sept. 25]. That is what the media are here for. Otherwise we might be convinced that we would be greeted in the streets with flowers as liberators, that the war would scarcely last six months and that the cost both financially and in the blood of our sons and daughtersas well as Iran'swould be minimal.
It is a sad indictment of our society that we are already asking questions about "What war with Iran would look like" rather than "What diplomacy with Iran would entail."
Matthew D. Hindman
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Americans are embroiled in the Middle East and forced to listen to people like President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran because of our need for oil. We cannot expect success in dialogue or negotiation when those people have something we desperately need. The only way to attain objectivity in foreign policy is to eliminate the oil factor. Americans need to make huge lifestyle changes (sellor junkthe Hummer, and tighten your belt) while we develop oil alternatives. Otherwise, we will have only ourselves to blame for the huge number of young lives that will be sacrificed in the name of a killer oil habit we couldn't break.
Norman, Oklahoma, U.S.
We're supposed to be frightened out of our wits about the threat from Iran, which is still several years away from producing a nuclear weapon? In George Orwell's novel 1984, the state was in a perpetual war with a constantly changing enemy. Does that sound familiar?
Monterey, California, U.S.
Your cover story on the possibility of war with Iran was right: there is indeed an out-of-control President hell-bent on forcing a war between Iran and the U.S. But that President is George W. Bush. He is the President who started an unprovoked war with Iraq under false pretensesa war that has cost tens of thousands of U.S. and Iraqi lives and is sure to cost many more. The media were asleep at the switch during the run-up to that war and appear to be repeating the same mistake. Wake up, America. Don't let it happen again.
Afton, Virginia, U.S.
I cannot believe that even Bush would be so stupid as to attack Iran. Has the U.S. learned nothing from Iraq? If the U.S. must destroy nuclear facilities, then it should take out those in Israel. That would remove the need for Arab states to have nuclear weapons.
In "A Date with a Dangerous Mind," [Sept. 25] you described Ahmadinejad as a "man who had come out of nowhere to win Iran's presidential election." You seem to have forgotten that the election was marred by the accusations of reformist candidates that hard-liners had rigged it. TIME's interview with Ahmadinejad, in which he revealed his supposedly peaceful intentions, sounded hauntingly like the polite conferences European and American diplomats had with Adolf Hitler in the 1930s. While Ahmadinejad is a bit more forthright than Hitler about his disdain for Jews, declaring that Israel should be "wiped away" and the Holocaust is a "myth," Neville Chamberlain would have probably found him trustworthy.
Fred S. Carr Jr.
Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S.
The west may depict Ahmadinejad as dangerous and anti-Semitic, but his interview showed rather a different side. His replies were fairly rational, and you cannot fault him for being an extremist. He may have a very conservative Islamic side, but many Republicans have a conservative Christian side. For those who are critically skeptical of anything Muslim, his words might ring hollow and farcical. But if we are not to judge him with a double standard, then at least he should be given the benefit of the doubt.
I read the interview with Ahmadinejad with great pleasure. He answered the questions with a hint of arrogance but also with reflection. The U.S. President is committing a mistake by rejecting dialogue. I believe that dialogue is the only way out of this conflict. History shows that peace is never a result of war. Leaders like Ahmadinejad must be taken seriouslyand not in spite of but because of different views of the world. Ahmadinejad was fundamentally right in saying, "Everywhere in the world, people are good." If all world leaders shared his view, we would be on the path to peace. But the path will always be long and bumpy.
The extreme reaction of Muslims to an obscure 14th century quotation by Pope Benedict XVI serves only to demonstrate their fanatical bent [Sept. 25]. Had 25 ayatullahs been kidnapped and beheaded, the reaction would not have been greater. While Christianity has taken its rightful share of blame for the Crusades, the Inquisition and crimes against Jews, Islam seems to be exempt from criticismwith a death penalty waiting for those who dare criticize. Today a faith that foments violence, brutality and even the indiscriminate destruction of civilians, including its own adherents, all in the name of God, must be roundly condemned. Admittedly, the slaughter is the work of fanatics and supposedly is not representative of true Islam. But then where is the condemning, restraining voice of the so-called saner elements of Islam? The world is waiting.
Estero, Florida, U.S.
Pope Benedict XVI's quoting of a medieval text that basically states that Islam is a violent religion resulted in predictableand violentreactions in parts of the Muslim world. The irony is so glaring, it is hardly bearable. But the same type of irony can easily be found in Christianity. How much violence has been committed to defend teachings that advise turning the other cheek? It is apparent from history and current events that Christians, Muslims and Jews all believe in the same God. One can only wish he had been more consistent in advocating nonviolence.
The Pope said what needed to be said, period. Radical Muslims have insulted, abused and murdered many non-Muslims and otherwise made their lives uncertain and dangerous for decades. It is about time a world leader stood up and called a spade a spade.
Bainbridge Island, Washington, U.S.
Benedict XVI is not just an academician anymore but the political figurehead of the Roman Catholic Church. He made quite a clumsy statement at a time when the tension between civilizations is growing. I disagree with any attempt to draw a line between Islam and Christianity by trying to prove that the former is more "irrational" than the latter. Christianity's violent past shows that such a claim can't be justified.
None of the Abrahamic faithsIslam, Christianity and Judaismare toothless religions. The Pope should recall the Crusades, when the church used the same sword to further its cause. The Bible says, "First take the log out of your own eye and then you shall see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye" (Matthew 7: 5). At a time when relations between the Muslim and Christian worlds are tense, the Pope's statement added fuel to the fire. It is important that we all respect one another's religion.
I was appalled by the reaction of some Muslim brethren to what Pope Benedict XVI referred to in his speech at Regensburg University merely to illustrate a point. The Pope mentioned nothing new but only repeated what had already been said, and that was six centuries ago. Neither the content nor the intent of his speech calls even remotely for an apology from the Pope, yet he has been magnanimous in offering one. He intended no offense to anyone, and I applaud his statesmanlike response to the outcry. I appeal to my Muslim brothers that instead of impulsive and irrational reactions, they should offer to debate the issues that cause them hurt. A religion is understood by others as its followers in real life practice it.
Amrik S. Gill
Doing unto Others
The president professed that he cannot understand the Geneva Conventions [Sept. 18]. It is a sad day for the civilized world when the President of the most powerful country on earth can stoop so low as to openly promote barbaric treatment of prisoners of war. By flouting the humane terms of the Geneva Conventions, President Bush and his supporters should, at the very least, lose the votes of all servicemen and -women and their families.
Leepi M. Basu
New York City
Crusading Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci died last month in her native Florence at the age of 77. TIME discussed her notoriously aggressive approach to interviewing in the Nov. 29, 1968, issue:
"Oriana Fallaci likes to be disliked. The more hostility between her and her subject, she feels, the better the interview. In waging this belligerent kind of journalism, her weapons are a tape recorder, an eye-catching figure and a vulnerable glint in her wide blue eyes. She roams the world in search of people who are not simpatico but antipatico, and she has bagged dozensNorman Mailer, Federico Fellini, Michael Caine, Dean Martin, El Cordobes, Hugh Hefner and the Duchess of Alba, to name a few ... When Oriana's subjects read the result of the interview, they often complain that she has fabricated the quotes. She denies it. But she does take a few liberties. 'I transcribe the whole interview,' she says, 'then I make it into what I print in the same way that a movie director makes a filmeliminating and cutting and splicing ... Of course I'm an actress, an egotist. The story is good when I put myself in.' Even the Spanish matador El Cordobes admitted that she frightened him as much as an angry bull. 'Why?' she asked. 'Because you use words like the horns of a bull.'" Read more at timearchive.com.