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Debate on the Middle East

Miles Seeley writes: "I have been disturbed recently by what I sense to be a trend in the media and some government circles (and even, now and then, in WAIS postings): a condemnation of many if not all Arab states and their leaders. The castigators often know little about the people and states they are condemning, or they appear to have some agenda of their own that makes it necessary to demonize, to some extent, all Arabs. Catchwords like "corrupt," tyrannical," and "obnoxious," are thrown out regularly, and those who say or write them usually take a high moral tone as if they know best and will brook no argument.

I understand the usefulness of making a wartime enemy seem to be the devil incarnate, but when those involved are allies (or at least not enemies) it is distressing. It might imply that, for example, we now think we should subvert or destroy those leaders and groups not on some approved list that exists in the minds of the critics.

I suggest this does nothing to secure the peace and foster good international relations. It is a complicated world and demands thoughtful analysis and debate about what is in the best interests of this country, our allies, and the world. I do not think there are simple answers, and today's best answers could be viewed tomorrow as our worst mistakes.

I realize that there are passionate advocates of one cause or another who believe in what they are saying, but it is my hope that a mature and reasonably diverse government and media will not descend into diatribe. Perhaps the foremost fear in the Arab mind today is that the US is anti-Arab and anti-Muslim. If true, it would lead to disastrous consequences, and I pray it is not. I further pray that government and media are not making it true".

RH: There is a Spanish saying "Al enemigo, puente de plata": give the enemy a silver bridge, a gracious way out. One of the causes of Nazism was the humiliation to which Germany was subjected after World War I. Everyone resents an insult, and the Arab countries are among those where they are taken most seriously. Worse than insults are lies. We have insulted the French (perhaps they deserved it), but now the French government has lodged a complaint about lies spread by the US government. The complaint cited stories attributed to government sources which appeared in the Washington Times and Insight. I read those stories and believed them. i do not know who is telling the truth.

Ronald Hilton - 5/15/03