After years of peripatetic military service, I spent part of the late 1960s and early 1970s in Afghanistan, and I endorse Richard Kidd's opinions on the people and conditions there ("How Afghan men fight," Oct. 1, opinion page). He could not be more right on the unusual type of fighting allied forces should expect to encounter and conduct on the ground. They will need maximum courage and endurance, far beyond the limits of useful technology. At the same time, it is vital to keep the population on our side. I hope Mr. Kidd's words will be heard and heeded everywhere it matters.
D. West Hong Kong
While I agree with Richard Kidd, I have some concerns.
In a modern society, there are still rules of conduct - laws of war and international humanitarian law. Mr. Kidd is suggesting that the Taliban (or Afghan tribes) have not respected these limits in committing their atrocities, such as the destruction of ancient Buddhist monuments. But Westerners must not give in to those efforts by taking reprisals on the basis of vengeance or carrying conflict beyond the legal limits of war. To do so would undermine not just international treaties, but our own sense of honor.
It is not weakness to abide by laws of war, but strength. Perhaps we can demonstrate to a feudal theocracy why we are a modern society, and why they should learn from us.
Ian Rennie Halifax, Nova Scotia
Thanks so much for Jonathan Rowe's outstanding opinion "A new line on terrorism" (Oct. 3) and his creative way of hanging terrorists out to dry. I'd like to add a few more thoughts.
First, I worked in the Carter White House during the 1979 oil crisis on the White House Emergency Energy Task Force, and wrote about inspiring municipal and corporate responses to conserve energy. If we had continued those energy- and dollar-saving efforts (without the benefit of far more advanced technology widely used today), the US would be importing no foreign oil at all.
Second, how about using front-loading washing machines? They use half the energy and water, clean better, and cause less wear and tear on clothes.
Third, replace incandescent bulbs with compact fluorescent bulbs. Each one saves about $80 in energy costs over its life. Not only is the light equivalent, but compact fluorescents last four to eight times longer.
Fourth, in many states, we have the opportunity to vote for energy security by electing to purchase green renewable energy from utilities. These votes create incentives and economies of scale to make energy costs lower.
Perhaps one of the best ways to honor those who died Sept. 11 is to create a new, sustainable world. The opportunity is in our hands.
Terry Gips Minneapolis
President, Alliance for Sustainability
I believe that Jonathan Rowe's point is quite revolutionary. I've been drying my wash on the clothesline for over a decade, despite the prodigious amount of wash a family of four can produce. America is capable of more than a nod in support of its leaders. Mr. Rowe suggests that Americans unite behind actions that have long-term effects on international terrorism. The high sale of American flags during the days following the terrorist attacks, for example, was a huge cathartic, collective act.
What is now needed is a way for individuals to channel this will for action into a local context. Americans can find diverse and creative ways to impact global politics. Yes, God bless America; but God bless, too, those who put their actions where their prayers are.
Lisa Muszynski Finland
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