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Iraqi Shiites in concert with Iran?

I am very troubled by your April 24 article "Democracy's push, theocracy's pull." Iraqi Shiites would not federate with Iran. Anyone who knows them knows they have gone to great lengths to maintain their independence of Iran, now and throughout their history.

To print such an assertion at this time is dangerous. The US government tends to be uninformed or misinformed about the Shiites and may be moving toward a misguided policy in Iraq. This kind of article promotes such a disaster.

It is also untrue that the Iraqi Shiites generally want a theocracy - although a few may. A fine newspaper like the Monitor should not be using mistaken experts, moving us to thwart majority rule in Iraq and no end of instability for the long-suffering Iraqi people.
Joyce Wiley
Spartanburg, S.C.
Government and International Studies

University of South Carolina, Spartanburg

Pipeline in no condition to pump oil

John K. Cooley's April 23 opinion piece "An old Israel-Iraq oil line ... reopening?" concerning the old pipeline to Haifa is the first and only one I have found that mentions that the old line is not just lying there ready to go.

The salts associated with oil damage pipe and, as your article accurately explains, the pipeline will have to be replaced to be of any use, as will the pumping stations and other infrastructure.
Jim Tanner
Glenn Rose, Texas

Examining culture in the classroom

As a second-teacher and a mother, I read with great interest your April 22 article "Twenty years after 'A Nation at Risk.'" I understand that our educational system has room for great improvement and I am encouraged that we continue to search for the reasons behind our failures. This study, however, examines our educational system as if it exists in a vacuum. I'm afraid the real reasons why "in global comparisons US students still fail to score among the top nations" will never be found until our culture is studied as well.

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