Readers write about the politics of the Olympics, peace in the Middle East, the Air Force budget, and 'facts' in memoirs.
Olympic athletes have a duty to perform in Beijing
Regarding the Feb. 15 article, "Politics-free Olympics? Not this year.": The Olympics are not about Steven Spielberg. They are a way for the athletes of the world to represent their countries in a nonviolent competition. Governments do terrible things, but what the Olympics remind us of is that we are all human beings and that it is possible for us to compete in ways that do not hurt others.
Competition and national pride, for good or bad, seem to be at the center of the problems that those who want to boycott the Olympics are talking about.
The athletes are not just to be thrown overboard either. They are people who, for the most part, have worked their whole lives for this moment, and it may very well be their only chance. To take this away from them for one's political purpose or national need, or to tell the Chinese that they aren't putting enough pressure on Sudan, (which I agree they are not) is wrong.
No, two wrongs do not make a right, and these athletes have a right and a duty to come together and show the world that, yes, we can compete as proud nations in a way that only lifts all of us up, even if only for two weeks.
Regarding the Feb. 15 article, "At rallies, a clash of visions for Lebanon": The article left out an essential component of the divided Lebanon: the undeclared war between Saudi Arabia and Iran over the Muslim world. Saudi Arabia is the strongest backer of the late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's Sunni dynasty and sees in Hizbullah and Iran a danger to its own existence.
A stable Middle East must bring a balance between the Sunnis, Shiites, Baathists, Kurds, and other religious and ethnic minorities in the region. The policies of Iraq's Sunni neighbors vis-á-vis Iran and the Shiite populations, such as redefining citizenship and ending discrimination against Shiites, will definitely allow a democratic Middle East to become a reality.