Your article "Colombian rebels abandon arms" (May 28) offers a very accurate description of this so-far-forgotten front in our own war against terror. Listening to the defectors, it's easy to tell that most of them were recruited by the guerrillas either by force or deceit. The strategy of encouraging defection will certainly have a significant strategic impact. This strategy, however, has a limitation: Top commanders might never defect, because all of them have been involved in horrible crimes that cannot be forgiven according to current rules. Ordinary Colombians rejoice at the sight of poor young women and men turning over their weapons and joining society again, and we would rejoice if leaders such as Chávez or Castro stopped supporting and protecting top commanders.
President Uribe will have to do a whole lot more than offer a reintegration program to resolve Colombia's problems. Little to nothing is being done about the social problems that have fueled Colombia's civil war, and Mr. Uribe's policies are likely to further polarize a nation that has had violence woven into the fabric of society by presidents like him. Also, several thousand guerrillas have been assassinated after having laid down their weapons. This will have to be looked at very carefully if Uribe is sincere about his reintegration plan. Other policies by the current government are likely to cause even greater problems. For instance, Uribe's informant program threatens to pit neighbor against neighbor and create a situation reminiscent of "La Violencia," in which some 200,000 Colombians were sent to an early grave.
Halifax, Nova Scotia
"Bush strides into the age of American dominance" ( May 30) may best describe how other countries now view us. To rule, to control, to command from a position of supremacy - and now to occupy - all smack of imperialism. Better that America should lead by guiding, serving, suggesting, questioning, inspiring, and mediating. Exerting muscular power over others never brings lasting solutions.
Whether interventionism is the right policy or not for the US boils down to the choice of giving up the fight against terrorism and adhering to the terrorists' requests and conditions - which means losing our freedom in exchange for a "peaceful" existence in a fanatic Islamic world - or protecting our freedom by fighting terrorism and those that promote it with all the resources we have.
Those who think that global terrorism will fade and go away if the US and the rest of the world don't fight it, fail to recognize the seriousness of the situation. Every country is already stricken by these sleeper cells that wait patiently for the right day. Now all they lack is nuclear bombs to fulfill their dream. Interventionism by all the free countries is the only answer to save the free world from terrorists who are ready to blow themselves up in strategic places where the most damage would be caused.
Regarding the May 23 article, "Butterfly secret revealed": Could we perhaps try tethering scientists so that they fly in place inside a drum, exposed to constant light? This might enable us to "nail down" the explanation for human willingness to inflict suffering on other species simply to find out why they behave as they do. Why? Isn't it enough just to marvel at the beauty and capabilities of our fellow creatures?
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