The Aug. 6 article, "Why Europe, US differ on Mideast," was right on the mark as far as Europe not endorsing the use of force because they have already suffered from it. Because the United States itself has never suffered the consequences of modern warfare – has never been bombed on its own soil – it is all too quick to use that as a first resort without regard for the consequences.
Living for two years in Germany, I learned from friends the pains of war that don't cease when wars end. Deaths also continue. For 20 years after the war, farmers and construction workers were blown up by bombs that hadn't detonated on impact.
I had an unsettling experience that just touched the fringes of what that was like for my German friends. Our children were cleared from the playground on our American Military Casern because someone thought an undetonated bomb was buried there. After a sweep of the entire playground with the detectors, our children went back to play in an area that never quite seemed secure again.
With respect, I suspect the differences between the US and Europe over the Middle East are far more profound than the Aug. 6 article, "Why Europe, US differ on Mideast," suggests.
The position is made more confusing in that leaders such as British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Angela Merkel subscribe almost completely to US opinions, but they do not reflect the vast bulk of public opinion in Europe.
The article touches on the "war on terror" but only to suggest that Europeans are more reluctant for selfish reasons to resort to violence. In fact, the differences are monumental. Americans really seem to see the world in terms of good and evil, more appropriate to the Lord of The Rings than to reality. They seem to picture themselves riding out on white chargers and rescuing damsels in distress.
To Europeans, "terrorism" is not an enemy. It is a tactic used by the militarily weak to fight their case – sometimes a valid case and sometimes not. It is no more an enemy than any other tactic.
The final factor I will refer to is the fear of being labeled "anti-Semitic." In the US, this fear seems real. In Europe, where there is little genuine anti-Semitism of any kind, such accusations carry far less weight.
I read with interest the Aug. 4 article, "Wrong-domain man and other Web intrigue," about e-mails mistakenly sent to an unintended person who has the same name as the intended recipient. I have experienced this on two occasions.
On the first occasion, I received a joke in an e-mail sent from someone I did not recognize. I responded and thanked the person for the joke, and I asked who she was and why she was sending me the joke. She responded, "Dad, it's me." Quite a shock for someone who has never fathered a child.
On another occasion, I received an e-mail from a businessman inquiring if I had time to consider his business proposition. Again, I wrote back and told the person he obviously had me confused with someone else.
I have also been confused with other persons of the same name while talking on the phone. Recently, an irate husband called to ask if I was the Charles Kempf that had been seeing his wife. Again, not me.
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