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U.S. must keep pledge of aid for Afghanistan

Larry Goodson's incisive article on the U.S. role in Afghanistan exposes the folly of President Bush's ostrich-like campaign statements rejecting "nation-building" ("A stable Afghan future requires more of U.S.," Sept. 8).

The United States contributed mightily to Afghanistan's downfall with a shortsighted policy in the 1980s. The enemy of our enemy (the Soviet Union) had to be our friend, no matter the atrocities committed by our then-allies among the fundamentalist Muslims.

This paved the way for the disintegration of the country and allowed the Taliban and al-Qaida to establish themselves. Most Afghans have suffered horribly and untold millions have died.

Our military effort in Afghanistan was crafted to avoid civilian casualties but, still, more people died in that effort. Do we owe the Afghan people generous help in rebuilding their country? Of course.

How disheartening to read in Mr. Goodson's article and learn that we are failing to keep the meager aid promises we made to the Afghan people.

Now, the Bush administration proposes to use military force to create regime change in Iraq, by implication acknowledging a post-war nation-building obligation there.

Why would any Arab or Muslim believe in our honorable intentions toward Iraq when we weasel on our sacred pact with the people in Afghanistan?

Charlie Cooper


Hatred hampers holiday reflection

The Sun's article on the pre-holiday mood in Jerusalem suggests that I said "it is difficult for people to turn inwards when there is so much hatred directed toward the Palestinians" ("In Israel, pause for prayer," Sept. 5).

The last part of that statement should read, "when there is so much hatred directed toward Israel by the Palestinians." This gives an obviously different thrust to my words. That the paraphrase is inaccurate is clear from the next several paragraphs in which I deplore the depth of Arab hatred for the Jewish people.

The High Holidays are a time of introspection. When there is mayhem in the streets, it is not easy to take the time to look into one's own self and to attempt to come closer to our maker.

Rabbi Emanuel Feldman

Jerusalem, Israel

Bush's saber rattling alters the agenda

The Sun's editorial "Why we have allies" (Sept. 8) urging the president not to "bull ahead alone against Iraq" is a welcome contribution to the debate on whether we should go to war. What's missing, however, in most of the coverage and editorializing is any reflection on why war with Iraq has so pre-empted our attention in recent weeks.

Earlier in the summer, the American public was interested in some pressing domestic concerns -- the plunging stock market, corporate ethics, the possibility that both President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney might have engaged in dubious business practices. Now little is heard of these matters, no doubt to the administration's enormous relief.

Is it possible the president's tough talk is a strategy -- not for dealing with an international menace, but for distracting Americans from closer-to-home embarrassments?

Neil Hertz


NAACP has no role in partisan politics

The Sun's editorial "Power politics" (Sept. 12) erroneously accused me, and by association the NAACP, of participating in partisan politics by working for the election of Lisa A. Gladden to the Maryland Senate.

The NAACP has worked in Maryland and nationally to generate large voter turnout. Our get-out-the-vote program was successful in registering millions of new African-American voters nationally.

This effort is credited with helping produce the large African-American voter turnout in the 2000 presidential election.

However, Internal Revenue Service law forbids the NAACP, as a 501(c)3 organization, from participating in partisan politics. And as the president and CEO of the association, I have also refrained from engaging in partisan politics. To suggest without fact that I did otherwise is just wrong.

Ms. Gladden and her former opponent are both caring citizens whom I know and respect. However, in compliance with the law, I did not strategize, endorse or "shake money trees" for her or any other candidate, Democratic or Republican.

Kweisi Mfume


The writer is president and CEO of the NAACP.

Don't shut out independent voters

Last Tuesday, my 17- month- old son, my 4- year- old daughter, my wife and I walked to our polling place to vote. The election officials told us that we could not vote because we are registered as independents. Do you have to be a Democrat to vote? Do you have to be a Republican to vote? It is a shame that the state of Maryland seems afraid of independent-minded voters.

Ahmad Montazer


Flourishing economy will sustain our goals

I think that what's asked of us today is to keep living life the way we did before Sept. 11 and drive the economy ("A year at war," editorial, Sept. 7).

Instead of flocking to join the military or work in the factories as Americans did in 1942, we are charged with fueling the economy that drives our whole effort and defines what we can accomplish.

That's where the sense of purpose can be found today.

P.G. Wist


Foster parents need to take responsibility

The Sun's article "Audit finds lapses in Maryland's foster care" (Aug. 23) talks only about the social workers handling these cases. But we already know there are too many cases for any social worker and that these people are overburdened and underpaid.

Still, they have a job to do and losing a child is not acceptable. The question that keeps coming back to me is: Why is it that nowhere in the article was the burden put on the foster parents?

Don't the foster parents have to make sure these kids go to school? And that these kids get their immunizations and checkups, and get fed, clothed, etc.? It is not the social worker's responsibility to visit every child's home every day. I believe foster parents are compensated for taking these children into their homes. Where are they when it comes to responsibility?

Rita Chelton


Offering thanks to all Big Brothers

My tremendous thanks to Steve Friess who, along with other Big Brothers and Big Sisters, bestows on young children the gentle and tender touches they otherwise might never experience ("Small minds can't grasp gays' role as Big Brothers," Opinion * Commentary, Aug. 21).

Only by seeing Big Brothers and Big Sisters in action, and feeling their warmth, will some of these young folks ever know how to be a parent when the time comes.

Kathleen M. Pugh

Ellicott City

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