Readers praised Fareed Zakaria for his Nov. 6 story on the way out of Iraq. One suggested, "Bush should appoint him his political adviser." Another recommended a "change of regime in America." Most others congratulated Zakaria or thanked him for his views "as the only way out."
Bridging East and West Congratulations on the balanced coverage in your Dec. 11 article "Who Lost Turkey?" The recent imbroglio between the EU and Turkey has been fueled by emotion, misperceptions and a great deal of hype. Europe and Turkey deserve better. The sweeping reforms made in Turkey during the four years that the AK Party has held a majority have been nothing less than revolutionary. The benefits are impressive: economic growth is strong, foreign direct investment is surging, inflation is under control and business corruption has been severely reduced. Nongovernmental organizations now operate in an environment akin to Europe's. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's efforts on the international scene to bridge the Muslim world and the West have been underestimated. Few, for example, have watched how Erdogan and Malaysian Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi have helped mold the Organization of the Islamic Conference into a beachhead for moderation in the Islamic world. Pope Benedict XVI spoke eloquently in Turkey about the possibility of a bright future in Christian-Muslim relations, as well as Turkey's integration into Europe. It would be a tragedy if the EU and the wider West undermine the essential role that Turkey could play in bridging the East and West politically, economically and socially. Turkey is not lost. Let's take the emotion and fear out of the conversation.
John Edwin Mroz
I would like to congratulate Fareed Zakaria on his Nov. 6 cover story, "Rethinking Iraq: The Way Forward." He analyzes the situation in Iraq and proposes a plan for a successful withdrawal from the Iraqi quagmire. President Bush would do well to appoint Zakaria as his political adviser.
As for how to get out of Iraq, a change of government in the United States would be a start. The removal of those responsible for the war in Iraq would be appropriate even if bringing them to justice is too much to hope for. But what is really needed is a major change in ideology. Americans must be aware of the extent of the catastrophe that has been brought about by a handful of their politicians. Hundreds of thousands have died. Millions have suffered. The vast majority of these were innocent children, women and men. It should never be permitted to happen again. Simply changing the government will not provide such a guarantee.
Fareed Zakaria says, "If American forces were to leave tomorrow, it is all but certain that the bloodletting would spread like a virus." That would have been the case if they had left last year and will be the case if they leave in three years, five years, 10 years or beyond. On their departure, there will be either a military coup or a civil war that breaks up the country. Therefore, the obvious question is: in the face of the inevitable, how many Americans have to lose their lives unnecessarily in the meantime?
Getting out of Iraq is not an option available to the Americans right now. As Fareed Zakaria suggests, a continuous scaling down of U.S. troop presence is the only way out. How many years an entire pullout will take cannot be predicted at this stage. All warring factions have to sincerely want a unified state, and only then can a shared, unbiased, coalition type of government be formed. America has to ascertain how it can coax these separate factions to talk to each other. But given the amount of mistrust that has built up among the Iraqis against the United States, cajoling will be futile if America is the lone arbitrator. Neighboring countries should play a significant role to help quell the bloodshed. Considering America's strained relations with Iran and Syria, the situation is an unenviable predicament. All we can hope is for the fighting groups to come to their senses, lay down their weapons and work with each other to rebuild this already ravaged country--for the sake of their children, for their future.
"Rethinking Iraq" is worth reading. I hope that people throughout the world have an opportunity to discover that there are some voices in the United States trying to propose new ways to get out of the Iraq quagmire. I don't know for sure if these propositions are enough, but one thing surprises me: Why do Americans--Zakaria included--think they can solve the Iraq puzzle alone? Why do they not think that other countries could help them? From Europe to the Middle East and the United Nations, it's time to work out a plan for Iraq together.
Jean-François Le Marec
I would like to thank you for "rethinking Iraq." Fareed Zakaria presents a good plan on how the "crisis" in Iraq could be defused. He says that "with planning, intelligence, execution and luck," the U.S. intervention could end without massive bloodshed. But intelligence is precisely what President Bush lacks. He does not have a clue about what is going on in Iraq. It takes only a bit of intelligence and common sense to understand that a solution like the one Zakaria suggests is best both for the States and for Iraq. In fact, the president should go to Baghdad and speak to the Iraqi people, saying something like: "I'm sorry, we made a mistake. There were no weapons of mass destruction. But, hey, we freed you of your dictator, and now we'd like to give you a hand in rebuilding your country to live in peace!" This would be an act of true greatness that would make even Al Qaeda change its opinion of the United States.
The Shiites who control the Iraqi government have fooled Bush into using American troops to fight Sunnis by using Al Qaeda as a scare tactic. Al Qaeda was brought to Iraq by the U.S. invasion--it has no roots there, and it will disappear if the U.S. troops stop following the sectarian Shiite leaders' orders to attack Sunni Arabs, who feel ganged up against by the Shiites, Iran, America and even the Kurds. Shiites are using U.S. troops to help Iran's agenda in controlling Iraq. The only hope of fixing Bush's fiasco in Iraq is to impose a secular Shiite Iraqi leader on the country. The United States is trying to do this now with the democratically elected Palestinian Hamas government. So why not in Iraq, where the elections were far from being democratic?
The United States is in dire straits in Iraq and is now looking for an escape route. However difficult the conditions might be, a nation talking of global leadership can't simply pack up and go, shirking all responsibility--particularly in a situation of its own making. Leaving Iraq without establishing a broader political framework for its future system of governance would be in nobody's interest. As a step in that direction, and in order to ensure America's smooth exit from Iraq, involvement of Iraq's neighbors--Iran in particular--is crucial. That means bringing all the parties to the negotiating table, a feat that could be accomplished only under the aegis of the United Nations. The U.N. can actively play a constructive role and salvage some of the credibility it lost in 2003 when the United States went ahead with the invasion of Iraq. Making headway with Iran and Syria might have implications of wider magnitude that may not jibe with the interests of America. But there is no other way out now.
R. K. Sudan
Iraq is a nation like India before its partition--large ethnic groups that hate each other, a powder keg ready to explode. The only way to stop the country from devolving into a bloodbath is to sit down with all involved parties and give them an ultimatum: either agree to an absolute truce, weapons surrender and peace talks with one another, or face dismantling of the country as it is partitioned into Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite countries with proper borders. Have the United Nations supervise the movements of people and set up proper hospital and school facilities in these regions, and maintain border integrity until each new country has a standing army of its own that can take over. It is a radical solution, but it might work.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Zakaria makes many suggestions for "The Road Out of Iraq." The time for United Nations or Arab League intervention in Iraq is past. The military option proved unsuccessful, and we cannot depend on Iraqi forces that are infiltrated by Iran-dominated Shiites. The Shiites won the elections in Iraq by default because the Sunnis did not fully participate, and because the Shiites' numbers are inflated by the influx of Iranian Shiites who make them appear to be a majority. Our responsibility is to force Iraqi Shiites to recognize this fact and have the Iraqi government plan new elections. We must bring Sunni insurgents into Iraq's armed forces by making a deal with them, because they control the real power in Iraq. Together with the Kurdish militia, they can form a core for a multisectarian army and police force that can bring the Iranian-supported Shiite militia to heel and eradicate Al Qaeda in Iraq. We can accomplish this only if we bring ourselves to negotiate with the insurgents and be prepared to give them a specific date for our departure. The alternative is a protracted sectarian and anti-American war.
Heskel M. Haddad, President
Thank you, NEWSWEEK, for Lucian Read's portfolio "A Battle for Every Life" (Nov. 6). Photos best expose reality--no article could have displayed as precisely as this portfolio how the surgeons, medics and corpsmen of Ramadi Surgical work and what they have to deal with. I tend to glance at a picture before moving on to the next one, but these photos grabbed my attention. The details reveal pure cruelty. Blood is everywhere in these pictures, along with the chaos and turmoil of battle--the battle for life. Read presents the pictures in black and white. I missed the shocking effect of the red of blood everywhere. In black and white, the scenes gain a kind of perverse esthetics.
As an ardent cafe patron with pure coffee in my veins, let me put your enjoyable piece on the café ("Art and a Cup of Joe," Oct. 16) in context. The café has been an important institution in our city's cultural and political life. It is the place to meet friends or date an acquaintance (Café Stein), to study for an exam (Café Haag) or to listen to Strauss's music while reading the newspaper (Café Bräunerhof). At the Landtmann, businessmen flesh out terms for new ventures, politicians puzzle over coalitions and actors have late-night meals after performances at the nearby Berg theater. The Hawelka has been a home to poor young artists for decades where they traded works for coffee, food and a heated place to work. Each café is unique: charming, comfortable, simultaneously a second home and a forum made into an institution by its patrons. It is a hangout and last resort. Waiters like (the now retired) Herr Robert of the Landtmann are highly respected characters, companions to their guests and sources of amusement and consolation. They know the latest rumors, both in the business and private spheres. From the café a whole literary genre emerged at the turn of the 19th century-- Kaffeehausliteratur, whose proponents produced some of the best literature of their time over a cup or three. They immortalized the café in their works, as did the painters you described. Café patrons are "people who want to be alone but require company for that," who are "not at home and yet not in fresh air." The tradition continues: the café is much more than a gathering ground for artists, it is a part of our hearts and souls.
Gerhard O. Rettenbacher