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Americans can't rescue the Middle East

To the editor: In comparing early post-communist Eastern Europe and the Mideast, Mieczyslaw P. Boduszynski and Cameron Munter leave something important out: There are vast political, social and economic differences between the two. ("The path of post-Soviet Europe isn't on the map in the Middle East," Op-Ed, Nov. 14)

Most Middle Eastern countries are a result of the machinations of colonial powers and the arbitrary boundaries established after World War I. They are much less developed economically than most European countries. Where similar conditions have existed in Europe, such as in the former Yugoslavia, there has been comparable strife.

Finally, the authors perpetuate the myth that all that is necessary are the "right" U.S. policies. What better example of the failure of this thinking than the Iraqi Army's collapse even after tens of billions of dollars spent and years of training by the U.S. military?

The U.S. can't solve these countries' problems. What they need is enlightened and selfless leadership among their elites.

Gary Page, Hemet

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To the editor: Boduszynski and Munter devote more than 800 words to the U.S.' difficulties in promoting the rise of democracy in the Middle East, yet mention Israel not once.

Without question, the relationship between the U.S. and that region's one example of the type of democracy we purport to encourage is a sensitive subject to many people. But any discussion of our policies respecting democracy in the Middle East that omits this crucial factor is ridiculous on its face.

Mark McCormick, Los Angeles

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To the editor: The sad fact is that since 2001, American attempts to foster democracy in the Mideast have not been successful. Islamic State has emerged in Iraq and Syria, Libya is in chaos, and the democratically elected government of Egypt was overthrown.

If the autocratic governments in the Mideast are bad for their people and the world, then some approach other than replacing autocracies with democracies needs to happen. Stop relying on the formation of democracies, since they can make (and have made) things worse.

Marc Jacobson, Los Angeles

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