Lessons of past ignored in analysis of Al Qaeda

Re “Is Al Qaeda asking to negotiate?” Opinion, Sept. 19

It was an incredible experience reading Allen J. Zerkin’s suggestion of Plan B -- negotiations with Al Qaeda. It is reminiscent of Neville Chamberlain’s positive feedback from his meetings with “Herr Hitler.” Zerkin falls into the all-too-common fallacy of looking at our ideological enemies not through a looking glass but a mirror. A mirror that presupposes that Al Qaeda’s grievances are reasonable and territorial, much like Hitler’s fear of Czechoslovakia.

The wanton murder by Al Qaeda of innocents in Iraq and elsewhere in the world is simply inexplicable in Western terms, and has nothing to do with rational grievances. What legitimate grievances supported the original Muslim invasions of the Middle East, Africa and Europe in the 7th and 8th centuries?

Zerkin clearly has not learned from important lessons of the past.



Los Angeles


I’m having a difficult time understanding Zerkin’s analysis and message. Ayman Zawahiri, Al Qaeda’s second-in-command, said, “There will be no salvation until you withdraw from our land, stop stealing our oil and resources and end support for infidel, corrupt rulers.”


Of Zerkin I ask, what land and which oil and resources do Zawahiri and Osama bin Laden own? I thought the land, its oil and resources belonged to sovereign nations. By what citizenship or authority does Zawahiri or Bin Laden speak for the government of sovereign nations? It was my belief that Bin Laden is persona non grata in his native Saudi Arabia, and Zawahiri is a fugitive from Egypt.

The “infidel, corrupt rulers” are the government leaders of all Arab nations with ties to the West; the victims of Al Qaeda’s terrorism primarily have been Muslim citizens.


Mission Viejo