Re "Mideast Fighting Escalates," July 17
The conflict in the Middle East is escalating out of control. At the present rate, it is going to get much worse unless someone exercises some restraint.
The United States needs to tell Israel to back off -- all this bloodshed and destruction cannot help to bring peace in the region.
We are one of the few powers in the world that has enough clout to make Israel listen, as we supply Israel with a great deal of aid.
If we are going to be a world leader, there has never been a more important time to lead the world toward peaceful solutions rather than just watch it move toward World War III.
Re "Response and responsibility," editorial, July 17
Is it not irresponsible to unilaterally condemn one side while failing to address the devastating military campaign conducted within the last months by the Israeli military in the Palestinian territories?
Is it responsible for a state to destroy a sovereign nation in a matter of days when it is not even attacked by this nation, but by an entity within it? Is a state that has continuously and deliberately ignored U.N. Security Council resolutions responsible?
The great cynicism lies in not recognizing the irresponsible actions of Israel while finger-pointing elsewhere.
The Times is to be congratulated for its candor and directness in placing full responsibility on Hezbollah and Hamas for the current wave of violence in the Middle East.
Such candor can only help to awaken the hearts and minds of people of goodwill to take action to dismantle these terrorist organizations.
RABBI RONALD LEVINE
The war in Lebanon is rooted in Lebanon's lack of effective government. The present government was installed after Bush administration pressure on Syria, but it is a hollow government with no effective army or police force and no ability to prevent Hezbollah rocket attacks against Israel.
Now Syria and Iran can arm Hezbollah and encourage violence without direct responsibility. This is the same phony program that we are witnessing in Iraq and Gaza.
We forced them all to hold meaningless elections and trumpeted hollow democracy as a cure-all. In no case have we helped create the underlying institutions needed for effective government, and the result is gangster insurgencies run amok.
Sadly, repressive but effective governments are better than ineffective democracies -- at least you can hold them accountable, and their love of power makes them behave, if only a bit. When will we Americans demand competence from our government?
Re "Israel's risky response," editorial, July 14
The editorial's issues with Israel's "disproportionate" response seem to imply that the appropriate way to treat your enemy is to just hurt them a little more than they hurt you. This way your opponent will understand that you are serious, but things won't get out of hand.
Diplomacy and negotiation, not limited violence, are the appropriate way to try to send signals and keep a situation from getting out of hand.
The situation with the Palestinian Authority/Hamas and Hezbollah is already out of hand. Proportionality is really a demand that the stronger party fight at the level of the weaker party.
This is a cruel position leading to a drawn-out, slowly escalating conflict, like Vietnam.
History shows that the surest way to minimize the suffering of civilians is through a short war, and that requires the use of immediate and overwhelming force to gain clear objectives.
There are generally two objectives to which this force can be effectively applied: breaking the enemy's political will and breaking the enemy's military capability to pursue its political will. If war must be fought, it must be won.