Dealing with Iran

Re Opinion, April 15

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) might want to wake up. We don't need to rely on our intelligence to be right. Every day Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is telling us his country is enriching uranium and wants to annihilate Israel and the Anglo-Saxons (e.g. us). I believe him.

One question, senator: Is it all right to respond after Israel is wiped off the map, or should we go to the United Nations first?

STEVEN LACHMAN
La Quinta

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While Feinstein is right in urging that this administration seek a diplomatic solution to Iran's nuclear capabilities, she is not forthright about the source of the problem. Nowhere does she mention that Iran, a signatory of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, might reasonably wish to protect itself against the militaristic Israeli state, which has nuclear weapons has never signed the treaty and is thus not subject to the same standards of inspection as participants are.

The only workable solution to nuclear arms in the Middle East is a regional treaty that would level the playing field, with all parties subject to the same restrictions and international oversight. To achieve such a solution, however, supporters of Israel such as Feinstein have to come clean about its nuclear arsenal and assume an even-handed position with both countries.

MIRIAM M. REIK
New York

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How ironic to see Feinstein write a column on the avoidance of a confrontation between Iran and the United States. Feinstein writes to warns us to avoid the mistake of the Iraq war — a war that she voted for, against the wishes of her constituents.

Perhaps it should be the people of California writing an article telling her to avoid the mistake she made in the U.S.-Iraqi war.

JOHN A. HAAG III
Long Beach

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Why is President Bush escalating his rhetoric about Iran right now? Experts agree that Iran is five to 10 years away from producing a nuclear bomb, if that is its goal. There is only a short period until the next election at home, however, and Republicans stand to lose control of Congress because of Bush's unpopularity. Would the Bush administration purposely inflame tensions to heighten the president's popularity before an election? I'm afraid the answer is yes.

CHARLES MARK-WALKER
North Hills, Calif.

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How dare Iran attempt to defend itself against our threat of using nuclear weapons against it?

GERTA FARBER
Berkeley

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Saving a piece of history

Re editorial, April 13

Re Attacking antiquities dealer Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos and her alleged lack of legality in dealing with the Gospel of Judas: I suggest that you wake up. The "shady world of illegal antiquities dealing" and its "unsavory market" are a reality, regardless of your apparently wishful thinking to the contrary. Just how many great revelations about actual history would you suppress because the revealer lacks the characteristics of an angel?

I suggest that you focus on the message rather than devoting so much energy to attacking the messenger. There were numerous brands of early Christianity, some radically different from and opposed to the proto-orthodox one that went on to become the orthodox — one that eagerly and enthusiastically suppressed all of its Christian competitors as alleged heresies, not to mention its suppression of other totally non-Christian religions. Gnostic Christians naturally considered it to be the anti-Gnostic Christians that were the real heretics, much as current-day Christian fundamentalists commonly view all non-fundamentalist Christians.

LEON ALBERT
Temple City

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Your editorial takes National Geographic to task for its role in the conservation and dissemination of the Gospel of Judas. We believe we did our best to establish the details of the document's past, including its "colorful journey" since its rediscovery in Egypt. We oversaw a comprehensive evaluation of its authenticity and did extensive due diligence related to many issues. We partnered with the Maecenas Foundation to conserve and translate the document, share the results with the world and repatriate the artifact to Egypt.

Our partnership with Maecenas and the support of the Waitt Institute for Historical Discovery were mentioned in all our media. We publicly acknowledged we paid slightly more than $1 million to Maecenas for the conservation and the media rights, an arrangement that includes a royalty share from some product sales. We reported in the National Geographic Channel documentary that Frieda Nussberger-Tchacos sold the document to the Maecenas Foundation. National Geographic has no legal, financial or other arrangement with Tchacos. Without intervention at a critical time, this document would likely have deteriorated further. The opportunity to conserve and share its contents and spark a global dialogue about its significance would have been lost.

TERRY GARCIA
Executive Vice President
Mission Programs
National Geographic Washington

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iraq">Zealot's actions no surprise

Re April 15

The story of suicide bomber Raed Mansour Albanna is horrifying — but not particularly surprising. Despite this administration trying to pretend that the enemy's grievances are primarily political, the reality is that our enemy is an ideology: Islamic fundamentalism.

Would Albanna's actions have been any less reprehensible if he'd killed 132 Iraqis with more conventional methods rather than with a car bomb? It is not their method that should scare us, it is their desire to force the world to return to the 14th century. Nuclear weapons in the hands of such people should be unthinkable. The possibility that the world cannot muster the resolve to stop Iran — by whatever means necessary — is much scarier to me than another well-educated, "he-was-such-a-nice-guy" fanatic blowing himself to pieces. STEWART MARGOLIS
Los Angeles

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This story can only be viewed as a success for Osama bin Laden and his followers, and a failure brought on by the Bush administration's policies in Iraq. This story is what Bin Laden wanted to see happen after 9/11: a clash of civilizations that forces ordinary citizens to falsely chose between the West and Islam. Americans should not be surprised upon reading this story; they should be angry that the world has been hijacked by zealots from both regions: Ayman Zawahiri, Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Bin Laden, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

CHRIS YANG
Rancho Palos Verdes

Re "Messianic Fervor Grows Among Iran's Shiites," April 15

The article on Iranian messianism suggests that some Westerners are worried Iranians may be irrational. So, are Bush's messianism and his desire to nuke Iran more rational? I am more worried about Bush's rationalism than about Iran's threat.

DONALD M. LOWE
Professor Emeritus of History
San Francisco State University

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Inspiration and religion

Re "Catholic confessions," Opinion, April 16

I am not a Catholic, but in a day when the extreme religious right and various esoteric forms of Christianity are causing so much confusion to both individuals and society, I read with deep appreciation Gregory Rodriguez's modest, reasoned yet firm convictions regarding the value of church affiliation. Mr. Rodriguez, you are an inspiration to many of us.

KENNETH DALE
Claremont

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