NYTimes, on bin Laden, raises big questions

On September 11, _The New York Times Magazine_ featured Osama bin Laden on its cover, to draw readers into an article, inside, by Mark Danner. Danner dares to think the reaction of the USA to global terrorism is wrong.

One reader responded (Letters, Sept. 25) that _The NY Times_ was returning to prophecy as it had done 40 years ago. Another fully agreed: the two letters bookended the entire page of heartfelt responses.

In between: Danner criticized the administration but offered no alternative: shame!; watch out for Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, further threats to free world; question: what is it that we are fighting for?; many returning soldiers feel something good is happening in Iraq; why did Danner not deal with Israel’s terrorism?; USA wrongly chose a “forever war,” it was not inevitable; don’t forget Pew survey saying Muslim support for terrorism is diminishing in parts of the world.

. I’m struck by the one that says soldiers in Iran often see good things happening — Iraquis in localities want democracy and there is much support for what the soldiers are doing.

I’m also struck by the work, over many years, of the American Peace Corps. And by the work of the tiny American churches (Mennonite, Brethren, Friends) who place volunteers without guns in the midst of the most dangerous conflicts on earth, to make the point that the solution to violence is not more violence.

Many authorities admit that the USA military — any military — is trained to scare the hell out of people, not make friends, or even, with the exception of military police, to do peacekeeping.

I can see why the neo-cons controlling our society for a full generation now think as they do. They embody the negative side of defensiveness. But why is it that citizens and most of our legislative representatives exhibit that same sense of dangers that we must eradicate before they eradicate us? A clinical psychologist could be excused for declaring an individual who feels this way to be sick. Very sick.

_If Iraquis welcome the peaceable things we do, why not do more of that?_ And less of the god-awful threatening we do day and night, to no positive avail? And because the latter is wrong and the former is right. _–Bob Cramer._