Offering solutions to the tragedy
By Marvin Gregory

Many letters being written to the newspapers over the attacks on the New York Trade Centre and the Pentagon concern themselves with frustration, anger and revenge. We, as a people, want to get even; and we are in a damn-the-torpedoes sort of mood.

All of this, while understandable because of our anger, is not fully rational.

Terrorism is an attack by the weak against the strong. But, more importantly, it is often an attack by the weak against the civil society of the strong. As long as we have a free and open society, we can't really protect ourselves against individuals and small groups who are willing to sacrifice their lives in a war for their political or religious causes. Nor can we strike back with much, if any, effectiveness. The real danger is that any reprisal or military action on our part will create whole nations shot through with terrorists.

We need to do a number of things, and they involve rational choices, not anger.

First, we need to move our troops and military equipment away from Mecca and Medina so that we do not continue to soil those holy spots of the Arab world.

Second, we need to step away completely from Israel so that the Israeli-Palestinian dispute can be resolved without our acting as a friend and protector of Israel.

Third, we need to lift sanctions against nations around the world in order that we can't be seen as an unfeeling and unthinking giant, concerned only with our own welfare.

Fourth, we need to do a complete about-face in which we end the war against Iraq and then give them supplies to rebuild their nation and the health of their citizens.

Fifth, we should lead the effort to forgive the debts of developing nations.

Finally, we need to revise our thinking about our place in the world so that from here on out, our foreign policy reflects our wish to both keep a low profile and yet act benevolently towards other nations.

All of this may not markedly decrease the threat directed against us, but at least it will give us a moral and philosophical base on which to stand.

Mr. Gregory is a resident of Seattle, Washington.

By Tom Robertson

Figure out the full cost of launching a full military attack on the Taliban. Use one-half of that amount to buy U.S. and Russian wheat and rice. Ship it via B-52s, C-5As and leased Russian AN-124 super transports to Kabul and other airports in Afghanistan.

Set up local co-ops for the distribution of that food at below-market prices. Use the proceeds to pay for agricultural services that would also be augmented by the resources of the United States Agency for International Development, United Nations, and others.

The air crews -- particularly the pilots and the truck drivers -- should be women. Make sure the people in the region know that.

At the same time, work with the local people to build practical models of what they and the region are about and what they can do with a variety of resources over a variety of time frames.

Set up a $1,000 reward for Afghani citizen disclosure of Taliban members, with a $10,000 reward to be paid upon conviction or other resolution of justice resulting from the original reward.

Make a place where people are required to attend and can state their interests without fear of intimidation and retribution.

And this is just a start.