"Oil-hungry Americans are the chief source of funds for the Saudis, who have long financed terrorist groups. Whose side are we on?"
Your article on Saudi Arabia and its state religion, Wahhabism, revealed the limitations of the U.S.'s strategy in the war on terrorists [AFTER 9/11: THE SAUDIS, Sept. 15]. Afghanistan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia or any other state is not our ultimate enemy in this war; intolerant beliefs like Wahhabism are. Installing friendly governments in Afghanistan and Iraq or dropping smart bombs is not enough to defeat that enemy. We must invest in the foundations of Islamic society and support the mosques, madrasahs and imams committed to a moderate, tolerant and responsible interpretation of Islam.
New York City
In searching for the root cause of 9/11, many Americans have long suspected that we need look no further than Riyadh. Whether financing terrorists with oil money or indoctrinating them with fanatical hatred of the West, Saudi Arabia should be viewed not as America's ally but as the primary target in the war on terrorism.
We Saudis are tired of being considered evil. We live in an independent and sovereign country. What we do with our money is not the U.S.'s business. Do we interfere in America's private affairs?
The scattered arrests of Islamic militants hardly address the true threat that is woven into the fabric of Saudi society. The Bush Administration's actions in Iraq were supposed to rewrite U.S. policy in the Middle East, in effect proclaiming that autocratic, patrimonial rule would no longer be tolerated. But will we extend that same message to regimes that accommodate our need for oil? U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East can no longer afford to use soft words and receive token support from countries like Saudi Arabia that benefit our immediate interests but are unwilling to pursue and punish those who pose the gravest threats to the U.S.
Americans have always been interested in just one aspect of Saudi Arabia: oil. You have never dealt with our culture or our religion in a meaningful way, nor have you tried to understand our way of living and thinking. So why should we make concessions to the U.S. now?
ZAHRA WAHIDA MEIOUN
Dhahran, Saudi Arabia
Those who died on 9/11 deserve more than a cover-up of uncomfortable truths, including the fact that Saudi Arabia is no friend of the U.S.
Cape Coral, Fla.
The accusations against Saudi Arabia's fundamentalist Muslims are curious. Don't Osama bin Laden and the fundamentalists claim that the U.S. war on terrorism is really a war against Islam? If the U.S. continues on its present path, even more people will agree with the theory that the target is Islam, not terrorists. If we ask Saudi Arabia to change its religious beliefs, maybe we should ask a few fundamentalist groups in the U.S. to alter theirs too. After all, some of their leaders constantly attack Islam (and Catholicism). Their hateful preaching might make a few Wahhabis blush. Let us first stop the hate at home.
San Jose, Calif.
The war on terrorism really is a holy war, since so many moderate Muslims are standing by silently, out of complicity or fear, while gangsterlike extremists are defining a militant Islam for the next generation.
THOMAS W. DRAPER
It is an appalling irony that the U.S.'s addiction to oil (notably for large and powerful motor vehicles) not only props up Middle East tyrannies but also funds people dedicated to destroying America. Changing our automobile-dependent lifestyle would be immensely difficult and disruptive and would involve major battles with business interests, yet we absolutely must reduce our demand for petroleum to a level that can be supplied by countries that don't have links to international terrorism.
ROY A. MATTHEWS
--Readers had mixed feelings about the Sept. 15 cover illustration. While an Ohio woman was "relieved that TIME tastefully acknowledged the second anniversary of 9/11 without resorting to garish displays," a Californian was not pleased, declaring, "Those three scowling, sunglasses-wearing men look as if you plucked them out of a cheap music video. It's an ugly stereotype, pandering to our worst prejudices." And a Belgian was even more piqued, saying, "Rarely have I seen a more racist cover picture or one more likely to reinforce misguided nationalism and resentment on both sides of the world."
Terrorist Breeding Grounds
In "Islam's Other Hot Spots" [After 9/11: Roots Of Terror, Sept. 15], you quoted a Pakistani Muslim student as saying "Since the days of the Prophet, there are only two forces on earth, Muslims and infidels. And their fight will go on until Judgment Day." That remark reminds me of the Marxist view that the world is divided into proletarians and capitalists. We're well aware of the destructive result of this doctrine. Unless Muslims can overcome the simplistic vision of the world as a place of two antagonistic realms, of believers and infidels, and embrace cultural diversity and religious tolerance, their relationship with the West will inevitably lead to conflict.
We need to hammer the two epicenters of terrorism, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, our backstabbing allies. Saudi Arabia may be the cradle of Islam, and Pakistan may have the bomb, but these two countries are playing us for fools.
Fort Worth, Texas