In Is 'responsibility to protect' in Syria an irresponsible idea? (February 16), Brian Kappler identifies concerns that many sceptics share. But he harms the debate more than he addresses the particular arguments we made in A responsibility to Syria: set up a humanitarian corridor (February 15).
Kappler draws a caricature of international law and relations. He treats "states" as boxes, divorcing "sovereignty" from binding obligations underpinning the notion, and anachronistically judging a norm against experiences pre-dating its emergence in 1648.
In his history of world order, he forgets the "Westphalian system", initially a club of European monarchies, emerged fully during the mid-20th century as the age of empires closed and the concept of self-determination - another "irresponsible idea" - took root.
Syria didn't exist in 1920. In the 1980s, the world reacted with indifference as the Syrian regime slaughtered tens of thousands of people. Things change. So does the law.
As if we never wrote that "the interplay of power politics and humanitarian standards" drove European intervention in the Ottoman Empire, he demands a single case of "genuine, disinterested effective humanitarian intervention". Justice has never been free of human self-interest. Rather, human self-interest - in security, for instance - is the foundation of justice in all its forms.
He believes "misses" - cases in which crimes occurred - discredit rules or their application. But even domestically, with vast authorities to act, officials in all states "miss" or acquiesce to crimes - from cartel killings to petty thefts - because of practical constraints, including political will and financial resources. That doesn't discredit the idea that laws must be enforced.
Actually, these "misses" have driven sovereign states to accede to an increasingly robust international system. Most recently, the international community - including Syria under the Assad regime - unanimously reiterated that R2P essentially emphasises "established international law".
Finally, a humanitarian corridor is just one option among many permitted under international law. But here's one question: what would you suggest?
Anthony Elghossain and Firas Maksad, United States
Insurance solution for circumcision
I refer to the article Mufti: circumcision costs burden the poor (February 12). I suggest that insurance companies look into the matter and come up with an apt solution. It is a very important issue that should not be shunned.
French election is landmark in EU
In the news story Scandals hurt Sarkozy's re-election hopes (February 16), the French president Nicolas Sarkozy is eligible to run for a second successive and final term in the April 2012 presidential election.
Obviously Mr Sarkozy has German chancellor Angela Merkel on his side as can be seen in her statements to Der Spiegel, such as: "I support Sarkozy on all levels, because we belong to political parties that are friends." But this foreign support may not be what is necessary on domestic issues.
French people know very well that Socialist candidate Francois Hollande is opposed to everything Ms Merkel has been trying to do in Europe and that Mr Sarkozy has no instruments to turn France into Germany.
France has been seduced into becoming nothing more than the willing partner of its traditional enemy, Germany, since Mr Sarkozy assumed the office in May 2007. That hurts the French.
Similarly, the face of French euro-scepticism, Marine Le Pen, rejects the European project, which is synonymous with unemployment, immigration, social breakdown and insecurity.
It will be interesting to watch French voters in April 2012 voting for or against the European project.
Begum Budak, Turkey
Fishermen killing must be punished
The article Italian marines face murder charges for shooting Indian fishermen (February 18) was sad to read. The two innocent civilians were shot in Kerala by the Italian merchant ship guards. Whatever the reasons, this incident is not acceptable.
The Indian government should act swiftly and work with the Italian government to punish those responsible. I pray for the victims.
K Ragavan, India
People find divide even in fun shows
A reader commented on the article TV show All-American Muslim aims to demonstrate average life (December 5) saying the show is not representative of all Muslims.
Dearborn has the largest Muslim community with the largest mosque in North America. What does this have to do with being Sunni or Shia? In the end, it's entertainment.
Ali Hamadeh, Lebanon