As American troops leave Iraq, a reader offers his view of the lessons to be learned. Other letters today deal with turkey dinner, molten salt, and corruption in China.
The message of this war
I see five lessons in the US withdrawal from Iraq (US defence chief: Iraq war was worth the blood and money, December 16):
1) In international conflicts it is crucial to get the homework right. The invasion of Iraq was justified on incorrect grounds, without which the war could have been averted.
2) Understand the local cultural terrain before engaging. Americans won the military war easily but then Iraqi groups commenced extracting bloody vengeance from each other.
3) Models of governance cannot be imposed from the top. They have to evolve, bottom-up. While a democratic format of a government has been introduced in Iraq, it will be decades before democratic institutions evolve satisfactorily.
4) You must carry the international community with you. In Iraq the US and UK were at times highly isolated.
5) No amount of analysis will restore the lives of the thousands of Americans, and tens of thousands of Iraqis, who died.
Discretion is the better part of valour. Armed conflicts are best avoided as a means of resolving political strife and managing contentious leaders like Saddam Hussein.
Rajendra K Aneja, Dubai
Nice to have holiday choices
Thank you for the story Turkey with all the cut price trimmings (December 18), which was part of your food-price package.
It's good to know prices are low but as expatriates having our first December here, we are still dithering over whether to cook a turkey,
I say part of the experience of being here is foregoing the secular traditions - turkey dinner, decorated tree, gifts - which have grown up in the West around the religious holiday of Christmas.
But my husband replies that he wants to continue all the family traditions.
Our children, meanwhile, say they just want some presents.
Whatever we do, it is a pleasure to be living here where we have the options - and cheap food as well.
And the December 25 weather will surely be better than back home in Cleveland.
Carol MacNeill, Dubai
Solar-salt plant deserves attention
Thank you for Power play in Abu Dhabi (December 17).
I think Masdar should team up with local universities and technical institutes to get technologies such as this one researched and developed locally.
Even if it ends up costing a bit more, which I doubt it would, at least Masdar will have given the local R&D efforts (which are poorly supported by industries here) a much-needed boost, and it could still go on to sell the technology to other users.
Ziad Qushair, Abu Dhabi
This salt technology is the most useful kind of solar power.
And since the UAE is at least as sun-drenched as Spain, this technology should do well here.
Joe Burns, Abu Dhabi
Delaying Iran is not a bad idea
I refer to Israel's war drums over Iran drown out common sense (December 7).
The argument that an Israel attack will simply delay Iran's production of an A-bomb for a few years at best is oxymoronic. Isn't that better than being attacked with an A-bomb?
Also, the article argues that Iran is intransigent in the face of threats, but then suggests diplomacy, which makes little sense.
When all else fails, clubs are trump.
David Friedland, US
Chinese regime really a dynasty
I was struck by the latest story about Chinese people denouncing corrupt local officials (Defiant villagers rally against land seizures, December 19).
I am reminded that long before Communist rule, the Chinese had an aphorism about just such local corruption: "Heaven is high and the emperor is far away."
Alan Brassard, Dubai
US Muslims not depicted fairly
This is about your story TV show All-American Muslim aims to demonstrate average life (December 5).
I am not a fan of this "reality" show, for several reasons. Even its name is troublesome; the persons featured in no way represent all American Muslims.
The show fails to incorporate the multi-ethnicity so widely recognised on the American scene, and dismisses the African-American Muslim community.
Most American Muslims are Sunni, but the show emphasises Shia Islam. Also offensive is the attempt to "Americanise" Islam by showing that you can be a good Muslim but be scantily dressed and talk about premarital sex.
Name withheld by request