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Bread, not bombs… too big to jail… feed the world? first end poverty… patriotic heresy…

Stats for our times… what will be left of Texas?… not a pearl in Ethiopia’s ear… Moscow, Kiev and Austin?… or, a Gandhian Gangsta…

PLAYING POLITICS WITH MARRIAGE

Tampa, Fl.

In regard to the article "The Descent of Marriage?" (Feb. 27), I have to wonder about the strategy of President Bush's push for a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. I believe Bush is purely playing politics with the issue. By no means is this amendment a sure bet to be added to the US Constitution. Bush does not even have to sign his name upon Congress passing the amendment. To get the process started, Congress must pass the amendment. From there, it leaves federal jurisdiction and is entirely a state matter. Three-fourths of the state legislatures must pass it within a seven-year period. This is by no means an easy feat, because the state legislatures are overcome by such issues as budget deficits, lack of revenue sharing from the federal government, eroding tax bases, etc. The process takes time, and the states do not need another problem thrown at them by the federal government. If President Bush is serious about opposing gay marriage, why doesn't he just request that Congress pass a statute banning gay marriage, and after the bill is passed, just sign it? It seems like that would be an easier way to ban gay marriage, as opposed to the constitutional amendment route. This is a political year, however, and the President does not want to alienate any groups of people.

BRIAN DONOVAN



WHITHER THE MEK

Alexandria, VA

Dilip Hiro is absolutely correct in his depiction of Tehran's growing and dangerous influence in Iraq ("Iran and America: Watching Each Other Warily," March 9). Indeed, immediately after the end of major combat in Iraq, Tehran began its long-planned and well-conceived scheme to flex its muscle in Iraq by sending thousands of Revolutionary Guards and firebrand clerics to preach Khomeini's fundamentalist version of Islam.

Hiro is, however, wrong to suggest that the Iranian Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) provided "assistance to Saddam to crush the Shiite and Kurdish uprisings after the 1991 Gulf War." A May 22, 2002, dispatch by Reuters quoted a senior Iraqi Kurdish official as saying, "There was no evidence the Mujahedin took part in the Iraqi government's 1991 campaign against the Kurds."

The author's observation that the MEK represents the only effective buffer to Tehran's rising influence in Iraq is spot on. Not so much because of MEK's military prowess but because the MEK espouses a virulently anti-fundamentalist reading of Islam, which explains why the Tehran-inspired fundamentalists in Iraq did not carry much weight with the Iraqi populace so long as the MEK went about its business in Iraq prior to the war.

Unfortunately, by bombing MEK's camps and disarming its forces, at the behest of Tehran and its staunchest European ally, the British, the United States played right into the mullahs' hands, leaving the door wide open for the fundamentalist clerics to meddle in Iraq.

Better late than never. The cause of stability and democracy in Iraq today could be best served by a reversal in the inexplicable hostility of the State Department toward the MEK, the only Iranian opposition movement with sufficient military might, legitimacy in Iran and political clout internationally to unseat Tehran's turbaned tyrants.

ALI SAFAVI
President, Near East Policy Research



STANDING BY DEAN

Boulder Creek, Utah

I just read "Tripping on Internet Populism" by Micah L. Sifry (Feb. 16) and found it very interesting. However, as a member of the Dean Leaders grassroots group he mentions at the end of the piece, I'd like to correct a few things.

1. Yes, we were frustrated sometimes with the lack of response from Burlington. Frankly, they weren't growing as fast as we were, and they had other priorities at times than communicating with us.

2. Because of that, we did organize locally and nationally. However, few of us saw that as pulling away from the campaign in any way. Governor Dean always told us we had the power and that this was our campaign. We've remained true to that spirit.

3. While we are continuing to organize before the announcement from Governor Dean about his future plans, we remain committed to the ideals he ran on and look forward to working with him in the future. Howard Dean gave many of us back our political voice. We will not soon forget that, or the man who did it.

CHRIS FINNIE



SENATOR FROM WASHINGTON, DC?

Boulder, CO

Ronnie Dugger urges Ralph Nader to run for governor or senator, anything but President ("Progressives Should Vote Kucinich," Feb. 17). Last I checked, Ralph lives in the District of Columbia. Dugger should get his facts straight before making a bad argument, and editors at The Nation should check for problems before printing an inflammatory editorial.

I'm already reconsidering my new subscription to this publication.

PATRICK SMART

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