January 20

Fareed Zakaria [“Fanning the Middle East flames,” Washington Forum, Jan. 17] argued that the United States should steer clear of intervening in the Syrian civil war, as U.S. involvement would only make matters “worse.”

Given that the conflict has created millions of Syrian refugees, cost more than 100,000 lives, provided new havens for al-Qaeda and is helping to destabilize Lebanon and Iraq, it is difficult to envision how a more muscular U.S. policy could make the situation any “worse.”

Meanwhile, there is no end in sight to the chaos. It is worth noting that while Mr. Zakaria doesn’t believe the Obama administration can shape events in Syria, al-Qaeda, Russia’s Vladi­mir Putin and Iran and its proxies have concluded that they can. While the United States sits on the bench, they feast on U.S. non-involvement, accumulating political influence and running up the score in the process.

The Obama administration’s passivity has been a disaster and signals to friend (such as Saudi Arabia) and foe alike that whatever the outcome in Syria, it will be acceptable to the United States.

Erik Lindell, East Greenbush, N.Y.

The Obama administration has responded with outrage to the release of scores of Islamist killers of U.S. troops by Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai, an action the administration sees as a threat to U.S. forces [“Envoy: Karzai unlikely to yield,” front page, Jan. 10]. Yet the Obama administration has pressured Israel into releasing scores of Palestinian killers of Israeli civilians and soldiers. The only time it expressed a reservation was when Israel released Al-Haaj Othman Amar Mustafa, who murdered Steven Frederick Rosenfeld, an American and former Marine.

If releasing those who killed Americans is contrary to justice, reason, deterrence and the security and safety of U.S. citizens — and it is — then it is no less contrary to justice, reason, deterrence and the security of Israel to release Palestinian killers of Israelis.

Morton A. Klein, New York

The writer is national president of the Zionist Organization of America.

According to State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki, U.S. officials “consider now and have always considered the settlements to be illegitimate” [“Israel confirms new settlement plans,” World, Jan. 11]. As The Post reported, “Most independent legal experts consider the Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, taken after the 1967 war, to be illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this.”

Why, then, does one U.S. administration after the other continue to ply Israel with annual military aid upwards of $3 billion? If the Obama administration really wanted to bring about a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, all it would have to do is stop — or even just threaten to stop — U.S. military aid to Israel. The fact that it hasn’t done so leads me to believe that the “peace talks” being promoted by the administration are disingenuous.

Joanne Heisel, Columbia

The writer is the coordinator of the Committee for Palestinian Rights.