Youssef M. Ibrahim [Outlook, March 23] is correct that the introduction of representative democracy in most Arab countries would bring Islamic fundamentalist regimes to power. He also observes that Islamic fundamentalism appeals to elites as well as to the poverty-stricken masses.

Should this surprise anyone? Millennialism generally has been spearheaded by elites -- Marx the scholar, Lenin the lawyer, Mussolini the journalist, the Khmer Rouge graduates of the Sorbonne and even our own Unabomber, Harvard graduate Theodore Kaczynski. Osama bin Laden, Ayman Zawahiri and Mohamed Atta fit right in. What this restatement of the obvious misses is the steady exodus of "unradicalized" educated and ambitious people from those countries, heading west to seek opportunity in countries that uphold the rule of law, religious tolerance and democracy.

I can offer no solution to the problem of radical Islam emerging from an introduction of democracy to the Muslim world, other than to point out the lesson of Iran: Religious fundamentalism is bound to fail over time, and secular forces eventually will gain the upper hand. Allowing this process to happen is surely better than leaving those countries mired in dictatorship.




The March 28 front-page story about Turkey's refusal to let U.S. troops on its soil touched on many possible reasons. They ran the gamut from the United States not offering Turkey enough money to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell not offering Turkish officials food or drink at a key meeting.

But the story overlooked the central reason for Turkey's refusal: Elected democratic leaders rarely agree to something that 94 percent of their people are fervently against.

The Bush administration should have looked closely at polls in other Arab countries as well, because they may be close approximations of feelings in Iraq. While people dislike Saddam Hussein, they dislike the idea of a foreign invasion even more. Had the administration thought more about this, it might not have been so surprised when U.S. ground forces weren't greeted with flowers on their arrival in Iraq.