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Like many concerned people, I’ve been following two issues recently with growing concern: the Middle East and aggressive Russian actions concerning Japan’s Northern Territories. As for the Middle East: I respectfully ask President Barack Obama not to perpetuate the domination of one kind of Islam over another in the interest of “security.” There is no security for anyone, anywhere, so long as human beings are not equal. In the Middle East, the United States should support one thing: dialogue and equality among Sunni and Shiites, and obviously among Christians and Jews.

All can live together in peace under the rule of law if we Americans support the rule of law in the Middle East. Those who support inequality with violence do not deserve the support of the U.S. The moment the U.S. supports oppression of any people, I’ll turn in my passport and become a monk.

The second issue I’m concerned about is Japan’s Northern Territories. I read recently that 32 percent of Russians reject a heliocentric planetary system, and 55 percent think radioactivity is a human invention. My point is to emphasize the limited knowledge that Russians have about some things, including the history of the Northern Territories. Yes, I know the U.S. asked Stalin to enter the war against Japan at the close of World War II. And as others have noted, misguided Americans like John Foster Dulles played a tragic role in allowing Stalin to keep the islands.

Recent comments coming out of Russia are intolerable. It is certainly not in Russia’s interest, politically or economically, to antagonize Japanese people over this painful issue. I ask that Obama unequivocally support our Japanese allies by reaffirming that the Northern Territories are a part of Japan.

These dangerous political issues are the flotsam left by selfish past generations. Let us not leave similar legacies of conflict for our own children.

name withheld by request

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