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<b>Afghan experts</b>

EDITOR: What a delight to see that Ambassador Ted Eliot is still active and giving us an informed report about the status of Afghanistan ("Let's not toss away investment in Afghans," Close to Home, Thursday). Having been a resident of Kabul during 1977-78, he was my ambassador, and every policymaker should listen to his informed suggestions. He and his wife, Pat, were exemplary representatives of our country. She worked hard to help set up an outlet for Afghan women to sell their handicrafts to the largely foreign trade and helped set up a program that advanced good materials to the artists to improve the quality of their final product.

Ambassador Eliot always had multiple Afghan residents attending functions at the U.S. Embassy, and we were proud to adhere to the customs and traditions of our host country. Great strides were made.

It's been a tough 30 years in Afghanistan. We have finally realized that the country is still divided by ethnicity, geography and even religious beliefs. Afghans are proud, loyal people. They honor their families, their homes and, most of all, Allah.

We have spent years trying to get back to where we were. Don't give up now. I urge policymakers to follow the advice of those who have been there. Don't throw away all the good we have done.

JOAN POULOS

Bodega Bay

<b>China and the West</b>

EDITOR: With the Chinese navy out in the South China Sea rattling sabers with its aircraft carrier, you have to wonder what other mischief they may be getting into.

Bloomberg News reported that the People's Republic imported 130 metric tons of gold through Hong Kong in October. Could the Chinese be diversifying out of Treasury bonds in response to perpetual quantitative easing, or do they have something much more sinister in mind?

If they are plotting to back their currency, the renminbi, with gold, it would challenge the U.S. dollar as the global reserve currency. While China continues its rise on the world stage, indebted western democracies accelerate their decline.

DON JONES

Santa Rosa

<b>Chambers' virtues</b>

EDITOR: North county residents have been well served. Supervisor Mike McGuire is a dynamo with phenomenal energy and drive who is passionate about representing his district. His commitment to constituent service is of the highest order. He's always available when needed. There is no doubt that he will be a very effective state senator.

McGuire will be a tough act to follow, but now the right candidate is in the race. Healdsburg City Councilman Tom Chambers is off and running, and that is welcome news for north county residents. Chambers is a bright, analytical, hard-working thinker who is extremely adept at studying the issues.

He has served his community well with many years of service on the City Council. He has raised his family here and has a balance of experience in both the private and public sector. He is moderate and level-headed, and is not beholden to any special interest groups.

He is a great listener, who is open-minded and thoughtful and is very responsive to constituent needs. I'm hopeful that north county residents will listen to his message and consider his candidacy.

KENT MITCHELL

Healdsburg

<b>Needs at home</b>

EDITOR: Is it something in the water in Sebastopol or simply the communist name? If I recall, President Barack Obama insisted that we step in and help the Free Syrian Army with air strikes and advisers. This was quickly squashed by the military which simply said, "We refuse to fight on the side of al-Qaida."

B.O. has sent plenty of arms and ammunition to these terrorists and their Hezbollah allies who are currently getting their butts kicked by the Syrian army. This can't be described as keeping us out or even standing aside. All of this firepower is being used to kill people on both sides of the fight.

I would add that instead of sending lots of food, teachers and money to the poor abused Syrians, Paul Benkover ("The U.S. role," Letters, Thursday) might think about doing it for this country first. He probably hasn't noticed that things are not perfect outside Sebastopol.

DAVID HAYNES

Santa Rosa