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Letters

February 28, 2003



Using NATO against Iraq: History's lessons

Regarding the Feb. 20 opinion piece "Taking NATO for granted - US needs a history lesson": Gerard DeGroot's argument that NATO served as a cynical symbiosis during the cold war is certainly cogent, and may be the best argument for allowing the alliance to expire, since its raison d'ĂȘtre has already been met. Forward-looking statesmen and women should be trying to design a modus vivendi to succeed NATO.
David Hudelson
Horse Shoe, N.C.

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I am not sure why "Taking NATO for granted - US needs a history lesson" does not spell out that NATO is a defensive agreement and is not to be used to support aggression by any party. US National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice seems to be demanding that European members of NATO should blindly support what would amount to Turkish aggression on Iraq by allowing Turkey to be used as a vehicle for US attacks. These demands are inappropriate and an apology is due from President Bush to France, Germany, and Belgium. Many citizens of other NATO countries appreciate that the three do not submit so readily to US blackmail.
Christopher Leadbeater
Hailey, England

"Taking NATO for granted - US needs a history lesson" contains the throw-away line, "American commitment was not, after all, exemplary, as evidenced by the fact that they'd shown up rather late to two world wars."

This point would have more impact if America had been under any commitment to Europe as either world war developed. The US had no treaty or other obligations to Britain or France in 1914, but entered the war in 1917 after Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare had killed Americans.

As for World War II, Mr. DeGroot might be reminded that the US Navy was patrolling the western Atlantic despite neutrality laws, and that a gift of 60 destroyers to Britain helped keep its lifelines open before Japan's attack and Germany's declaration of war brought the US into the conflict.

DeGroot may be right that some NATO members doubt the strength of America's NATO treaty commitment, but pointing to the US's "rather late" entry into wars when it had no treaties requiring action is illogical.

Clark Irwin
Cumberland Foreside, Maine

Journalism needs competition to thrive

Regarding the Feb. 25 opinion piece "Regulating the news": Who can argue that journalism is in "a sorry state?" Janet Kolodzy's premise that this state exists in a competitive environment is false. Is the media market competitive nationwide when 10 companies own 90 percent of all media? Hardly. Competition hasn't existed in the media for some time. And without real competition, journalism won't flourish.

If we see greater consolidation of news operations - and we will see it if the FCC further relaxes ownership rules - there will be fewer available resources for news-gathering operations and fewer enterprising stories than we have today. Accordingly, there will be more mediocrity and repetition. Shareholders of media conglomerates, meanwhile, will see even greater profits.

Ms. Kolodzy's argument fails because it attempts to generalize from an isolated analysis of one media market. The impact of competition on US journalism must be looked at across markets, because the purse strings of news operations are often held by a diversified, corporate business office, sometimes halfway across the country. Where this is the case, imitative reporting among news operations is not flattery, but rather a way for business to play the news game without expending the resources to make it a worthy game.
Catherine Alexander
Alexandria, Va.

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