Regarding Dinesh D'Souza's June 7 Opinion piece, "A child of the 'Reagan revolution' grateful for inheritance": In death as in life, Ronald Reagan, with his legacy of image triumphing over reality, still exerts a forceful grip on the American people and the media.
We certainly owe it to his memory to acknowledge the contributions he made. Most notable was the message of hope, optimism, and high spirits that he exemplified to the nation and the world. Yet we would be remiss if we failed to acknowledge the price we have paid for Reagan's policies.
As William R. Pitt has explained, Reagan "made Americans feels good about acting against their own best interests." From initiating media deregulation, to weakening environmental regulations for the benefit of corporate interests, to dismantling social programs that protect the weakest segments of society, to the scores of officials who were investigated, indicted, or convicted in the Iran-contra affair, let us never forget the darker side of this legacy.
In your June 8 article "Worldviews: Reagan and Bush" I was disappointed to read, "The Bush administration sees a threat to the nation's very existence in terrorism, and has vowed to use all means at its disposal to defeat it. Due to circumstances, and perhaps temperament, it is a darker vision of the world than the one Reagan appeared to hold."
President Bush has consistently been optimistic that there can be peace in the Middle East and that the Iraqi people can build a free nation that will be an agent of change in the region. The media have characterized this hope-filled attempt to bring freedom to a region that is a greenhouse for terrorism as a Vietnam-like, dying-for-nothing war. This war is an effort to bring peace and freedom to the Middle East. It's not fearful peacekeeping at the expense of liberty and hope. I only hope that more people are thinking and investigating for themselves, not merely accepting media reports.
Mary Ann Stroven
The Bush administration is confronting a different kind of threat from the Reagan administration's. We are no longer pitted against communism, but against the atavistic fundamentalist ideology of Al Qaeda.
The Soviets aimed for world domination by cynically leveraging communism, but the terror network aims for world insinuation, believing in its ideology and using asymmetrical means to return the world to a fundamentalist Islamic order. We have moved the international geostrategy from containment to prevention, as we moved from the cold war to the era of Islamic terrorism.
Unlike the Soviets, however, Al Qaeda is not a negotiating power.
Democracy has always entailed constant vigilance, and we are learning how to harness it. We have a recent victory in Saudi Arabia: the Saudi government has urged Muslim clerics to declare a "jihad" against terrorism.
Falls Church, Va.
I want to nip in the bud any comparisons between former President Reagan and current President Bush.
Reagan was a visionary and plain-spoken. Bush can't even accurately define what we are at war with - Islamic extremism. It's not terror we are fighting, but an ideology that is even more dangerous than communism because it invokes God in its rationale. This war will be won only if we clearly identify the enemy as an ideology and not a tactic.
We need a visionary like Ronald Reagan or Kemal Ataturk, and a modern-day Marshall Plan that will pull the Islamic world into the 21st century.
Incirlik AB, Turkey
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