In his Aug. 24 Opinion piece "US troop withdrawals costly to alliances," Ambassador Robert Hunter is correct in saying that "the impetus for change [to our global defense posture] is obvious." But his critiques merit clarification.
In Korea, our diplomatic and military power both on the peninsula and elsewhere in the region will continue to reassure our South Korean allies while deterring any enemy that would do them harm. In Europe, extensive consultations with our NATO allies over the past year have revealed not only that our allies agree with our strategic rationale, but that they think changes to our cold-war legacy posture are overdue.
For our alliances to be strong and enduring, they need to be affordable and sustainable. Our forward-thinking allies certainly understand this point.
Andrew R. Hoehn
Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Strategy
Regarding Derek Cressman's Aug. 26 Opinion piece "Free Speech vs. Purchased Speech," the distinction drawn in these cases is between political (highly protected) and commercial (less protected) speech. It appears to me that the record box-office success of "Fahrenheit 9/11," coupled with director Michael Moore's well-documented liberties with the truth, place his B movie much more in the category of less-protected commercial speech, while the swift-boat vets have a clear political motive.
While many may not agree with their position, and one may question their recollection of the facts, this is exactly the kind of speech that the First Amendment was intended to protect.
Mr. Cressman makes the claim that there is an inherent difference between speech that a viewer pays to hear and speech that the speaker pays to have you hear. So he says that "Fahrenheit 9/11" is entitled to greater free-speech protection than a TV ad paid for by its proponents, even though they might have identical aims.
This is a false and dangerous distinction. Suppose I write a book about politics but am unable to find a publisher. So I pay a vanity publisher and stand on the street corner giving it away. Meanwhile my brother, who is a better writer, publishes a book arguing the opposite political position and it is sold commercially. According to Mr. Cressman's reasoning, my brother is more entitled to First Amendment freedom of speech than I am. I don't think the Constitution, or the spirit and essence of free speech, make this distinction.
St. George, Utah
Your Aug. 25 editorial "Wrong turn on the road map" shows the folly of the Bush administration's approach to Israeli settlement expansion. The unchecked growth of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories will guarantee continued conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. The Bush administration's (unspoken) blessing of this expansion serves only to undercut the president's credibility as a peace broker and his commitment to his own official policies, as outlined in the road map.
Assistant Executive Director
Americans for Peace Now
The road map clearly called for the Palestinians at least to attempt to end the violence from their end prior to any Israeli action. Their failure to do so is the root of the stalemate of the peace process. Settlement expansions can be reversed by negotiations. Deadly results of terror cannot.
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