Letters

Bush's business background shapes his policy decisions

Dante Chinni's Feb. 28 Opinion piece, "Following the spirit of the law isn't enough," raises an issue that I think frequently colors Mr. Chinni's critiques of the Bush administration. President Bush has been called the first "MBA president." This characterization has real meaning: Business students are taught to make decisions based on the best available information, to monitor the results of their decisions, and make adjustments when, as inevitably happens, the decisions prove suboptimal.

This is exactly the strategy Mr. Bush has followed over and over, whether the issue is taxes, education, Social Security, or the war on terrorism.

In the MBA view, a mistake is not made when a suboptimal strategy is adopted; it is made only when that strategy is not modified in the face of suboptimal results.

Politics is a whole different world. In politics, if you don't get it right the first time, you made a mistake. Chinni comes from the world of politics. He, like most longtime Washington hands, doesn't seem to grasp what Bush is all about.

The business model may or may not be an appropriate model for the presidency - good arguments can be made on both sides of this issue. But Chinni's analyses would be a lot more useful if they would address this question directly, rather than always skirting around it.
Eric Klieber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

To strike Iran would be poor strategy

In his Feb. 24 Opinion piece, "Back in the regime-change business," Daniel Schorr complains that the Bush administration's request for an additional $75 million to support democracy in Iran - that is, to undermine the current government - may not succeed in stopping the alleged Iranian nuclear weapons program. Indeed not: American funding will leave Iranian democrats suspect in the eyes of their nationalistic compatriots, reminding them of the 1953 CIA-sponsored coup against Muhammad Mossadeq. Mr. Schorr hints darkly that stronger action may be needed - read a military strike.

The Oxford Research Group recently released a study by Paul Rogers, "Iran: Consequences of a Strike." It finds that a US air attack on Iran would cause thousands of casualties and provoke Iran to mine the Strait of Hormuz, attack oil production in the Gulf, and send Republican Guards into Iraq.

A strike would also further inflame the Islamic world and leave Iran's demagogic President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a hero in Iran and beyond. Suicide attacks on nuclear facilities in the West would be more likely.

Those who remember the inflated allegations that led to the fiasco in Iraq have a disturbing sense of deja vu. And this time the stakes are even higher.
David Keppel
Bloomington, Ind.

West must understand Islamic norms

I applaud and agree with your Feb. 28 editorial, "Europe must find a home for its Muslims." But I must say that in addition to the responsibility of Europe's Muslim citizenry to learn Western traditions (even if they choose not to follow some of them), European society and Western society in general must also work to better understand the values of the Islamic culture and its people.

Without this two-way street of learning, more people will remain ignorant, and that has the potential to lead, in the future, to more unnecessary misunderstandings and feuds with "the other."
Nazim Haqqani
Newark, N.J.

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