Letters to the Editor

Readers write about how President Obama must evaluate the conflict in Gaza with clarity and honesty, and whether Jimmy Carter was really a failed US president.

Obama must evaluate Gaza conflict with clarity

In regard to the Jan. 26 article, "In pummeled Gaza, Hamas recoups": As we begin a new phase in our nation's history, I hope that the Obama administration can work to develop a peaceful solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Peace is only possible, however, if this administration evaluates the current situation with honesty and clarity. Much of the media coverage has been unfair to Israel, which is simply trying to defend its innocent civilians. While commentators bemoan the suffering of civilians in Gaza – and Israelis share those concerns – no one mentions that Hamas deliberately targets civilians, while Israel does all it can to avoid hurting them. If the suffering is disproportionate, that is because Hamas is using its civilians as human shields.

I was in Israel during the 2006 Lebanese war, and can testify that coverage of that conflict simply did not reflect the reality I saw all around me. The UN is only making matters worse, with its blatantly unfair assessments and assertions. If its facilities are being used by gunmen – and there appears to be ample evidence of that – then its criticism should be aimed at the organization that is endangering its mission, Hamas.

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Mr. Obama has defended Israel's right to defend its citizens. It would be wonderful if that could be the basis for a solution that would bring safety and prosperity to both Israel and the Palestinians, making Hamas and other terrorist organizations merely the historical footnotes they deserve to be.

With all the goodwill and brainpower the Obama administration brings to the table, we might just make some progress in that direction.

Sara Mintz Zwicker
Braintree, Mass.

Is President Carter unfairly maligned?

Regarding the Jan. 5 Opinion piece, "Stop picking on Jimmy Carter": I found author Walter Rodgers's commentary on Jimmy Carter quite refreshing. It's easy to remember only the criticisms of the day, and not develop a larger picture of what a public figure has accomplished while in office.

Joel Crandall
Arlington, Va.

Walt Rodgers seems on a crusade to rehabilitate Jimmy Carter's presidency, suggesting that Carter was a brilliant, visionary president whose legacy has been shaped by political enemies and not reality. He cites Carter's "visionary energy policy" as one example of greatness.

Based on service in the Reagan administration's Department of Energy, I can attest that many of the energy policies and programs we inherited from the Carter administration were far from visionary and closer to disastrous. In my work of ending the regulatory programs that controlled gasoline prices and the allocation of petroleum, I found regulations, policies, and practices that created enormous dislocations and harm within the US economy. Carter's bureaucrats imposed rules and practices on the oil companies that helped create the long lines at gas stations and put small oil companies out of business in the late 1970s. It took my agency over four years to untangle the legal and regulatory mess that this so-called visionary president created.

While one can agree with Rodgers's larger point that Carter's reputation as an incompetent president is undeserved, the examples I witnessed of his energy management and policy failures are sufficient to suggest that Rodgers is a bit over-reaching in the scope of his praise for the former president.

Rayburn Hanzlik
Washington, D.C.

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