The UN had reasons for snubbing the US

I'd like to thank Dennis Jett for his May 14 opinion piece, "The world's only super pouter." It was a remarkable assessment of the reasons for the recent snubs of the US at the UN and goes far beyond what other reports have suggested: that it may be a series of unilateral actions by President Bush that caused these recent embarrassments.

Mr. Jett argues it may be the election of this president itself that is eroding our international standing. What we as a nation have been unwilling to address within may eventually be forced on us from without.

June Sullivan Lawrence, N.Y.

To Dennis Jett's opinion piece, let me add the following: In a May 10 opinion in www.ledevoir.com one finds other reasonable explanations for the US's ouster from the UN's Human Rights Commission and the International Narcotics Control Board.

The author, Serge Truffaut, offers three arguments that militated against our remaining on the commission and the board. First, with seeming arrogance, the US failed to campaign for membership where we had sat since 1947. Although the US cavalierly failed to lobby for votes, we strangely expected to play a traditional role on the commission and on the board.

Then, on the issue of human rights - especially the death penalty - there was less than satisfactory agreement between the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Mary Robinson and the US. Also, the fact that the US had for a long time rejected any criticism of Israel for what many saw as the use of excessive force in occupied Palestinian territories surely did not help our candidacy.

Finally, says Mr. Truffaut, the US did support less than democratic regimes during the obsessively anticommunistic phase of our recent history. Thus reluctance on the part of certain Americans (e.g., Henry Kissinger) to recognize and admit political errors no doubt also contributed to the slapping of our country for its lack of remorse. Having been hurt by the hubris of Henry, some may have been eager to see the US eat humble pie.

Benoit G. Philippon Wayne, N.J.

Population growth is holding up traffic

The fact that your May 10 editorial "Ways to unjam highways" makes no mention of reducing population growth is strange, to say the least. The rapid expansion of human population underlies many of our problems, such as pollution, extinction, water shortages, and conflicts between nations.

The editorial notes that "spending on highways and mass transit isn't keeping pace with the growing population," as if unlimited population were inevitable. If this attitude is not checked, human civilization, including traffic, will crunch to a complete standstill.

We should study the limitations of our planet. Although government should not decide for us how many children we should have, it should begin an intensive educational program that will lead individuals to take into account the needs of society.

Peter Yff Oak Lawn, Ill.

More opportunities for border workers

Thank you for your May 10 article "In Texas, free trade puts border colonias in spotlight." The lack of basic infrastructure and utility services in many colonias, along with the disproportionate rates of preventable illness, deserves national attention.

As your article points out, legislation to limit the growth of colonias may provide some benefit, but the underlying shortage of safe, affordable housing can be adequately addressed only through an expansion of economic opportunities for border-area workers.

Lisa Lerner Mercedes, Texas

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(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor

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