Europe, too, needs young allies

Regarding the Nov. 13 Opinion piece "US needs young allies abroad": I agree with Seth Green's goal and hope he is equally capable of raising awareness in the rest of the world about US opinions. Europe is still trying to figure out what a multilateral approach to their own foreign policy means. At their current pace, it will be sometime in the next decade before they can reach consensus.

In the meantime, detractors from any sort of social order continue to develop plans for destabilization. Do Syria, Turkey, Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, or Israel have any concerns about Saddam, or is he just another benign neighbor? The world community must ask itself if it is waiting for another Sept. 11 or Bali before it will act. Is 11 years too short a time to expect compliance with the UN orders to disarm?

If Europeans are so keen on using diplomacy as the only means to effect change within a country, why were they so eager for the US to carry out war in the Balkans? Have they "cleaned up" after the wars there? Mr. Green should explain that the US is listening to ideas without giving away the power of discernment. Students throughout the world (including in the US) will learn a valuable lesson if they see that, when a party dismisses another's opinions, becoming shriller will not change any minds. It means the arguments weren't convincing. Show us evidence that we are wrong about Saddam Hussein. Then maybe we can find common ground to move forward together.
Roger Lachele

In response to "US needs young allies abroad": Mr. Green ends his article saying, "If Oxford students are some of the world's future leaders, and if they are turned against the US during their impressionable college years, who will join us the next time we need to wage a war on terrorism?" The real question should be: Who will save our European allies next time they need to wage war on terrorism or protect their borders from the hostile forces or insane tyrants their continent seems so good at spawning?
Geoff Poyer
Orange, Calif.

In math, rote memorization comes first

Regarding the Nov. 15 Opinion piece "Reform math education": Thinking and problem solving are undoubtedly important parts of math and necessary components of math education. However, mathematics, no matter how abstruse, has a basis in numbers, and nobody can advance to higher levels of understanding without being friendly with numbers. Unfortunately, this requires memorization and drill; knowing where numbers are on a keyboard is not enough.

This should be common sense. Thorough knowledge of the basics is a necessary foundation of most worthwhile pursuits, and this knowledge can come only from an extended period of conscientious drill. Why should math be any different?
Eric J. Klieber
Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Fish business gets fishier

Regarding your Nov. 15 article "A fish story": You evidently accepted the public relations spin from the National Fisheries Institute without questions, celebrating the recovery of Atlantic swordfish. This sounded "fishy," so I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium website to check the latest status of the seafood. Atlantic swordfish is still on their "avoid" list, which means it is seriously overfished. And the tuna boat "El Dorado" was detained after illegally fishing near the Galapagos Islands. Its catch consisted of only eight tuna and more than 50 dolphins.

Don't trust restaurant owners to tell you the status of fish populations. Be a smart consumer: Do the homework before you buy.
Jim Wilkinson
Boulder, Colo.

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