Fix US policy in Middle East - or how it's perceived?

In response to your Oct. 3 article "Ways to burnish America's image abroad": The United States has spent millions in humanitarian assistance and reconstruction efforts in the Middle East, yet we are still looked upon by the Muslim world with repugnance.

As powerful and dominant as America's military is, so too is America's marketing might, but we have not truly utilized all of our resources with regard to this war on terrorism. So far, the Bush administration's military response - in Afghanistan, in Iraq, and elsewhere - has been reasonably effective against Al Qaeda and its sponsors, but our intellectual response has been weak. Ultimately, it is not enough to shut down the terrorist camps - we must also prevent the jihad factories, mosques, and educational institutions from turning out aspiring suicide bombers. We cannot kill all these people; we have to change their minds.

America corporately needs to send a new message to the world and discover new ways to alter how America is perceived on a global level. The US can indeed improve its image throughout the Islamic world and effectively alter the negative perception of our nation - the solution is in the minds of the American people. In the words of Frank Lloyd Wright, "An idea is salvation by imagination." I think we've had enough coverage focusing solely on American muscle. Let's use our imagination to figure out ways to let the world know that this country is so much more.
Michael Levine
Los Angeles

While I agree with John Hughes in his Oct. 8 Opinion, "In an angry world, keep burnishing US image," it is not enough simply to do public relations. The US must also look to its policies in the international arena, which often seem very self-serving, instead of beneficial to both the US and the other countries. Two examples come immediately to mind: the effort of our politicians to force genetically enhanced foods on other countries and our refusal to sign on to the Kyoto protocol regarding climate change.

As long as our policies, treaties, and trade agreements continue to reflect the heavy-handed "my way is the only way," then all the PR in the world won't help.
Rose Tresp
Laredo, Texas

Bill gets only one vote from Big Tobacco

Regarding your Oct. 6 editorial "Tobacco's Road to Regulation": R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company opposes the tobacco-quota buyout bills currently in the US Senate and US House of Representatives. These bills do not abolish the federal tobacco price-support program; instead, they replace the old program with a new supply management system and pay $13 billion to $15 billion to tobacco quota holders, 86 percent of whom do not actually farm tobacco. Additionally, neither bill addresses the issue of making US tobacco growers more competitive in the market.

Only Philip Morris, with approximately 50 percent of the market, supports a tobacco-quota buyout and FDA regulation. The FDA bill would not remove the many advertising and marketing restrictions in place since the 1997 and 1998 settlements between the major tobacco companies and all 50 states. Rather, the bill would stifle all remaining commercial speech to adult users of tobacco products "in the best interests of public health," ensuring Philip Morris's dominant position in the marketplace.

Therefore, it is hardly surprising that Philip Morris remains the only tobacco company actively supporting FDA legislation.
Tommy J. Payne
Winston-Salem, N.C.Exec. Vice President, External Relations

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company

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