Who should decide how to conserve Alaska's resources?

Regarding the Dec. 4 article, "Why some gun owners are unhappy with Bush," gun owners' objections to logging in the Tongass and Chugach National Forests in Alaska illustrate the problem Alaskans have with politicians from the lower 48 states managing their resources. Alaskans rely on development of natural resources including forest products, fishing, and energy to achieve a decent standard of living.

I traveled in southeast Alaska after President Clinton imposed restrictions on logging in the Tongass National Forest. The economies were devastated and the people suffered.

The Tongass and Chugach forests can provide sustainable timber and pulp production. Alaskans know the value of protecting the environment without anyone from the lower 48 telling them how they should arrange their lives.
Robert Campbell
Salem, N.H.

It's obvious to those of us who have spent our lives hunting and fishing that President Bush's natural resource agenda is a half- century behind mainstream conservation. His unrelenting pressure to eviscerate our last wild lands with oil and gas wells, clear-cuts, and mines is simply the same path we were headed down three decades ago when we realized we were losing our salmon, wildlife diversity, and last wild places.

Any short-term surge in logging and construction jobs anticipated from removing the Tongass and Chugach National Forests from the "roadless rule" will not bring economic stability to southeast Alaska.

There is a future for hunting and fishing in America, but it will never be found behind the fences of private preserves or amid the ruins of roads, clear-cuts, and oil fields.
Scott Stouder
Pollock, Idaho

Chinese muscle stirs Taiwan anxiety

Regarding the Dec. 4 article, "Taiwan tempers provocative question": Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian's fixation on conducting a defensive referendum next March is puzzling to analysts and inconvenient to the US government. It should be pointed out, however, that Chen's party has long adopted the view, enunciated in its 1999 resolution on Taiwan's future, that Taiwan is already a sovereign nation whose name is the Republic of China, that hence there is no need to declare independence, and that any change to the status quo must have the people's consent. Referendum is thus a tool for expressing the will of the people.

Whether China's deployment of 496 missiles aimed at Taiwan justifies Chen's call for a defensive referendum is open to debate, but his call clearly shows that Beijing has never abandoned the use of force against Taiwan and that China's "coercive diplomacy" has made it increasingly difficult for Taiwan to maintain its de facto independence.

Other than unequivocally stating that it opposes attempts by China or Taiwan to upset stability in the Taiwan Strait, the US should just let Taiwan's sophisticated voters rein in politicians who fail to heed their aspirations for stability, dignity, and security.
Vincent Wei-cheng Wang
Richmond, Va.
Department of Political Science, University of Richmond

Reasons for US presence in Iraq

Regarding the Dec. 1 article, "Difficulty of selling a long-term presence in Iraq," our presence in Iraq has a threefold purpose: First, to preserve our economic interests by safeguarding regional oil supplies. Second, to stabilize the situation by creating a democratic government central to our nation's interests and to the preservation of Israel. And third, to confront the terrorist threat at its source. For Democrats and Republicans to claim otherwise is disingenuous.
Gerald McSheffrey
Glendale, Ariz.

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