Democracy for all: no easy, cheap task

Regarding the Dec. 19 article "Twilight of the tyrants": How can anyone quarrel with the objective of ousting the world's remaining dictators? But doing so won't be easy.

The problem of achieving this objective is twofold: (1) Stable democracy automatically following the ousting of a dictator will happen in only a few, if any, cases, and (2) even if there is a sound plan for toppling some dictators and for the aftermath, the United States could not sponsor and carry out such complex and costly goals alone. The current experience in bringing democracy to the Iraqi people supports both these points.

In both Iraq and Afghanistan, the absence of clear, practical, and sustainable after-action plans - marshaling money and trained personnel - seems evident. In both these now-dictatorless countries, the secure environment in which democracy might have a chance to grow has not yet been achieved. The costs are enormous.

Some improved form of joint and continuous consultation with regard to ousting dictators must first be put in place - how can one ask allies to share the burdens if some or all have not been fully involved in the decision to take actions of this kind?

It may take more than two decades to complete the aims of former US Ambassador Mark Palmer, who has pushed for a greater Western role in ousting dictators, but if a start is to be made, the present structure of international relations would have to be modified substantially.

The idea of a Pax Democratica, whether or not its No. 1 objective is ousting all dictators, is certainly in any case preferable to the Pax Americana on which the present administration in Washington has embarked.
James R. Huntley
Sequim, Wash.

Organic doesn't always mean safe

Regarding the Dec. 29 article "Organic beef gains amid mad cow scare": At the height of the Britain's mad-cow crisis, the British government identified 215 separate cases on 36 different organic farms. And in 2001, Germany's very first case was discovered in a small slaughterhouse that catered exclusively to the niche market of organic beef.

Ronnie Cummins and his Organic Consumers Association seem to be engaged in an aggressive PR offensive on behalf of so-called natural-beef marketers. But the truth is that organic meat is no safer than the conventional products Americans buy every day. Anyone claiming otherwise is literally trying to sell you something.
David Martosko
Director of Research

Center for Consumer Freedom

Conventional weapons worse than WMD

Regarding the Dec. 22 article "Carrot or stick: Which nudged Libya?": Libya's decision to abandon its programs for weapons of mass destruction, while a welcome event, will not make the Middle East safer.

It's conventional weapons, not WMDs, that are the primary source of instability in the area.

The battlefield value of WMD is questionable. Although both Iran and Iraq used chemical weapons in their eight-year war, WMD gave neither combatant any true tactical advantage.

Conventional weapons played a far more destructive and destabilizing role in that war. Indeed, the overwhelming majority of the 1 million people that died in the Iran-Iraq War were killed not by WMD but by conventional weapons. The US, Britain, France, Germany, and Russia are some of the world's leading weapons exporters.

Only when these nations stop exporting weapons to volatile regions such as the Middle East will true peace and stability be achieved.
Daniel Barkley
Pasadena, Calif.

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