Many Afghani problems solved by reducing poverty
Regarding Dennis Kux and Harpinder Athwal's Jan. 13 opinion piece "Afghan progress undermined by drugs": Yes, drugs and terrorism are serious threats and directly related. And, yes, they threaten prospects for democratic government and widespread prosperity. But not as much as rampant poverty and its related evil of widespread injustice. Military force will have victories but it will only fuel the war on terrorism and make drug trade that much more profitable and thus more attractive to criminals and terrorists alike.
Winning the wars on terrorism and drugs will require the global enforcement of fundamental human freedoms (freedom of speech and worship and from want and fear) through the force of law - not military power.
Ensuring all Afghans have the basic needs of health, education, clean water, sanitation, and decent wages for work performed will do more to end the threat of terrorism and drugs than all the military force in the world.
Chair, United Nations Association Council of Organizations
Regarding Jonathan Zimmerman's Jan. 14 opinion piece "Howard Reagan?": I disagree that "a failed mission to rescue hostages in Iran resulted in eight American deaths - and set the stage for Ronald Reagan's victory in November." What set the stage for Mr. Reagan's victory was President Carter's failure to respond with force to an act of war committed against the United States - the seizure and holding of American diplomats as hostages. Instead of sending aircraft carriers and missiles, Mr. Carter practiced turn-the-other-cheek diplomacy, and for that Americans fired him. In his embrace of the antiwar cause, Dr. Dean far more closely resembles Carter than Reagan.
Douglas B. Levene
Regarding your Jan. 14 article "Rover ready for overland Martian trek": Considering the poll data on the question of Mars, I am reminded of the shortsightedness of the US population. A thoughtful person doesn't wait until they are ready to buy a house to start saving. Given that going to Mars will take decades of development and planning we must start now. People who see no reward in working to get to another planet fail to see what going to the moon gained us - greater sense of the interconnectedness and more emphasis on scientific understanding.
Regarding your Jan. 14 article, "O'Neill generates buzz, but how much impact?": The article seems overly dismissive of Paul O'Neill's insights into the Bush administration by characterizing his revelations as simply "kiss and tell." But in light of the secrecy of the current administration, Mr. O'Neill's comments are a welcome look inside an administration that otherwise offers the American people a controlled message.
Regarding your Jan. 16 article "PR-savvy stars navigate the courtroom": There has been a fundamental change in relationships between the law and the informational sectors. When the US Constitution was written, law, news reporting, and entertainment were three separate functions. Today, entertainment and news are fatally commingled, and they jointly distort the law so much that information manipulation actually drives the law and determines its outcome. Active electronic media and partisan crowds have no place in courtrooms. They do not defend justice; they turn it into an irrational farce.
Russell W. Ramsey
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