Despite criticisms, Bush Mideast policies working

Regarding your Feb. 4 interview with Prof. Fawaz Gerges for "A change of Arab hearts and minds": I was glad to see Mr. Gerges recommend that the United States should help the Arab world by "investing in education, academic exchange, training of teachers, and other aspects of civil society" because that is exactly what President Bush is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In many ways, peoples of the Middle East have not advanced much since the Ottoman Empire before World War I. On the other hand, peoples in other parts of the world have enjoyed immense economic progress during the past 80 years. We need to ask why jobs are flowing to China, Mexico, and numerous other Asian and Latin American countries but not to the Arab countries. It is not because of ethnic or religious discrimination. Rather, it is because jobs flow to where the legal system and culture complement a ready supply of willing workers.

The Bush administration is working toward "reforming the educational and health systems, empowering women, and pushing rulers to open up the political system and respect human rights and the rule of law" as Gerges calls for.

On the other hand, liberal politicians and pundits in the US and Europe remain obsessed with denying President Bush any success. So far, no liberal has proposed a viable plan that would move the Middle East beyond a status quo that produced a fanaticism against modernity.
Lowell Nelson
Madison, Ind.

Combat experience goes only so far

Your Feb. 6 article "The veteran factor: how it might play" makes the assumption that having fought in a war and been wounded is a significant qualifying factor for serving as president.

While it may gain votes for a candidate who says, "I'm a veteran" over and over again, the skills of armed combat are not the skills we need in a president. This is the most complex, demanding management job in the world.
John Applegath
Durham, N.H.

Opportunity for minority students

Regarding your Feb. 6 article "Family ties: an unfair advantage?": Comparing the practice of giving preference to children of alumni to the practice of giving preference to children of minorities misses the point. The purpose of the former is to gain more alumni support and, in some cases, actual revenue and is better compared to the practice of admitting athletes who do not always meet the academic standards. The purpose of the latter is to give students who do not always meet the academic standards the chance to realize their potential through education.
Elizabeth Hare
Hingham, Mass.

Two sides of paint-ball battle

Regarding your Feb 5. article "Paint pellets are firing up safety debate": I have seriously begun to question our societal collective sanity. Once again, we seem to be asking for a high-handed governmental one-size-fits-all solution to the negligent parenting of our burgeoning juvenile delinquent population. Why don't we also ban large rubber bands, forked sticks, and rocks, since they can be made into slingshots?
Wesley W. Simms
Thomasville, Ga.

As an ophthalmologist, I have cared for patients with paint-ball injuries. These high- velocity "toys" have led to numerous eye injuries, even when protective eyewear was used. Players and regulators should be aware that this sport can lead to permanent severe loss of vision and frequently permanent blindness and the need for multiple eye operations to prevent the loss of the eye itself. Intentionally or unintentionally, these are very dangerous devices.
Louis Maisel
New York

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