Boycotting Egypt won't help its people or change its government

Regarding 'Sandmonkey's' June 1 Opinion piece, "SOS from an Egyptian blogger": I am an avid reader and follower of Sandmonkey's blogs. However, as an American of Egyptian descent, I cannot disagree more with Sandmonkey regarding the proper recourse to encourage the Egyptian government to shape up. He advocates an elimination of US aid and an international boycott of Egypt and Egyptian goods.

The implications of this are grave and tragic. First, these moves will do nothing to facilitate government reforms. Anyone who thinks a drop in investment or a cut in aid will affect President Hosni Mubarak is living an illusion. Cutting US aid would end grass-roots programs in education, agriculture, health, women's rights, cultural preservation, and small business. This would decrease the number of social and economic opportunities available to average Egyptians.

Boycotting Egyptian goods and encouraging an end to foreign investment will also deprive Egyptians of economic opportunities and harm the economic stability of the largest Arab country. When people are devoid of opportunities, radical Islam is much more alluring. No one can afford to see radical Islam get any stronger.

Finally, a call to stop traveling to Egypt will cut off Egypt's strongest links to the rest of the world. The daily interaction that occurs between average Egyptians and Western tourists does more to encourage cultural understanding and an appreciation of Western culture (including Jews and Americans) than any diplomatic address. Depriving Egypt economically will only lead to more government involvement in the economy and a stronger and more powerful Mubarak regime. Sandmonkey is a brave guy, but his latest piece lacks simple common sense.
Patrick Elyas
Los Angeles

It's time for a woman UN chief

Regarding Yun Tang's May 31 Opinion piece, "Is it time for an Asian UN chief?": Discussion regarding the next UN secretary-general will be in earnest over the next couple of months, and while there seems to be a consensus that fairness dictates that Asia should have the next "turn," no consideration is paid to the fact that in 60 years, women have never had a turn. Whichever region the next secretary-general comes from - given the UN's stated commitment to achieving gender balance in the organization - the Security Council should be actively seeking qualified women for consideration, rather than waiting for candidates to come forward. Current Secretary-General Kofi Annan stated on International Women's Day that, "[T]he world is ready for a woman secretary-general." We are ready and waiting.

In 1995 at the UN Women's Conference in Beijing, governments pledged to create "mechanisms to nominate women candidates for appointment to senior posts in the United Nations." This is the most senior post - where are the mechanisms? The goal of 50/50 gender equality in the UN by the year 2000 is long overdue.
Jessica Neuwirth
New York President, Equality Now

Public computers aid poor Indian youth

Thanks for publishing the wonderful June 1 article, "A 'hole in the wall' helps educate India." The story is an example of the great use of a "hole-in-the-wall" computer married to the individual initiative of the user. If this helps even 1 in 20 users to improve their lives, it will have made a great contribution to the life of poor and disadvantaged youngsters.
P. Jain
Springfield, Ill.

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