If Iraq is democratic, then who needs democracy?

John Hughes's Sept. 6 Opinion column, "Don't abandon the quest for freedom in the lands of Islam," creates a false dichotomy not too dissimilar to the false dichotomy created by the White House, which advocates staying the course in Iraq, and those who advocate a policy of "cut and run." It is never a question of whether democracy is good for Islamic countries. I think everyone agrees that democracy is good for everyone.

The problem is that the Bush administration, rather than promoting democracy, is damaging democracy's reputation. If Iraq is a democracy, if supporting Saudi Arabia's and Egypt's authoritarian regimes means furthering democracy, or if pulverizing Lebanon is part of creating a new era of democracy in the Middle East, the less of it the better!
Mohammad Salmassi
Worcester, Mass.

Enforce existing immigration laws

Regarding the Sept. 8 article, "As Congress stalls on immigration, a backlash brews": One of the irritating things about the illegal-alien mess is that proponents of open borders and uncontrolled immigration leave out the word "illegal" when speaking or writing about the immigration situation. I suppose that noncitizens who have entered the US legally (i.e. with a visa, etc.) and who have remained past the allotted time could be called illegal immigrants. However, noncitizens who enter the US without any kind of permission are nothing more than aliens and are definitely illegal. How can the latter be called immigrants?

Another irritating aspect is concerning the "comprehensive immigration reform" proposal. A similar approach was taken in 1986 and didn't solve the problem. We don't need more laws; we need to enforce existing laws. Seal the borders, protect the population (US citizens), and then decide what to do about immigration. We are living in a perilous time of terrorism and must have monitored, controlled entrance to our country if we are to remain a free and democratic society.
Jack Franke
Austin, Texas

The Sept. 8 article about a potential backlash as Congress stalls on immigration reform reminded me that it is the executive branch of the government that is charged with enforcing the laws. And since that is the case, then the executive branch should bear the brunt of criticism on making sure that laws on immigration are carried out. We voters should remember that in 2008 when we vote for the next presidential candidate.
William L. Thompson
Cherrylog, Ga.

Europe offers better, cheaper healthcare

Regarding the Aug. 16 article, "Companies explore overseas healthcare": It should be noted that India is not the only place where Americans, Canadians, and Britons are going for medical treatment abroad. Western continental Europe, especially Germany, is a destination for many "medical tourists." Although it is slightly more expensive than Asian destinations, Europe, and especially Germany, has well-regulated, leading-edge, highly competitive medical providers. Germany has consistently been ranked higher than the US by the World Health Organization in providing healthcare.

Patients going to Europe also have no fear of catching a tropical disease, such as malaria, nor do they have to receive inoculations or take tablets to help prevent these diseases.

Medical tourists are the leading edge of the emerging free-market medical consumer, and as such, should consider value as much as price in their decision. This is what Europe offers.
Timothy Paul Vicknair
Cofounder, European Medical Tourist
Raleigh, N.C.

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