Hamas is to blame for diplomatic roadblocks
Regarding Helena Cobban's Jan. 29 Opinion piece, "No way to avoid Hamas now": This is a dangerous misappraisal of the moral, military, and political realities governing Hamas. The notion that the United States or Israel is somehow obligated to establish diplomatic ties with a violently anti-Semitic terrorist organization is absurd. Not only would such a development legitimize a movement whose current status is based primarily on hate and intimidation, and only secondarily on a genuine ability to provide basic services, but it would be useless. Hamas does not operate under any accepted principle of international authority.
The assertion that Hamas is interested in a cease-fire with Israel is undermined by the author's admission that it continues to launch rockets into that country. Her implication that it is Israel and the US that have marginalized Hamas, and that they are consequently missing an opportunity for positive political progress, fails to recognize the fact that it is Hamas's rhetoric and actions that prohibit engagement and alienate the Palestinian population under its control. Instead, Israel – which has an existential stake in this conflict – is depicted as choosing not to engage with Hamas for no particular reason whatsoever.
Regarding Helena Cobban's recent Opinion piece on Hamas: Ms. Cobban omits mention of the principal reason that the US refuses to deal with the terrorist organization – Hamas continues to declare its intention to eliminate Israel.
For Hamas to gain legitimacy in the international community, it needs to renounce its intention to destroy the Jewish state. Doing so would open the floodgates of foreign aid to Gaza, reduce and eventually eliminate Israel's oppressive border controls, and trigger unprecedented industrial development. It would also remove a major roadblock to the achievement of a sovereign Palestinian state.
Ms. Cobban also does not mention that not only the US and Israel, but also the European Union, Canada, Japan, and others have listed Hamas as a terrorist organization and have supported an embargo, while at the same time supplying Gaza with food and humanitarian aid.
An oppressed people has a moral right to use violence to end oppression if all other means have been exhausted. The difficulty is that all other means – diplomacy, negotiation, trade-offs of land for peace, verifiable security guarantees, etc., have not failed, but have never interested Hamas.
To achieve relief for beleaguered Gaza, and a two-state solution for Israelis and Palestinians, Hamas will need to respect the right of others to coexist.
Is China an economy threat?
Regarding Peter Navarro's Feb. 8 Opinion piece, "China's potent economic weapon": China's unfair trade practices are protectionist. They short-circuit the laws of economics, especially the law of comparative advantage. Without comparative advantage operating on all cylinders, what credibility do free-trade proponents have? Not all free trade is created equal, and as Dr. Navarro points out, China's trade surplus is a potent economic weapon. That, the dollar's decline, and higher gas prices combine to form "weapons of economic destruction."
The current administration has turned a blind eye to the economic front of the "war on terror" and China's protectionist practices.
Hugh J. Campbell
The budget raises environmental concerns
Regarding the Feb. 7 media survey, "Budget boosts coal, nuclear": Nuclear power remains inherently dangerous, and coal, of course, represents our greatest greenhouse-gas contributor. We do, however, have available to us a potentially large-scale, economical, carbon-neutral alternative to coal: algae. Native algae grows like wildfire in the presence of wastewater (as the annual pollution-fueled bloom in the Gulf of Mexico vividly attests). Algae, intentionally grown on effluent from municipal sewage plants and agricultural sources, could be dried and burned directly in solid-fuel power plants, providing for cleaner air and water as well.
Vineyard Haven, Mass.
Regarding the recent media survey on the United States budget: One has to wonder where the president is planning to live. There is no logic in cutting back on "green" energy programs or conservation initiatives. Even if there were no global warming, common sense would dictate that these types of programs would lead to less dependence on foreign oil. These programs make our country stronger by making it more self-sufficient and they have created a new industry, which means more jobs.
If these cutbacks occur, we will end up buying the technology from foreign countries to produce renewable energy.
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