Regarding the Feb. 19 Opinion piece, "A Russian answer to Iran's threat": This commentary, by John Hughes, does not reflect the fact that Russia's banks have not gone bankrupt, its natural resources have not all been sold to foreigners, its status in the world has not been tarnished by shallow thinking in foreign policies, and its army is not bogged down in a war that is emboldening foreign radicals with its inability to effectively counter their influences. How Mr. Hughes can depict Russia as a country filled with angst over its (alleged) loss of superpower status shows that your former editor has not been traveling the world enough. Most of the nations of the world have had deepening respect for the Russian turnaround since 1998.
This piece is a disingenuous attempt by John Hughes to link Iran's nuclear enrichment program to a nuclear weapons program. He presents no evidence for the existence of such a program. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has repeatedly said it "has been able to continue to verify the nondiversion of declared nuclear materials in Iran." That was affirmed again last September by the director of the Central Intelligence Agency, Gen. Michael Hayden, who said, "We assessed that the nuclear weapons program had not resumed as of mid-2007, a conclusion that subsequent intelligence still supports."
With Iran's help so vital to us in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region, why throw sand in the face of diplomacy with baseless allegations? Whose purpose does is it serve? Certainly not the national security interests of the United States.
Fariborz S. Fatemi
Former professional staff member,
House Foreign Affairs Committee and Senate Foreign Relations Committee
How to improve China's human rights
In regard to the Feb. 19 Opinion piece, "Clinton must press China on rights": Authors William F. Schulz, Sarah Drier, and Winny Chen are still living in the 20th century. There has been a profound paradigm shift in the world with regard to human rights in recent years. A good example of this is that the Service Employees International Union is helping the All China Federation of Trade Unions in organizing Wal-Mart workers in China to protect their labor rights. Teamsters are doing the same for UPS workers in China. This was unthinkable up until now.
Human rights is profoundly local and culturally influenced. Therefore, the minds on both sides in this discussion need to be engaging and open. We must discard the 20th-century cold war rhetoric of human rights and start anew.
Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif.
Canada and the US can learn from EU
Regarding the Feb. 19 article, "Obama off to Canada to tighten ties": The EU has gained economic strength by merging some functions of government. The US and Canada should follow suit. A good first step would be to make movement and trade between our two nations open, unrestricted, and untaxed. Immigration, customs, and visa processes for entry from outside our two nations should be negotiated to find a common standard and then jointly enforced. From there, we should work to maintain the uniqueness of each nation, while gaining the efficiencies and effectiveness of joint activities.
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