Letters to the Editor

Readers write about Syria's wide range of economic ties, why speech rights vary from country to country, and what Obama can learn from Ronald Reagan.

The wide and differing range of Syria's economic ties

In regard to the Feb. 24 editorial, "Obama's Goad to Damascus": To suggest that Syria accrues considerable economic benefits from its alliances with Iran, Hamas, and Hezbollah is misleading.

Yes, Iran is a major trading partner and source of investment, but Hamas controls a besieged area and is unable to trade or engage in regular economic activity, while Hezbollah is a nonstate actor who can hardly influence the economy of a country the size of Syria. Rather, Syria enjoys growing economic relations centered around trading partnerships with the European Union, the wider Arab world, Turkey, and, increasingly, Asia.

Also, there is no significant correlation between Syria's economic woes and international sanctions. In fact, according to 2007 statistics, trade between Syria and the United States is actually increasing. The "economic woes" that Syria experiences stem from a legacy of dependence on oil production, not sanctions.

Samer Abboud,

Selinsgrove, Pa.

Not all speech rights are the same

In regard to the Feb. 24 Opinion piece, "The intensifying battle over Internet freedom": I agree that everyone here has the right to freedom of expression. That is the law – here in America. It is not the law everywhere. We do not have the right to expect others to have the same attitude toward, or laws concerning, all our freedoms. We cannot complain that certain countries have censorship, i.e., restrictions on the media and private expression. That is up to them, not up to us. As much as we would like everyone to be like us, we must respect other countries' cultures and rates of development, unless they adversely and greatly affect their people's safety, the promotion of justice, or their quality of life.

Paul Metcalf
Richmond, Texas

Obama should learn from Reagan

Regarding the Feb. 26 article, "Citing 'crisis,' Obama pledges recovery, lauds American spirit": President Obama's speech was truly moving. However, if we are truly to "emerge as a stronger nation," then applying aspects of "Reaganomics" just makes good economic sense.

President Reagan's tax cuts, combined with an emphasis on federal monetary policy, deregulation, and expansion of free trade, created a sustained economic expansion. Our economy grew by more than a third. Consumer and investor confidence soared. Cutting federal income taxes, cutting the federal spending budget, cutting useless programs, scaling down the government workforce, maintaining low interest rates, and keeping a watchful inflation hedge on the monetary supply were all part of Mr. Reagan's formula for a successful economic turnaround.

Reagan was focused on doing the right things for the US economy and he got it right. We might wish to incorporate and apply aspects of "Reaganomics" to our current economic dilemma.

Igor Sill
San Francisco

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