Letters to the Editor

Readers write about why Obama should not follow Bush's example in the Middle East, how the US should fix itself first and not Gaza, music sites that do not share files free of charge, and why gasoline consumption should be taxed rather than miles driven.

Obama should not follow Bush's lead in Middle East

Regarding the March 4 Opinion piece, "Build on Bush's Middle East progress": Author Robert Zelnick suggests that President Obama should build on his predecessor's Middle East policies. But did President Bush really make any progress?

Mr. Bush was determined to ignore the problems that consumed his predecessor, Bill Clinton, and so he did nothing about peace in the Middle East for the first seven years of his presidency. However, he did climb into Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's pocket and branded Yasser Arafat as "tainted by terror." That did not open "the way for the more moderate Mahmoud Abbas to play the lead negotiating role," as Mr. Zelnick states. Mr. Arafat's death in 2004 did.

Bush also held a peace conference in Annapolis in late 2007. But it was a one-day conference with only a couple dozen nations in attendance at which Bush gave a speech and departed before the day was done. Elliott Abrams, the Middle East expert on Bush's National Security Council, said in a recent interview that it never had any chance of success and he does not know why Bush bothered. He bothered because, with one year to go in his administration, he had an eye on his place in history and did not want to be identified as a president who for two full terms did nothing about the problems in the Middle East.

If there is anything to be learned from Bush's Middle East policy, it is two things: First, the problem can't be ignored. Second, every American president except Bush believed the United States should guarantee Israel's security and at the same time be an honest broker in an effort to move both parties closer toward a lasting peace. Bush thought giving carte blanche to Mr. Sharon was all he had to do and he had no interest at all in playing the second role.

Thus far, at least, it seems the Obama administration has absorbed both lessons.

Dennis Jett
State College, Pa.

US must fix the US first, not Gaza

In regard to the March 4 article, "Clinton travels to a hardened Israel": Israel destroys a portion of the Gaza Strip. Then the US gives the Palestinians $300 million to help rebuild what Israel destroyed with no guarantee that Israel will not destroy what is fixed. Meanwhile, that $300 million would go a long way toward fixing things on the Gulf Coast, still a mess years after hurricane Katrina. Someone please explain the logic here.

John Anderson

Not all music sites 'share' free of charge

Regarding the Feb. 25 article, "Can a 'Day of Sharing' save the music industry?": In this article, author Daniel B. Wood cites Spinner and eMusic as websites that allow users to download music free of charge. While there are a plethora of services that allow such a thing, Spinner and eMusic are not among them. Both businesses compensate their content providers. Spinner is an ad-supported site that hosts streaming videos and downloadable MP3s of exclusive content licensed to it by the artists and their labels. eMusic is a download site that allows users to pay a monthly subscription fee and download a set number of tracks per month. All of the content on eMusic is licensed to it by the artists and their labels, and all interested parties are duly compensated.

Elijah Meyer
Lighthouse Point, Fla.

Tax gas per gallon, not miles driven

In regard to the Feb. 27 editorial, "A road map to better US roads": A gas tax is effectively the same as a tax on miles driven, except that it penalizes drivers of inefficient vehicles. Until plug-in electric cars constitute something other than a minuscule portion of vehicles on the road, index the gas tax to inflation and list the gas tax separately at the pump.

Jesse Hansen
Wakefield, R.I.

The Monitor welcomes your letters andopinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, www.CSMonitor.com. Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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