Letters to the Editor – Weekly Issue of March 28, 2011

Readers write in about the West's patronizing view of Arab advancement, the coercive nature of progressive compassion, the threat of electromagnetic pulses, and Arab uprisings as a test for President Obama's commitment to freedom.

Pushing a Western agenda

Walter Rodgers's March 7 column ("Arab strongmen are out, but is real democracy in?") asks: "Which institutions and traditions are Arab nations prepared to forfeit?" Perhaps none. Perhaps the West is pushing unwanted agendas, myopically treating the Arab world as if it should/could develop in ways the West perceives as correct.

If the new is really to replace the old, it will do so without our help. This process may take longer than we'd like, but the advancement of the rest of the world will eventually force the issue.

Pamela Lampson

Corpus Christi, Texas

Coercive compassion

Michael Knox Beran's March 14 commentary, "When compassion turns into coercion," might be distilled to the following phrase: "A nanny state might be described as a police state in drag."

A.Y. Harper

Ocean Springs, Miss.

Mr. Beran provides a thorough, concise, easily understood exposure of the tragedy of progressivism. Big-government policies of control espoused by progressives stifle economic and personal freedom to the benefit of those seeking to impose their will.

Beran provides a breath of fresh air from standard commentary.

William K. Martin

Coronado, Calif.

The greater threat: EMP

The March 7 cover story, "The new cyber arms race," explores scenarios where America's infrastructure could be vulnerable to cyberattack. However, a more ominous threat exists: an attack by EMP (electromagnetic pulse) weapons. A single high-altitude EMP burst could destroy modern society instantaneously – permanently incapacitating anything with a computer chip. All communication capabilities would cease. All modern economic transactions, medical devices, and transportation systems would fail in a second.

Unlike cyberattacks, we have no EMP defense, and no plans to defend ourselves from this danger.

Martin P. Hayes

Indianola, Wash.

Don't forget Malaysia

John Hughes's refreshing March 7 column ("Arab uprisings will test Obama's duty to freedom") reminds us that "Indonesia and Turkey are significant symbols for the Muslim world of the compatibility of democracy and Islam." He neglects to mention another anomaly to the ster­eotype that Islam and democracy are incompatible: Malaysia.

With its impressive economic growth, interreligious harmony, and record on terrorism, Malaysia is a compelling example of how to proceed after decades of oppressive autocracy. Arab architects of governance should consider it.

Dennis J.D. Sandole

Professor of conflict resolution and international relations

George Mason University

Arlington, Va.

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