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Ilya Shlyakhter (notestaff) - letters to editors Below are 50 entries, after skipping 50 most recent ones in the "Ilya Shlyakhter (notestaff) - letters to editors" journal:

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March 30th, 2007
10:55 am

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war as a sport
Bush vs. Congress Over the War

Re “Bush Rules Out Bid by Congress for Iraq Pullout” (front page, March 29):

President Bush’s reference to Iraq withdrawal as “defeat” is a cheap attempt to appeal to our aversion to losing a competition.

War is not a competition; proving our strength is not a goal.

Mr. Bush is free to argue that a withdrawal would cause more suffering than it would prevent, but he must stop speaking of the war as if it were a sport.

Losing a contest is painful, but losing good people every day is more so.

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October 20th, 2006
01:20 am

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Palestinians' dignity
A Palestinian Path

Re “Abbas Threatens to Dismiss Hamas Government” (news article, Oct. 18):

When the Palestinians elected Hamas, they hoped that it would bolster their dignity by talking tough to Israel.

Instead, it has painfully exposed their lack of self-sufficiency. A permanently outstretched hand is not a dignified pose, no matter how fierce a face you make.

The only dignified route is to work toward self-sufficiency using all available means — recognition of Israel included.

Only recognizing Israel and using foreign aid to build a self-supporting society will give Palestinians true dignity.

This would not be a surrender of their rights, but a recognition of their responsibilities.

No decent person would disrespect the Palestinians if they took this route.

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August 22nd, 2006
08:51 pm

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evolution of creationism
Evolution vs. design

Re “How to Make Sure Children Are Scientifically Illiterate”: Creationists’ evolving attempts to get creationism into the schools are not “an excellent example of evolution at work.” Evolution is random and purposeless, while their efforts are conscious and highly purposed. If these attempts are indeed divinely inspired, they illustrate the limitations of purposed design.

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02:36 pm

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evolution vs. design
Battling Ignorance

Re “How to Make Sure Children Are Scientifically Illiterate”: Creationists’ evolving attempts to get creationism into the schools are not “an excellent example of evolution at work.” Evolution is random and purposeless, while their efforts are conscious and highly purposed. If these attempts are indeed divinely inspired, they illustrate the limitations of purposed design.

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August 16th, 2006
01:05 pm

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keeping bombs off planes
Keeping planes  safe

Some simple steps for preventing terrorism on planes: Ban all drinks. Have the flight attendants serve enough drinks for free or for a nominal fee. Ban all MP3 players. Let people upload their music to an airline's Web site, and listen to it on airline-issued headphones during the flight.

And so on.

Most of the "essentials" that people now bring on the planes can be easily replaced with safe, airline-issued ones for the duration of the flight.

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August 10th, 2006
12:05 pm

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israel and lebanon
Supporting Israel

Re "Anti-U.S. Feeling Leaves Arab Reformers Isolated" (article, August 9), describing the problems that the U.S. faces today for supporting Israel:

The problem is not that we support Israel today when it is in the right, but that we supported it in the past when it was in the wrong.

We were wrong to support Israel’s building of illegal settlements. That has created the impression that we’ll stand by Israel no matter what it does. Now that Israel really needs and deserves our support, our ability to give that support is compromised.

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July 23rd, 2006
03:53 am

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selling organs for transplants
Flesh Trade: Why not let people sell their organs?

We already pay healthy people to risk their health in safety trials of new drugs (Freakonomics, Stephen J. Dubner and Steven D. Levitt, July 9). The risks in these trials can be harder to control than the risks in well-studied transplant procedures. We also pay people to risk their health in other contexts — for example, in the military. Most soldiers aren’t millionaires, and financial incentives do play a part. Like soldiers, organ donors may serve for a mix of altruistic and pragmatic reasons. Why let the soldiers be paid but not the donors? And as for the argument that letting the rich buy the poor’s organs is repugnant: what is repugnant is letting people become so poor that they must sell their organs to get by.

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July 3rd, 2006
11:17 am

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flag-burning amendment
Real patriotism

Re: "GOP's burning flag issue may pass," June 25:

I'm glad the flag-desecration amendment failed. It would wrongly equate patriotism with symbolic gestures like respecting the flag, rather than with more meaningful acts like conserving energy or exposing government misdeeds.

Patriotism, "love of country," refers to acts that help the country; the more helpful and the more difficult the act, the more patriotic. Worshiping the flag is neither very helpful nor particularly hard. Burning the flag is much less unpatriotic than, for example, crafting unwise policy. If senators who got us into Iraq want to ban unpatriotic acts, I suggest that they start with their own lawmaking.

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June 13th, 2006
09:32 am

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zarqawi's death does not justify iraq war
Don't celebrate yet

I'm glad we finally killed Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, but before we celebrate, let's remember that we ourselves created this monster. Who had heard of Zarqawi before we invaded Iraq? Would his international terror network exist today had we not invaded?

Zarqawi's terror network is just one of many unintended consequences of our invasion. As we celebrate our success at cleaning this one up, let's not forget how many other consequences we still have left to deal with.

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June 11th, 2006
08:37 am

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haditha as microcosm of iraq war
Haditha screams a message

Re "The warrior's way," Opinion, June 6

David. J. Danelo cautions against "placing too close an association on the Haditha massacre with the war's politics," but the connection is too important to ignore. Haditha is a perfect microcosm of the entire Iraq war. Some Iraqis killed a Marine, and his mates allegedly took revenge not on the killers but on the nearest defenseless Iraqis.

On 9/11 some Arabs killed our citizens, and we took revenge not on the killers but on the nearest defenseless Arabs. The Marines at Haditha took their cue from their commander in chief. President Bush's condemnations of their acts therefore sound hypocritical.

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June 3rd, 2006
04:02 am

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allocation of anti-terror funds
The Furor Over Antiterror Spending

Republicans have no hope of winning New York in the next election, so President Bush doesn't waste time tending to New York's interests.

The root of irrational policy is the irrational politics of the Electoral College.

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March 23rd, 2006
04:07 am

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israel's barrier
The Two Sides Of Israel's Barrier

The Israeli wall is like stitches on a wound -- a painful, foreign and disfiguring presence that is nevertheless necessary to make the wound heal.

When the wound has healed -- when the region achieves lasting peace -- the temporary measure can be removed.

Those who fight the wall today are like a patient who tears out his stitches before it's time.

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February 25th, 2006
09:01 am

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danish cartoons
Free Speech, at a Price

Regarding Danish editor Flemming Rose's Feb. 19 Outlook piece, "Why I Published Those Cartoons":

The Muhammad cartoons were a bad choice for making a point about freedom of speech. They said nothing new, exposed no unknown bad actors, suggested no constructive solutions. In short, they had none of the qualities of speech worth defending.

Freedom of speech comes at a price; along with truly valuable speech we're forced to permit speech most of us would rather forbid. The only way to justify the price is by pointing to valuable ideas we would have lost if not for freedom of speech. What valuable ideas that were not already out there did the cartoons convey?

The cartoons have set back freedom of speech in the Muslim world by giving this Western value a bad name. To many Muslims, "freedom of speech" now represents not the great Western advances but gratuitous insults. The cartoons vividly illustrated the costs of the freedom of speech without illustrating any of its benefits.

The Danish editor's "defense" of freedom of speech was as counterproductive and irresponsible as Muslim rioters' "defense" of their prophet.

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January 9th, 2006
05:47 am

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term limits for presidents
How Long Should a President Serve?

If we let presidents run for a third term, we should require them to resign after two terms and wait four years before running again. This way, we can hold them accountable without giving them the advantages of incumbency.

Also, third terms would be reserved for presidents whose legacies stood up to the scrutiny of hindsight.

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October 1st, 2005
05:50 am

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teaching evolution in school
Religion, Science and Our Identity

When parents or teachers attempt to show that evolution and religion are not in conflict and that other ways to knowledge exist besides the scientific method, they are ruled out of court on an alleged violation of the separation of church and state. Thus we get the understandable if misguided attempt to insert intelligent design into the science curriculum, to counter the philosophical (and theological) bias of militant secular evolutionists.

Robert Bireley
Chicago, Oct. 1, 2005
The writer is a professor of history at Loyola University Chicago.


None of the biology teachers I've had, or the biologists I've known, have been crusading atheists. They gladly shared their knowledge and methods with those who asked; they never promoted any worldview.

Scientists gain satisfaction from discovering new knowledge, not from persuading others to accept knowledge already discovered. Religionists gain satisfaction from getting others to conform to their worldview.

Maybe that's why our Constitution separates only religion from the state.

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September 3rd, 2005
10:54 pm

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teaching intelligent design
Re: teaching intelligent design

1. "Science" used to mean "knowledge obtained by the scientific method."

Later, "scientific" became synonymous with "credible" because the method reliably yielded credible results that everyone could see.

Today, creationists want to ride the coattails of science to credibility by teaching creationism or its variants in science classes.

But they reject the scientific method that made "scientific" synonymous with "credible" in the first place. Their statements are therefore not scientific and therefore not credible, no matter where they are taught.

2. You can't directly observe evolution but you can directly observe the benefits that humans reaped from evolutionary theory. All modern biology and medicine is based on evolution. To see this you don't need to dig through fossils; just dig through medical journals and see how often they mention evolution.

(Experiments on mice only make sense if mice and humans share key biological mechanisms derived from a common ancestor.) Who cares if evolution actually happened or not, if medicines developed using the theory of evolution reliably cure real people?

3. Creationists are not just saying, "evolution doesn't explain everything."

They're saying, "evolution doesn't explain some things -- so God must exist -- and it must be the God of the Bible -- and it must be the God of the Bible as we understand him -- so the religious decrees that we derive from the Bible must be the law of the land." Each of these steps is a giant leap of faith, much bigger than any gaps in evolutionary theory. Poking holes in evolution does not make any of the remaining inferences any more believable.

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August 18th, 2005
11:20 am

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estate tax
Paying your share

Re: "The estate tax is unjust and hurts the economy," letter, Aug. 5:

The letter calls the estate tax "fundamentally unfair." What's fundamentally unfair is to saddle future generations with debt. Budget deficits are thus very relevant to the question of the estate tax. You must treat your country's debt as your own; how else can you call yourself a citizen? If you don't pay off your share of the national debt during your life, it's only fair that you should pay it when you die.

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August 11th, 2005
09:36 am

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stem cell research
Slightest hope worthwhile

Sen. Tom Coburn justifies his opposition to embryonic stem cell research by saying that it cheapens the lives of the "terminally ill or severely handicapped." But most ill and handicapped people would welcome research that offers hope of a cure, however slight.

What really cheapens these people's lives is when politicians tell them that their lives are less important than the lives of doomed embryos. To say that the research should stop because no cures were produced in 12 years is absurd.

Advances in medicine often take longer — and this is a new field. It's also particularly disingenuous of politicians to point to lack of cures after actively working to starve the field of funding.

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July 18th, 2005
06:16 am

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notions of dignity
What Motivates Suicide Bombers?

There are many ways to achieve dignity. You can invent things and take pride in your inventions. Or you can dominate others by force and feel temporarily superior. Which of these ways is most glorified by our culture?

In the ''Iliad,'' dignity meant getting your fair share of the loot. You would hope we had come a long way since then, but apparently not.

We need to work toward making it self-evident that dignity lies in creating things, not in being king of the hill.

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June 30th, 2005
09:21 am

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iraq and 9/11
Oh, what a lovely war

SIR – Americans will indeed accept heavy casualties to prevent another September 11th. However, Iraq had nothing to do with those atrocities.

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June 27th, 2005
08:12 am

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letting the FBI snoop on what people read
Throwing the Book at Gelernter

Re "You Can't Judge a Book by Its Cover, but We May Find a Terrorist by What He Reads," Commentary, June 24: Citizens can't participate in government without educating themselves on "sensitive" subjects. To know whether the government's course in the war on terrorism is sane, we must understand the roots of terrorism.

That requires reading up on subjects such as jihad. But if buying a book on jihad can mean a visit from the newly powerful FBI, many won't dare. If you're branded a terrorist and sent to Guantanamo, what recourse would you have these days?

Thus, letting the FBI snoop on what people read will keep citizens from demanding needed changes to the government's course. That will materially hurt the war on terrorism.

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May 27th, 2005
11:13 am

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intelligent design
Creative science

Creationists concede the credibility of science when they insist on teaching creationism as science and not religion or philosophy.

They adopt names like "creation science" in the hopes of riding the coattails of science to credibility, while rejecting the methods and assumptions that earned science this credibility in the first place.

If they want to use the name "science," they must use scientific standards. Those standards require that any scientific theory be testable and subject to being disproven. Creationism clearly does not make the cut.

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May 5th, 2005
06:46 am

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laura bush talks naughty
Laura Bush, Comic: They're Not All Laughing

Re ''Desperate White House Wife, Episode 1: The Ranch Hand'' (White House Letter, news article, May 2):

How ironic that an attempt to ''humanize'' this presidency with some informal humor had to be ''written by a longtime Washington speechwriter'' and required ''several days of rehearsals''!

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March 17th, 2005
11:25 am

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mental health parity
Food for thought

Presumably, the reason insurers won’t pay for treatment of "non-biological" illnesses such as eating disorders is that these illnesses are seen as "the patient’s fault" — indicative of a lack of character or willpower ["Into Thin Air," News and Features, March 11]. But many "biological" illnesses can result from smoking, bad diet, and lack of exercise. In fact, simple guidelines exist for reducing the risk of biological illnesses via healthy living; no such guidelines exist for reducing the risk of mental illness. So if insurers cover physical illnesses to which the patient may have contributed, they should certainly cover mental illnesses, over which the patient has much less control.

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March 4th, 2005
06:52 am

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religious displays in public buildings
The Commandments and the Court

I'm less bothered by government endorsement of religion than by the hypocrisy of having our government buildings shout ''do not kill'' and ''do not bear false witness'' while we start needless wars based on trumped-up evidence.

If government displays of religion had been pushed by Mother Teresa, I might accept them, but they're pushed by people who often contradict the very messages they want prominently displayed.

Such religious displays would actually serve a useful purpose if seen for what they are: not affirmations of righteousness but testaments to hypocrisy.

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December 27th, 2004
06:58 am

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medical malpractice
The Future of Medical Malpractice

The Democrats' opposition to malpractice reform runs counter to core Democratic values. To those struggling to make ends meet, even a small decrease in cost of health care can mean the difference between getting treatment or not.

It is unconscionable to price the poor out of health care to give others a theoretical chance of collecting for pain and suffering. To those priced out of health care, the right to malpractice awards is useless!

If malpractice reform fails, at least let people opt out of the right to sue in exchange for cheaper health insurance. If most people decide to opt out, the whole malpractice debate will become moot.

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December 20th, 2004
09:38 am

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bush rewards loyalty, not competence
Medal undeserved

Why is President Bush giving former CIA director George Tenet a medal? Certainly not for preventing 9/11. And certainly not for getting it right on Iraq ("Bush honors 3 players key to Iraq Policy," News).

Only one reason is left: Bush is rewarding loyalty. Tenet did not publicly object to Bush's case for war, despite serious doubts within his agency about whether Iraq was a threat. Bush's message to other subordinates: The way to get ahead is not to be right, but to be loyal. That's the same message Saddam Hussein gave his underlings. Bush should know better.

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October 24th, 2004
07:08 am

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bush's choices on iraq and afghanistan
Bush at War: Eye on the Ball?

The question isn't whether we definitely had Osama bin Laden cornered in Afghanistan at Tora Bora. It's whether we've done all in our power to capture him. Had we sent our entire army after Osama bin Laden -- as we did after Saddam Hussein -- would he be still at large?

It's obvious even to nonmilitary observers that we didn't pursue Osama bin Laden with nearly the same vigor as Saddam Hussein. Now, who was more dangerous?

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September 26th, 2004
11:15 am

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bush's problem
The World According to George Bush

Bush's main problem is that he fails to think ahead. He invaded Iraq but didn't plan for the aftermath. He offended allies whose help we now need. He started a war without thinking how it would destabilize the world. He cut corners, bypassing the U.N. Being tough cannot make up for a lack of judgment.

original (unedited) version

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August 29th, 2004
09:41 am

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allowing drug reimportation
Imports vs. no drugs

The opposing view on drug re-importation by William Hubbard, associate commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, mentions a patient who was harmed by imported drugs ("Risks are too high", High prescription costs debate, Aug. 23). But how many patients are harmed when they can't afford drugs because of the ban on drug imports?

People of limited means may just skip their medicine if it's too expensive. For many, the choice isn't between imported and domestic drugs, but between imported drugs and no drugs at all.

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August 22nd, 2004
07:09 am

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buying imported drugs
Why Shouldn't We Buy Imported Drugs?

If it's wrong for retailers to profit from hurricane-caused scarcity of necessities (''With Storm Gone, Floridians Are Hit With Price Gouging,'' front page, Aug. 18), it's wrong for drug makers to profit from government-caused scarcity of drugs.

Yet the Food and Drug Administration supports drug company attempts to restrict imports, citing safety concerns.

If people forgo medicine because of high prices, isn't that unsafe?

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August 14th, 2004
09:29 am

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malpractice reform
Malpractice idea

REGARDING THE ARTICLE ``A booster shot for ailing Mass. health industry," (op ed, Aug. 12), here is a noncontroversial alternative to tort reform: Give cheaper health insurance to those who accept voluntary caps on any future malpractice awards. Doctors who treat such patients can pay less for malpractice insurance and pass on the savings. Patients who want the right to unlimited jury awards can keep that right without forcing everyone else to pay for it.

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August 2nd, 2004
09:25 am

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malpractice reform
Now, That's the Ticket

Torts, as Christina Forbes argues (letter, July 30), serve a useful purpose, but they do drive up medical costs. To solve this problem, let people opt out of the tort system: Give cheaper health insurance to those who agree to limits on any malpractice awards. Doctors who treat such patients can pay less for malpractice insurance and pass on the savings. People who want the right to unlimited jury awards can continue to play the lottery, but on their own nickel.

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08:49 am

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reducing malpractice costs
Voluntary Caps

Re "In Defense of Courtroom Advocates," Commentary, July 26: Bashing trial lawyers won't reduce medical costs, and capping jury awards looks politically difficult. Instead, give cheaper health insurance to people who voluntarily agree to caps on any future malpractice award.

Doctors who treat such patients can pay less for malpractice insurance and pass on the savings. People who want the right to unlimited jury awards can continue to play the lottery, but on their own nickel.

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July 15th, 2004
04:56 am

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israel's barrier
Security barrier

SIR - Israel's security barrier will reduce Palestinian hardships in the long term, by stopping terrorism and creating conditions for peace (”Israel's illegal but unstoppable barrier”, Economist.com, July 9th). There will be no peace until terror ends, and terror won't end until there is barrier. Palestinians say the barrier encroaches on their future state; but there will be no state until the terror stops, and measures short of a barrier have failed to stop the killing. Having failed to stop the terror themselves, Palestinians must accept the barrier as a necessary hardship on the road to a state.

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June 17th, 2004
07:11 am

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why the u.s. should support israel
If the Israelis Pull Out of Gaza

International legitimacy and the moral high ground are not security guarantees. The United States should formally commit to defending Israel once it leaves the West Bank and Gaza. Congress should authorize the automatic use of force in case of an Arab attack on Israel. This will enable Israelis to support full withdrawal and will force the Arabs to compromise by ending their hopes of destroying Israel.

Why commit to a possible future war? Because ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will aid the war on terror. Images from the conflict feed the recruiting of Al Qaeda. If committing to an unlikely future war helps us win the present one, we should take the risk.

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May 9th, 2004
07:14 am

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considerations when renting an apartment
Rental ethics

I'm looking for an apartment. If I take an apartment priced below what I can afford, I take it away from someone who can't afford a more expensive one. If I take a more expensive one, I contribute to the upward pressure on prices for all apartments. Do these choices cancel out, or is there a preference?

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April 15th, 2004
09:15 am

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gmail and privacy
Brought to You by Google

The privacy problems of Google's e-mail service, which displays advertising based on e-mail content, are greater than Google admits ["E-Mail Ad Plans Raise Fears About Privacy," Business, April 2]. While e-mail analysis is done by computer, the computer code that does the analysis must be written and debugged by humans.

If the ads have a low response rate, Google, to find the problem, will have to look at the attached e-mails.

Google promises that "no human reads your mail to target ads or related information to you," but that leaves open the possibility that its employees will read mail to improve the general ad-targeting strategy.

Also, by responding to ads, Google's e-mail users reveal to advertisers something about the content of their messages -- for example, the presence of certain keywords. That information can be associated with a name and address when someone orders a product, then resold to third parties.

Some people may find that Google e-mail is worth the loss of privacy, but Google should do more to tell consumers what they're getting into.

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March 26th, 2004
07:21 am

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tracing sources of nuclear material
Tracing Bombs

A March 23 letter mocks the notion that ''if terrorists know a bomb can be traced, they will be less likely to try to use one.'' While suicide bombers won't be deterred by the prospect of revenge, those who send them and those who provide them with weapons will be.

Naming the culprit can also help enlist allies in our fight; many Arabs doubted Osama bin Laden's involvement in 9/11 until a video showed him boasting of the deed.

After the Iraq weapons of mass destruction fiasco, accurately naming our enemies is especially important.

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December 15th, 2003
07:25 am

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amnesty for insurgents
Saddam Hussein in Custody: A Chapter Is Closed

With Saddam Hussein captured, we should offer an amnesty to at least the rank-and-file members of the insurgency who turn in their arms. Offered from a position of strength, the amnesty would be much more likely to help end the insurgency than if offered later in less happy times.

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November 29th, 2003
08:58 am

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israeli settlements
Israeli Settlements' Role in Mideast Conflict

Re "Burdens on Peace: Fences and Arafat's Empty Words," letters, Nov. 24: Bruce Friedman asks, "What will Israel receive in return [for removing the settlements]?" First, Israeli soldiers won't have to guard the settlements anymore and will be able to focus on protecting Israel proper. Second, Israel will rid itself of a huge moral liability when it stops controlling the lives of the Palestinians. Third, Israel will rob Yasser Arafat of his ability to blame Israel for all Palestinian woes; this will encourage the Palestinians to find better leaders. Fourth, separation from the Palestinians will silence calls for a "unified state" that would destroy Israel's Jewish character. Clearly, evacuating the settlements is in Israel's interest even without reciprocal gestures from Arafat.

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October 6th, 2003
07:26 am

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justifications offered for the iraq war
No Illegal Arms, No Casus Belli?

Re ''A Reckoning: Iraq Arms Report Poses Test for Bush'' (news analysis, Oct. 3):

President Bush is right that the world is a better place without Saddam Hussein, the failure to find weapons of mass destruction notwithstanding.

But without pre-emptive strikes based on flawed intelligence, it would be an even better place.

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July 29th, 2003
07:30 am

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nuclear arms
Curb the Spread of Nuclear Arms

In ''Nuclear Breakout'' (editorial, July 27), you missed an important step in curbing the spread of nuclear weapons: dismantling America's own nuclear arsenal.

It's hypocritical to call on others not to acquire nuclear weapons while we insist on keeping our own. If the United States -- with its dominant conventional army -- can't give up its nuclear deterrent, how can it ask weaker countries to give up theirs?

More important, are there still circumstances in which the United States would use a strategic nuclear weapon? In recent conflicts, we made a point of trying to avoid civilian casualties. Clearly this would be impossible with a Hiroshima-type attack.

Why, then, are we keeping these weapons?

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May 18th, 2003
07:31 am

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outsourcing of jobs
India, Jobs and Peace

Re ''More 'Can I Help You?' Jobs Migrate From U.S. to India'' and ''American Official Praises India's Move to Defuse Tensions With Pakistan'' (news articles, May 11):

You report that India is attracting American jobs, and that India is moving to ease tensions with Pakistan. Could these events be related? The more American jobs move to India, the more India has to lose from an escalation of tensions. Also, higher employment means that people can find fulfillment in work rather than in pursuit of nationalist ambitions.

The United States should seek to employ more people in troubled countries, as a way of stabilizing these countries and giving their governments a stake in stability. Perhaps we could offer free English classes to increase the number of employable people. Wouldn't it be great to read someday that North Korea is reducing tensions in order to attract American jobs?

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April 30th, 2003
09:18 am

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preventing bioweapons proliferation
How Much Do Bioweapons Cost?

It is baffling that the FBI would refuse to pay $ 5 million (and issue immigration permits) in exchange for securing known stocks of bioweapons when we just spent billions on a war to eradicate such weapons in Iraq -- and have yet to find any ["Lethal Legacy: Bioweapons for Sale," front page, April 20].

A more cost-effective way to secure such weapons would be to offer money and citizenship to foreign weapons scientists who agree to turn in the weapons they have.

We also need to think, before developing new weapons, about whether they ever will be turned against us. Most of the weapons of mass destruction that threaten us were pioneered by the United States -- for example, the Stinger missiles that now are a threat to commercial airliners.

Once the genie is out of the bottle, who knows whom it will serve?

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March 4th, 2003
07:34 am

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"do no harm" in foreign policy
Clouds of War, Hopes for Peace

In ''The Long Bomb'' (column, March 2), Thomas L. Friedman is saying two things: that war in Iraq will be a good thing if done right, and that the Bush team is unlikely to do it right. Why doesn't he add the obvious: if we can't do it right, we shouldn't start.

If a surgeon bungles his preparations and is not fit for the operation or the post-operative care, should he still proceed?

Those who would cure the world through drastic surgery should learn the medical maxim ''First, do no harm.''

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December 3rd, 2002
07:36 am

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getting iraqi defectors to tell us what they know
Calling Iraqi Defectors

Re '' 'Sodom' Hussein's Iraq,'' by Thomas L. Friedman (column, Dec. 1):

A potential Iraqi defector may decide to withhold his information, for fear of consequences to his country. Any revelations will trigger a devastating American invasion costing thousands of Iraqi lives. The war will destabilize the volatile region and turn Iraq into a de facto United States protectorate for years. The conscientious defector may doubt the sincerity of American commitment to ordinary Iraqis, given their suffering under United States-backed sanctions.

To win the cooperation of concerned Iraqis, guaranteeing the safety of their immediate families won't be enough. We must guarantee, to the extent possible, the well-being and dignity of the Iraqi people. A new United Nations resolution is needed, specifying our plans for a post-Saddam Hussein Iraq. Otherwise, an Iraqi ''Sakharov'' may worry that ''severe consequences'' mean just that for his country.

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August 10th, 2002
07:55 am

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costs of spam email
The costs of spam (editorial, Aug. 6) go far beyond the ''twinge of disappointment'' you feel after realizing you've been had. Spam costs Internet users 10 billion euros a year in increased connection fees, according to a 2001 European Union study. It also costs businesses in lost productivity, and becomes more than a nuisance when important messages get lost amid mountains of junk.

We can counter spam by not responding to its dubious offers. If you respond to spam, you encourage spammers to continue harassing others. Spammers pollute our electronic environment and waste its limited resources; let them face the same ostracism as ''traditional'' polluters.

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May 29th, 2002
08:02 am

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universal health insurance
Before We Lecture Cuba

Re ''Cuba's Other Face'' (letter, May 23):

The letter writer notes Cuba's low infant mortality and illiteracy rates. I'd like to add that all Cubans get free health care. By contrast, in the United States some 40 million people lack health insurance.

Before lecturing Cubans on how to run their country, shouldn't we close this shameful gap in our own backyard?

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March 2nd, 2002
08:05 am

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criticizing a wartime president
War and Dissent

Re ''Democrats Starting to Fault President on the War's Future'' (front page, March 1):

You quote Trent Lott, the Senate Republican leader, as saying, ''How dare Senator Daschle criticize President Bush while we are fighting our war on terrorism?''

The war on terrorism will take many years, and we will never be sure that it's over. Should all criticism of the president stop indefinitely? Will that help us in the long run?

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Ilya Shlyakhter Powered by LiveJournal.com