Sir-- I wish I could write as eloquent a response to 'Bush's mad mess' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 22-28 September) as it deserves. But I'm not a writer, just a horrified North American that is truly happy to see that (hopefully) the tide is turning on the Bush clan. I have been living under the horrors of the Bush regime for a terribly long time, but this shift in popularity is uplifting. I expect that most of the widespread damages caused by Bush are irreparable but we must recover what we can, as quickly as possible. Although this article is a horror story, it is so comforting to see it in print and know that I'm not the only one with these views. Thank you for posting it.
Sir-- You had me cheering 'Bush's mad mess' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 22-28 September) -- until you said we should break the ties with the Democratic Party and pursue an independent course. That betrays a lack of understanding of how our government works. Like it or not, this is a two-party system. The majority party controls all the committees, therefore all the decisions. Minority parties just get to whine.
Sir-- Any student who has paid attention in class knows the official response in a crisis is the mayor or town leader. If that person can't handle it he/she goes to the governor. If the governor needs help, he/she goes to the president. Federal troops just don't show up and enter a state without being asked.
Governor Blanco has already admitted that she should have asked for help sooner from the president but did any of the regular news services print that? No... because they still want to lay blame on a man who tried to get the governor to do what was right. Mull this over... the democrats have been in control of Louisiana for the last 60 years. If there is poverty in that state or in New Orleans it's because of their policies of keeping the blacks poor. When will they realise the Democrats aren't helping blacks. They are holding them back. Open your eyes and ears and pay attention. The Democrats are the racists. Not the Republicans... but they are all so brainwashed that they can't see the forest for the trees.
Sir-- Thank you for the copy of Cindy Sheehan's quotes. Our media is toothless.
Sir-- This is interesting news, 'Zarqawi's war whoops' ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 22-28 September). I didn't realise that the plan to invade Iraq began with the Clinton administration back in 1998 when Ms Albright was secretary of state. One explanation expressed by a former member of the Iraqi National Congress lays the blames squarely on the United States. The politician, who belonged to the Iraqi opposition front in exile during the rule of Saddam Hussein, cites a 1998 meeting with Albright to make his point. "I asked her if the Americans had a plan to protect the Iraqis during the attack on Iraq and after the toppling of the regime," said the politician, who spoke on condition of anonymity. "Her answer was: 'we don't care'."
Truth is told
Sir-- 'In Praise of Al-Nakba' by Salman Abu Sitta ( Al-Ahram Weekly, 22-28 September) brings to life the history of two heroic Intifadas by the rank-and-file of Palestinian people. These valiant Arabs who lost their land and people to an imposed Balfour Declaration, without rhyme or reason and with the support of the US are now totally neglected by the government-controlled US press. I salute Mr Abu Sitta for being brave enough to tell the truth. How prophetic was Toynbee whom he quotes at the end of his brilliant article: "The Jews' immediate reaction to their experience (of persecution in Europe) was to become persecutors (of Arabs) in their turn."
As Peter, Paul, and Mary used to sing in "Where have all the flowers gone?" one might echo this voice of reason with the question: "when will they ever learn."
Not too difficult
Sir-- If the LTTE wanted to kill the foreign minister they could have done it any time around 1994 or shortly afterwards when the maximum political damage was inflicted on the LTTE by his efforts. Now the LTTE has abandoned its demand for secession and has been involved in international political propaganda campaigning for a federal system. Why should they jeopardise it by getting involved in the minister's murder at this stage and what are they going to achieve? On the other hand, the JVP, a Sinhala chauvinist party whose only political aim is to malign the LTTE and delegitimise the LTTE's activities, has everything to gain from this political assassination.
More hours please
Sir-- I often visit the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. However, it bothers and amazes me that the time allocated for research in such a big library does not exceed four hours a day (specifically from 3pm to 7pm). I believe that those four hours are not enough and I hope that the people responsible for the management of the library can extend the time allocated for research.
Sir-- More than 170 world leaders attended the 60th annual session of the United Nations. All those elaborate security arrangements, five-star food and accommodation and lots of hoo-ha. But what exactly did we get out of that summit?
Blair and Bush were all over the place, sidelining all issues except their own. And what exactly were their issues? Yes, it was all about punishing yet more countries, Iran and Syria, for allegedly doing things that Blair and Bush's countries have been doing for decades. There was a lot of blathering about fighting terrorism, yet over 170 heads of states failed to tell us what terrorism is.
How can we possibly make the UN more effective when at the heart of the UN, in the Security Council, we have one of the most arrogant and iniquitous mechanisms at work -- the permanent membership with veto? Including Russia, there are three permanent members in Europe alone, yet there are no permanent members to represent the 1.4 billion Muslims worldwide. There are no permanent members for any Africans, South Asians or Arabs. I suppose their lives are slightly cheaper than European and American lives.
The most important issue for the UN at the moment is to either abolish permanent membership and veto or distribute it equally to all regions of the globe. Sadly this very important issue was sidelined completely.
And to add insult to injury, Israel is seeking a seat in the Security Council. No doubt Britain and America will be doing all they can for their Israeli friends. A country that has violated more Security Council resolutions than any other, now wants a seat in the Security Council. It's like appointing the most wanted thief of a country as the chief of police.
No such thing
Sir-- Before this American administration talks about democratising the Middle East, they should look at the state of democracy at home in the US. What has happened in modern bureaucratic societies, that parade as democracies, is that the chance to reason and the ability to be free has been lost. Such "democracies" exist in form only and not in essence. Choices are not formulated by a "public" but rather insinuated upon a highly propagandised "mass society" that knows next to nothing regarding public issues. The person thinks he or she is free and living under a "democracy" but the reality of the situation is much different.
A democratic society assumes an "informed" public, as against a propagandised "mass society". Those in a "mass society" have their hopes and aspirations conditioned by what others have told them and unconsciously acquired habits based upon such conditioning. Those in a public formulate their values and choices themselves based on substantive reason, as C Wright Mills explained in the 1950s.
Under a system where the "mass society" has not yet gained enough information to make choices as a "public", choices that have structural consequences for their societies, democracy in essence is impossible. What exists in America is not democracy but rather an oligarchy of the corporate, military and political elite.