Deal or No Deal?

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Deal or No Deal?
Re “Statecraft and Stagecraft” [Oct. 14]: Fareed Zakaria has opted for a positive evaluation of the speech by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani at the U.N. General Assembly. I would prefer to look at it from a different perspective. Rouhani has a pleasant, smiling countenance. Cool and composed, he is certainly unlike his predecessor. Yet one would not know if under the good gesture lies an anger long nurtured against the West. Iranians have suffered long years of sanctions; many are still mindful of the injustice forced on them. One cannot jump to conclusions too fast as yet. Just wait and see if there could be any definite improvement between Iran and America in the foreseeable future.
Bondi Dan, christchurch,
New Zealand

America cannot be so naive as to take at face value President Rouhani’s moderateness. His calm diplomacy should not be interpreted as being weak.
Mencius Ding,
Beijing

The philosophy, globally accepted for 60 years, for minimizing the risk of nuclear war has been mutually assured destruction. By this rationale, all Arab countries and Iran are justified in acquiring nuclear weapons to balance the perceived risk from Israel. I don’t think anyone thinks this would improve tensions in the Middle East. Thus the only feasible solution is a nuclear-arms embargo throughout all countries in the area, supervised by the U.N. with regular inspections. The consideration applies to chemical weapons too.
Bernard Heaven,
Cilgerran, Wales

Iran is definitely an international tragedy, as Zakaria concludes, but it is unfortunate that he does not mention the actions by the U.S. and U.K. back in 1953 that ended Iran’s possible transition into a democratic state. Readers ignorant about this historic encroachment may not understand a humiliated nation’s conception of U.S. and E.U. sanctions. Any solution must recognize this historical background.
Lars Eriksson,
Nacka, Sweden

Democracy Shuts Down
Re “Loss Leaders” [Oct. 14]: It is sad to watch as a once great democracy, the U.S., moves toward a society governed by a small but influential minority. I speak of an extreme group of Republicans who are prepared to destroy their nation’s economy and risk harming those of other countries simply because a law, passed in both houses, challenged in and ruled legal by the Supreme Court, does not suit them. America holds itself up as the ideal democracy and seeks to tell others how they should conduct themselves, yet at the same time it allows a minority — who have hijacked the system such that they cannot be voted out of office — to hold sway. Others, outside the U.S., look on in sadness and wonder whether America can heal its political system or is doomed to slowly self-destruct.
Keith R. Pike-Weiersmüller,
St. Gallen, Switzerland

The founding fathers, when they wrote the U.S. Constitution, simply could not have imagined that a majority of Congress could ever be so depraved and irresponsible that they would refuse to vote for a budget in order to sabotage laws passed previously — just to get their own way. So they did not cater for that possibility. Other democratic countries recognize the depth of human greed and egotism. In New Zealand, we have the rule that if parliament fails to agree on a lawful budget, the Governor General is obliged to dissolve parliament and arrange for fresh elections. Will U.S. politicians be able and willing to learn from other successful democracies and pass some similar amendment to their Constitution?
Andy Espersen,
Nelson, New Zealand

The U.S. does have a degree of ideological intensity that is puzzling to outsiders. It is a bit much for Barack Obama to complain too much, as he and his Vice President Joe Biden used to vote against Republican Administration budget and debt measures all the time. Similarly, Democratic obstruction led by then Senator Edward Kennedy blocked health care reform in the 1970s proposed by President Richard Nixon.
Martin Gordon,
Flynn, Australia

How disheartening it must be for the American people to watch while ideology-driven political polarization and repeated affronts to the democratic process, like the recent spate of filibusters, risk making the U.S. a basket case among developed Western-style democracies.
John R. Lewis,
Southport, England

The terrorists can lay back. They don’t need to try to weaken the U.S. The Republicans by now are doing a better job. Sorry for the U.S. and its people. They don’t need this theater. Shame on the Republicans!
Heinz Müller,
Pfullendorf, Germany

A Woman’s Touch
Hannah Beech is right on the dot: we women in Japan have been playing subsidiary roles to men for centuries — far too long [“You Mean Women Have Brains?” Oct. 14]. For instance, as a financial analyst, I am surrounded by all-male officers, apart from female clerks. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe makes a very pertinent and sensible remark about encouraging greater participation of women in decisionmaking, politically and economically. I am all for this. Female talent is still untapped. There have been a good number of female entrepreneurs and political leaders in other countries for decades, but not Japan. Can our country afford not to realize such an inadequacy?
Miko Isetan,
Kobe, Japan

Food for Thought
Re “Till Mold Do Us Part” [Oct. 14]: I moved to the U.K. from Turkey six years ago, and I still find it hard to believe things like potatoes, onions, eggs, garlic, oils and vinegar can have use-by dates. I have seen so much good food go to waste, just because people “didn’t want to risk it.” When I was growing up, my mother kept food till it went bad, and no fresh fruit and vegetables ever had sell-by dates. If it looked O.K., smelled O.K. and wasn’t moldy, we’d use it. The article was funny as well as thought-provoking, and hopefully will bring awareness to the matter of unnecessary food waste.
Irmak Nur Sunal,
London

A Friend Indeed?
Re “Behind the Charm Offensive” [Oct. 7]: Should the West trust Hassan Rouhani, especially in light of his predecessor’s track record? A fair question. But before we rush to answer, let’s reflect on the fact that our globalized societies are so imbued with fear, mistrust and suspicion, that sometimes we refuse to acknowledge a sincere gesture for what it really is, and are afraid to accept a friendly face for what he might really be: a friend.
Athanasios Hatzilakos,
Athens

I believe, despite the hostility generated by the recent comments by Benjamin Netanyahu on new Iranian President Rouhani, Israel should be pragmatic and deal carefully with the new leadership in Iran. The Israeli Prime Minister is no fool, and he could be just the ideal strongman to deal with Iran on equal terms and hammer out a relationship in the months and years to come.
Ronen Ghose,
Wolverton, England

Gun of the Sun
I read Hannah Beech’s article “Return of the Samurai” with great interest [Oct. 7]. Beech could have just changed the name of the country while writing her piece and deal with the other nations worried about China’s rise. South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and India are also regional actors wary of Chinese ambitions, and the common point they all have is the bolstering — year on year — of their defense expenses. Those nations’ highly professional and well-equipped air forces rank among the best in the region. And there is still another common point: commercially speaking, the U.S. profits from that situation. Those nations are regular customers of American defense companies. Let us just hope diplomacy will be stronger than business in that matter.
Christophe Gasztych,
Ste.-Croix-en-Plaine, France

The story highlights the fact that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is in the process of soul-searching so as to strike a balance between the interwoven economic and military futures of Japan. He seems to be treading cautiously in order to convince the U.S. of his intentions to respect the Japanese constitution renouncing war altogether. At the same time, he is making sincere and overt efforts to contain the growing influence of China by cultivating healthy economic and military relations with Asian neighbors. Only time will tell how successful Abe will be in his endeavors.
Mahendra Mahanti,
Bhubaneswar, India

As a 30-year-old, ordinary citizen in Japan, I’m for the revision of the Japanese constitution. Doing so would be a reasonable act. Who on earth can feel safe while neighboring countries are constantly casting a malignant glance?
Daisuke Shoji,
Chiba, Japan

I feel that these clearly biased pro-Japan writers in the Conversation section have had a distorted education of the history of Japan. Goro Shintani said, “What makes Asia very dangerous is the expansionism of China” [Oct. 28]. I can’t agree with this. The expansionism is not of China but of Japan, which is in fact sneaking into the Pacific area — as in the Pacific War, in which it victimized countries and for which it has never apologized. Now the American desire to bar China’s power is allowing Japan the chance to cunningly gain the excuse of re-creating an army that it was rightly banned from doing postwar.
Guy Woo,
London

Italian Politics
Re “When Politics Worked” [Oct. 7]: Chris Matthews’ considerations, based on experience, are perfectly suited to describe the dramatic Italian situation, in which the parties, despite the general status of “great coalition,” will never be able to compromise anything for the wellness of the country.
Alessandro Piana,
Milan

You Had to Be There
Re “Online Learning Will Make College Cheaper” [Oct. 7]: My main objection toward online learning is the lost camaraderie in university. In university, I have met so many friends from different backgrounds, and I enjoy interacting with different groups on a daily basis. Would online learning, which is somewhat similar to homeschooling, provide the same experience? Online learning would not be able to give students the human interaction and support they need, and I believe a university education is more than just the degree you graduate with.
Celeste Chia,
Singapore

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