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Letters: Mar. 29, 2004

8 minute read
TIME

AFGHANISTAN: THE OTHER WAR

The Taliban is like a venomous cobra, striking at everyone who wants to help Afghanistan become modern and independent [March 8]. The token presence of American forces or U.N. peacekeepers will not bring about a solution. The entire world will have to struggle for years, helping Afghanistan in its transformation. We must achieve this goal. K.C. SUBHASH CHANDRA Bangalore, India

I got home from work weary, upset by the price of gasoline and generally stressed out and found your issue about the war in Afghanistan in my mailbox. It snapped me right out of my gloom. Up in the hills of Afghanistan, exhausted and laden with weapons and gear, an American perseveres. The face of Marine Corporal Patrick Gravenese on your cover said it all. He is tired of the war, but he has to go on–for all of us. We here at home lament the minor difficulties we encounter, while our troops are over there, sweating it. God bless them. SID O’BRIEN Signal Hill, Calif.

My immediate reaction to your cover headline “Afghanistan: The Other War” was, Shouldn’t this be the only war? F. WILLIAM ROFF Neptune City, N.J.

Afghan president Hamid Karzai was not necessarily the choice of all the various Afghan factions and there are people who feel strongly that there was interference in the political process that led to his selection. As you reported, to this day Karzai is protected by U.S. bodyguards. If Afghans regard his presidency as legitimate, presumably some of them could be found to perform this duty. PAUL KUNINO LYNCH Katoomba, Australia

NO MORE CLOWNING AROUND

I agree with columnist Joe Klein’s argument that the issues the public has focused on are turning the election debate into a circus [March 8]. It’s time for the war on terrorism, the economy, our kids’ future and other priority issues to come to the forefront of the debate. Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction, gay marriage and which candidate served more patriotically during the Vietnam War must take a backseat in the clown car of the circus, where they belong. MARK D. FULLERTON Mesa, Ariz.

Don’t sell the American people short, Joe Klein. We are ready to roll! It may take a while to rouse us, but then we react with a vengeance. Remember Watergate and President Nixon’s fall from power? Americans were incensed, and they demanded justice. We are shocked at the weekly casualties and violence of the Iraq war. We are angry about the loss of jobs and economic decline. We are very concerned about the future and capable leadership. We are not paralyzed, and we want to do something about the economic and foreign policies of the Bush Administration. BERNARD FRANKEL Shaker Heights, Ohio

We have only the media to blame for the circus-like atmosphere surrounding issues like Janet Jackson’s Super Bowl fiasco, Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ and same-sex marriages. If the media toned down the rhetoric and images, perhaps Americans would not be impervious to the genuine violence that pervades our culture and would focus on the election’s serious issues. RALPH J. PALMER Schaumburg, Ill.

BUSH’S RE-ELECTION BID

You reported that the president’s re-election team has already raised more than $140 million [March 8]. This has to be one of the most obscene pursuits in the history of the American presidency. The U.S. is for sale to Big Money. ROBERT FEDORCHEK Fairfield, Conn.

Bush may have raised a huge sum for his re-election campaign, but money can’t buy credibility with the voters. Remember the Bush team’s “careful planning” and patronizing self-confidence before launching the war in Iraq? PHILLIP NELSON Aptos, Calif.

In politics as in life, you cannot get the best but often have to choose the least bad. Bush not only has proved incapable of solving problems at home (creating an enormous budget deficit) but has also endangered the whole world by drawing back from international commitments (like the Kyoto Protocol), undermining the authority of the U.N. and ignoring the advice of old allies and the sentiments of the international community. Thanks to Bush’s blind policies, the world is a much more dangerous place today. The American people must put an end to this. MORENA NANNETTI Munich

MARCHING DOWN THE AISLE

Your article “For Better Or For Worse?” [March 8] described the upsurge in semilegalized gay marriages. I am disappointed that marriage licenses for same-sex couples are being issued without the proper laws in place in all our states. To avoid a major conflict between gays and heterosexuals, we need to have this issue addressed now, before more mayors seek their 15 minutes of fame. We should not have to wait years for the legal remedy of the constitutional ban that President Bush supports. SALLY FLORENCE Durango, Colo.

Adultery is a much bigger threat to heterosexual marriage than gay marriage will ever be. If I were candidate John Kerry, I would come out in favor of marriage for gays and for a constitutional amendment outlawing adultery. That way I’d get the support of both the gay community and the religious right. SERGIO ASENSIO North Potomac, Md.

The key issue of gay marriage is not morality but law. What would we do if a group of unlicensed drivers simply decided to create their own licenses? We don’t need a constitutional amendment to uphold the laws of our country. SAM STOLTZFUS Lancaster, Pa.

It is dangerous to adopt a constitutional amendment that denies any individual a right. How hypocritical are those who for decades have championed states’ rights and now want to place a constitutional ban on marriage, a matter that has always been left to the states? Who ever heard of federally approved marriage? That is what such an amendment would impose. Tinkering with the Constitution would be a big mistake. MARTIN SCHLANK Aberdeen, N.J.

Marriage is a heterosexual practice. At the heart of the gay activists’ agenda is homosexuals’ desire to feel good about themselves and what they do. But is marriage just about feeling good? Should it be used merely to boost the self-esteem of those seeking validation and legitimacy or the blessings of society? Let’s not overhaul the entire institution of marriage merely to satisfy the psychological needs of a few. LEE YATLEE Haapiti, French Polynesia

AN INSULT TO CHURCHILL?

In his essay “If It Could Happen To Churchill” [March 8], Andrew Sullivan cited the electoral defeat of Winston Churchill after he guided Britain to victory in World War II and warned that a similar fate may await President Bush. But to compare Bush with Churchill as a wartime leader is an insult to Churchill’s memory. During the war, the British Prime Minister inspired his citizens to stand tall while he held together shaky international alliances and led the world to triumph over the Nazi threat. Bush sells fear to his citizens and has shaken long-standing alliances. He has led the U.S. to war with a country that was not involved in the 9/11 terrorist attacks and was not a serious threat to the world. And the mastermind behind 9/11 is still at large. A great wartime leader? I think not. CHRIS LINDBERG Chicago

Sullivan’s attempt to draw parallels between Churchill and Bush was unconvincing. Churchill’s war against Hitler was necessary. Bush’s war against Saddam Hussein was not. Churchill knew what Hitler was doing. Bush relied on faulty intelligence about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction. After the war, Britons may have wanted a different political party to lead them during peace. Postwar America’s decision about who should be President is still up in the air. Only the elections will tell. RAVI NEKOO Kuala Lumpur

Churchill and Bush can both be considered wartime leaders, just as Secretariat and Mr. Ed were both horses. JAMES RHODES Norman, Okla.

British voters didn’t “eject” Churchill as Prime Minister following World War II. His Conservative Party suffered an overwhelming defeat by the Labour Party in parliamentary elections. Unlike the U.S. system, in which voters support a particular candidate, Britain’s governmental system is controlled by the party that holds the most seats in Parliament. If Britain had had the U.S. system of government, the Brits could have voted directly for Churchill. WILLIAM BEDFORD Toronto

INHERIT THE WIND

Reading the interview “10 Questions For Bill Gates” [March 8], I was appalled by TIME’s asking Gates whether he had told his kids that he was giving away their inheritance. Gates’ money is his and not his children’s. It was especially wrongheaded to imply that Gates’ philanthropy for health-related causes is less worthy than passing on money to children who will have an upbringing strong enough to allow them to earn their own money. Parents do not owe their children any inheritance beyond a good, solid background that enables them to thrive and grow independently as adults. SHARON EDWARDS Mullica Hill, N.J.

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