Our story on how the French and Dutch rejection of the E.U. constitution derailed the movement toward a united Europe drew mail from those who celebrated the no votes as a defeat of Brussels bureaucrats. Disappointed supporters of Continental integration mourned a missed opportunity
Re "Brussels Burnout" [June 13]: by voting against its ratification, the people of France and the Netherlands did not reject the European constitution. They rejected the fat cats sitting in Brussels who get rich at Europeans' expense and arrogantly tell us how to live. The E.U. has the most undemocratic political system, but it could work very well if national leaders of member countries would keep their hands off it and let the European Parliament, which is elected by the people and therefore has the mandate, make decisions regarding the E.U. The only way the E.U. will work is to get rid of the Brussels bureaucrats and have a civil service that is responsible only to the elected government of Europe.
The E.U. constitution is dead, but it would be fatal for Europe if Brussels continued with business as usual. We don't need another constitutional convention with myriad special interests complicating the process. Let's have each member state provide a representative to a committee to produce a draft constitution containing only the fundamentals of the Union, its aims and basic rules of cooperation. One of the major flaws of the current draft was that it was not digestible by ordinary people. After sufficient public promotion, the new draft should be submitted to a referendum in all member states on the same day. That would hand Europe back to Europeans and rejuvenate the ties between the Union and its citizens.
Have we gone mad? Right now I feel ashamed to be a European. We have lost touch with reality. The French and Dutch no votes won't help our fragile and relatively undefined political and economic situation in the world one little bit. The rejection of the constitution solved no problems, and it wasn't a demonstration of the power of the people. It shattered the dream of a strong, unified Europe that would counter U.S. supremacy.
Out of the Shadows
"Inside Watergate's Last Chapter" [June 13] was a good history lesson for the younger generation, which missed the biggest political scandal of the 20th century. President Richard Nixon and his top aides deliberately flouted the law and lived to regret it, largely because of former FBI official W. Mark Felt, a.k.a. Deep Throat. Revisionists like Pat Buchanan, a former member of Nixon's staff, who would have people believe that Felt, not Nixon, was the criminal, have in recent days geared up a propaganda machine that would have been the envy of the Kremlin during the cold war. Buchanan and friends are in denial, delusional or willfully deceptive. Many people learned a lesson from Watergate and the failed cover-up. Others, apparently, are still covering up.
Mitchell J. Fine
El Dorado Hills, California, U.S.
A Pressing Need
In his essay "Dark Secrets in the Parking Garage" [June 13], Richard Schickel wondered whether we could use more investigative reporters like Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein in Washington now. There is no question about it. We need others like them to uncover the lies and distortions that are issued each day by the Bush Administration. John Dean, Nixon's lawyer, has branded this Administration "worse than Watergate."
Robert F. Martina
Shreveport, Louisiana, U.S.
News You Might Lose
"Read All Over" [June 13] noted declining newspaper circulation figures in Europe and North America and reminded me of what happened in the book business. Our family owned a small, moderately successful bookstore for nearly 20 years, but when I first walked into a chain bookstore in the U.S. and saw all the top sellers at as much as 40% off retail, I thought, We're dead. Sure enough, a few years later, we closed our doors. I sense the same thing in the print news. If an old geezer like me gets most of my news off the Internet, what about 20- and 30-year-olds? It is so much more convenient to scan various world newspapers online, and I'm sure the younger crowd today just doesn't have the patience or tolerance to mess with newspapers. The papers had better move quickly if they are going to survive.