The possibility that Ségolène Royal could become France's first female President excited many readers, but others questioned whether her popularity will last through a difficult campaign
Ségolène Royal has succeeded by presenting herself as the image of honorable French womanhood and employing the politics of charm [Sept. 18]. She is adept at handling policy issues pragmatically rather than ideologically. Since her partner, Socialist Party secretary François Hollande, has also been touted as a potential presidential candidate, there is an across-the-water parallel. Like Hillary and Bill Clinton in the U.S., this may be another welcome case of getting two for the price of one.
Martin L. Grey
High Wycombe, England
Your cover story on Royal, the most likely presidential candidate of the French Socialist Party, provided excellent background on the possibility of this unprecedented phenomenon in French politics a woman President. But you missed one point. Behind Royal's feminine charm and photogenic smile beats a heart that is as red as any socialist's heart can be. Royal has as one of her role models British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Look at the damage he has done to Britain. And don't forget, the French resist change. At the moment Royal is by far the most popular politician in France, and that is an undeniable achievement. But come polling day, a miracle will be needed to prevent conservative Union for a Popular Movement candidate Nicolas Sarkozy from becoming the next French President. Plus ça change ...
Karl H. Pagac
Torture on Trial
Do critics really believe that the murderous terrorists of Al-Qaeda can be reasoned with? [Sept. 18] Appeasers apply the word illegal when evaluating the steps taken by the U.S. and Britain in Iraq. Let us be clear: Saddam Hussein was a butcher. Kofi Annan claims that the countries of the Middle East are unhappy with the actions of the coalition. Does that include those who have declared that Israel should be wiped off the map? It's time some people got out of cloud-cuckoo-land and into reality. Action, not words, saves lives when terrorism is involved. Millions more would have been saved if we had acted "illegally" toward the Nazi regime in the 1930s. The free world has much to thank George W. Bush and Tony Blair for, and I for one applaud their courage.
As the U.S. commemorated the fifth anniversary of 9/11, the U.S. government continued to maintain several hundred people in an illegal prison at Guantánamo Bay. Don't Americans realize the damage they inflict on their own image, democracy and ultimately Western civilisation? If we ever come to a "clash of civilisations," as some historians have suggested is possible, or to the religious war imagined by others, we will owe it exclusively to the hypocrisy and criminal behavior of the U.S. government.
São Paulo, Brazil
A King's Vision for Peace
In time's Sept. 18 interview, King Abdullah II of Jordan claimed that "the Lebanese war dramatically opened all eyes to the fact that if we don't solve the Palestinian issue, the future looks pretty bleak for the Middle East." The Lebanese war had nothing to do with the Palestinian issue. Hizballah's leaders, and their masters in Iran, are seeking to destroy Israel. Any solution of the Palestinian issue that falls short of Israel's destruction will leave many Muslim elements unsatisfied; they will strike again, only with better and more lethal weapons next time. Abdullah knows that truth. But he would never say it. It's more convenient and much safer for him to blame Israel.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Ford's Uphill Road
Re "Ford: just fix the car" [Sept. 18]: As a former Ford Maverick owner who remembers the gas shortages of the 1970s, I was appalled when the first suvs rolled off the line. I was even more appalled when people started buying them. How could Ford have such a short memory and be so shortsighted at the same time? What is so hard about producing a fuel-efficient car with sleek lines that will go more than 100,000 miles [161,000 km] without falling apart? What is so difficult about being consumer friendly? What is so difficult about offering a 100,000-mile guarantee and toll-free roadside assistance? Greed captured U.S. car companies
30 years ago, and Ford is being destroyed by it.
Joseph P. Nolan
Waterbury, Connecticut, U.S.
Counselor With A Conscience
How refreshing it was to read the interview with human-rights lawyer Gareth Peirce [Sept. 18]. Finally, someone has the courage and insight to tell it like it is. It's both astonishing and highly depressing to see the lack of popular reaction in Western democracies to the antiterrorism-globalization steamroller. Labor protections and human rights that our forefathers fought for and, in untold cases, died for are being tossed away as a result of the hype and hysteria being propagated by governments and Big Business. The media are also guilty. What we give away in moments of anguish and fright will be more than difficult to regain later. Disdaining our laws in order to protect ourselves makes us little better than the maniacs who seek to destroy our civilisation.
Of Royal Chromosomes
You owe Japan's Princess Masako an apology for reporting that she "failed in her one traditional duty: to produce a male heir" [Sept. 18], as though that were actually within her control. The only failures here are in your demeaning statement that that is her one traditional duty and in forgetting that it was her husband Prince Naruhito who determined the sex of their child, a daughter. Blame him!