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As far as I am concerned, president Chávez owes an apology to the devil.
Hanover, New Hampshire, U.S.
I find it ironic that the U.S. has made such a fuss over Chávez's remarks. At last, Americans have experienced what other countries feel when Bush spouts off. The big difference? Venezuela hasn't attacked anyone.
Lorne G. Sykes
In discussing Chavez's praise of Noam Chomsky's book Hegemony or Survival at the U.N., Time stated that "only loyal fans still read" Chomsky's work. That is light-years from the truth. Chomsky's numerous books are featured on university reading lists around the globe. I include his work to encourage students to consider alternative interpretations of how power is used and how it is reported by the media. Even if one disputes Chomsky's analyses, few people dispute the quality of his writing, the coherence of his arguments or the depth of his research. Love him or loathe him, Chomsky and others who challenge the world's loudest voices play a vital role in maintaining pluralism, a fundamental feature of democracy.
Gary J. Merrill, Lecturer
Cardiff School of Journalism
Media and Cultural Studies
A War for Darfur?
Columnist Peter Beinart argued that military action may be the necessary solution to the horrendous situation in Darfur [Oct. 2]. He failed to mention the role that Muslim countries and leaders could play in pressuring Sudan to open up Darfur to U.N. peacekeeping troops. It is deeply disconcerting that the Muslim community and its leaders demonstrate an amazing capacity to orchestrate vocal opposition when they sense a slight to Islam yet fail dismally to channel equal energy into resolving the conflicts in Sudan and by extension in countries like Iraq. In brief: perhaps they need to focus less attention on the infidelity of the West and more on self-criticism and addressing the problems within Muslim-majority nations.
Govert P. Arends
No, not another invasion! What is needed to save Darfur is a demonstration of political will. The World Food Program and unicef have not fulfilled their aid pledges to Sudan, and the African Union forces lack funding and equipment. It is the European Union and its members that should offer the African Union all necessary support for a larger force. Political will right now from the E.U. would change the entire situation, making it easier to bring Russia, China and some Muslim countries on board. Surely the E.U. can agree at least about Darfur. The citizens of its member states do.
Thailand's Military Takeover
The past five years under the democratically elected government of Thaksin Shinawatra were a nightmare [Oct. 2]. He was a tyrant in disguise. He bought votes to pave his way to power. He and his Cabinet members destroyed the system's checks and balances, abused state power, blocked access to information and violently suppressed peaceful protests. Can you still call that democracy? We want democracy in practice as well as in form. Thaksin's manipulation so deeply divided Thailand that the coup can be regarded as a coup de grâce, not a coup d'état. The military did not tear up our constitution and harm our democracy, since we had already materially lost them during the past five years under Thaksin's regime.
In an immature democracy, an ultra-rich and clever person could manipulate elections by buying votes from poor people, then take advantage of loopholes in the constitution; and with complicated, time-consuming government procedures helping him, he could stay in power. He could use his position to fill senior government posts in the civil service, law enforcement and the military with his followers. That is what I believe happened in Thailand before the coup, the hijacking of our government in a very slick and seemingly lawful way.
Maung Maung Myint
Bridget Welsh's viewpoint, "Damage assessment," was the best analysis I have read on this coup. But it did not allow for a scenario of the return of a working democracy by October 2007 if the military sticks to its promises. Maybe the latest military coup should be viewed as the strong medicine Thailand needs to make it work for a better tomorrow. The military takeover should serve as a strong warning to future rulers to respect the letter and the spirit of Thailand's constitution. The current coup leaders should take a lesson from the events of 1992, when the leaders tried to hang on to the power they had grabbed and were eventually forced to leave in disgrace. Going outside the system to save the system may be somewhat unpalatable to most lovers of democracy, but in the long run it could do more to perpetuate Thailand's democracy.