Re "Too much of a good thing" [Oct. 30]: Soon the whole inflated and severely overheated Bordeaux market will burst like a soap bubble. Is there any human being who can truly appreciate the difference between an exorbitantly expensive bottle of Bordeaux and an excellent, modestly priced wine from California or Australia? Can one be 20 times happier with a glass of Bordeaux than with a glass of American Cabernet Sauvignon? Only very few wine experts could discern the country of origin, and none of them could taste the prices. The wines of Bordeaux will fall in value when consumers' tastes turn toward the much cheaper wines of the New World. Let the free market play its role.
One can spend up to €500 on a bottle of what I'm sure would be a very fine vintage of Château Lafite-Rothschild, but I won't. I'll stick with wines from the New World, where the right conditions produce fantastic vintages at much lower prices. The current wine market must surely bring sleepless nights to those who can't produce a good wine in the first place. Who knows what next year holds? Maybe those who didn't harvest this year will be kicking themselves should disaster strike their vines. I'll be stockpiling my own supply of the wines I fancy now to enjoy for years to come.
It's too bad none of those overproductive vintners realize that there is also a market for that delicious fruit beverage called grape juice.
Re "5 ways to prevent Iraq from getting even worse" [Oct. 30]: Your recommendations contained one major flaw. They would be implemented by an Administration that has proved its total incompetence. The U.S. is part of the problem, not the solution. Only an approach that transfers all decision making to non-Americans has any hope of success. Ideally, that would mean Iraqis, but the current situation is so chaotic that external assistance is a necessity. President George W. Bush and his cronies have messed up so badly that the only reasonable first step is a U.S. mea culpa on Iraq.
Sudbury, Massachusetts, U.S.
The Iraq war is a catch-22 of sorts. The U.S. will not negotiate with nuke-craving and terrorist-harboring states like Iran and Syria for obvious reasons. But if Iran and Syria get involved, the war will soon be history, because both countries have the wherewithal to rein in the Iraqi militias in a matter of months. Bush would do well to hold limited talks with both countries or, better still, allow Britain and France to do so. With the Iraqi albatross hanging around his neck, Bush cannot properly deal with Iran, Syria or North Korea.
Stephen O. Obajaja
Cheney Gives No Ground
I was chilled and appalled by vice President Dick Cheney's glib answers to Time's interview questions [Oct. 30]. His comments related to the debacle in Iraq "We're not looking for an exit strategy. We're looking for victory" reflected the stubborn disconnect from reality that has characterized the Bush Administration's prosecution of the war. How much longer will Americans allow our leaders to repeat the tired and disingenuous rhetoric that ignores the depressing reality in Iraq?
Santa Rosa, California, U.S.
The Big Idea of Small Loans
Never has there been a more timely recognition of the quiet revolution started by microcredit pioneer Muhammad Yunus than the awarding of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize [Oct. 23]. Yunus' achievement is a shining example of how social and religious prejudices can be sensitively overcome within a community and without the confrontation, sensationalism and politicization that seem to have become the hallmarks for handling issues today. For doing this and for subverting long-held economic principles, Yunus deserved both the Peace and the Economics prizes.
I was touched and very happy to read about Yunus' microcredit story. In a time of such bleakness and pessimism, the possibility that by 2030 the only trace of poverty could be in a museum was absolutely wonderful news. Imagining a very near future in which the word poverty requires the use of the past tense is enough to make everyone optimistic.
Nuclear North Korea
President Bush's nightmare became a reality when North Korean leader Kim Jong Il joined the exclusive nuclear club [Oct. 30]. Bush's threatening rhetoric only accelerated the country's nuclear research and has opened the door for the spread of nuclear arms to other countries. Imposing economic sanctions on Kim's dictatorial regime would do even more damage. History has proved that such economic sanctions would bring more suffering to the broad population of the country, while the ruthless tyrant, his army generals and his close Communist Party buddies would enjoy the horn of plenty as usual. It is time for the Bush Administration to eat humble pie after this failure and use diplomacy rather than threatening language.
Syed Rashid Ali Shah
Vroomshoop, the Netherlands
If after the 9/11 attacks the U.S. had persevered in flushing the Taliban out of power in Afghanistan rather than starting a war in Iraq, there would have been more international resolve to stop the likes of North Korea from developing a nuclear bomb. But now the Muslim world believes the West has declared war on Islam, and rogue nations have learned that the possession of nuclear bombs can serve as a deterrent to the U.S. The world is a divided and unsafe place. At least during the cold war we had two superpowers in opposition whose fear of each other made peace for everyone, but today danger lurks everywhere, especially in buses and on the subway.