Re your report on the economic malaise and harsh politics of Southeast Asian countries [July 7]: the economies of the five core countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations will continue to falter, owing to the ever-present threat of terrorism. These countries should face Islamic militants squarely and decisively. Only by fighting terrorism and adopting viable economic programs will the troubled ASEAN members emerge from their predicament.
Makati City, the Philippines
In "The Lion in Winter," you reported on the fading economic prospects of Singapore [July 7]. To rebuild our society and bring back the vibrancy of the economy, the citizens must have a shared vision. Singapore is changing from a paternalistic state into a self-help state. The war on terrorism and the SARS epidemic helped bring our multicultural society together. We found courage. Now there is more emphasis on emotional intelligence and creativity. The concepts of entrepreneurship, meritocracy and pragmatism are changing society. As Singapore celebrates 38 years of nationhood, we are moving beyond youthful exuberance to young adulthood.
Pattamuckil John Johney
The Economy Before Liberty
Political commentator Baopu Liu's viewpoint on China's President, Hu Jintao [July 7], noted that the Communist Party vowed to quadruple China's per-capita income by 2020 but made no promises about advancing democracy or civil rights. The Chinese have learned some lessons from the former Soviet Union. In the 1980s Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, encouraged by Western assurances, pursued glasnost (openness) before perestroika (restructuring) and saw the Soviet Union split apart in 1991. Like the U.S.S.R., China consists of many cultures and ethnic groups. Chinese leaders have decided, very wisely, to pursue their policies in the right sequence. They will safeguard their territorial integrity by building a strong economy and sharing prosperity among all Chinese over the next two decades. Other issues will have to wait.
Trouble in Bihar
In the article "State of Fear" [June 30], you described the dire situation in the Indian state of Bihar. Thank you for shedding light on poverty and crime. The sordid fact that kidnapping for ransom is Bihar's biggest industry is a blemish on India. You reported that "even politicians may be cashing in." Although some local politicians may run kidnap syndicates, as one assembly member charged, the sorry state of affairs in Bihar is not solely the work of a few politicians; it is the result of the apathy of the Bihari people. They must rise above the artifice and verbosity showered upon them at election rallies, one term after the other, and elect responsible representatives.
No Nuclear Sharing
The accusation in your article "Arsenal of the Axis" [July 14] that Pakistan purchased missiles from North Korea while providing uranium-enrichment technology in exchange is totally incorrect. Pakistan has addressed concerns stemming from such misleading reports to the complete satisfaction of its friends and allies. By repeating such fictional and outdated stories, a magazine of Time's stature does no credit to itself. Pakistan is a responsible state and its nuclear-weapons program is purely defensive in nature. It has a well-established control-and-command system that effectively ensures such technology is not shared with any other state.
Consulate General of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan
The appalling image of a young Iraqi boy lying on the floor while being handcuffed by an American soldier [July 7] only reiterated the horrors of this unjustified war. What right did the soldier have to be in that child's home or, for that matter, in his country? By engaging in the "liberation" of Iraq without caring about world opinion, the U.S. has become extremely vulnerable to all kinds of assaults by fundamentalists. If there is another attack like 9/11, the U.S. had better look to another world for sympathy, because it might not get any from this one.
The Elusive WMD
Why is everyone so quick to assume that Iraq's weapons of mass destruction (WMD) do not exist [July 7] simply because we have not yet found them? We have not yet located Saddam Hussein, his sons or Osama bin Laden, but I don't think their existence is the result of manipulated intelligence.
Mary Lynn Watson
St. Joseph, U.S.
George W. Bush & co. clearly fudged the truth about the threat of Iraqi WMD. The Administration's statements that the occupation would be short are also wrong. American men and women are dying in a distant land, with no end to the carnage in sight. If the President and his staff deliberately misled the American public and Congress, they should suffer the consequences.
Spring City, U.S.
Rights for Homosexuals
I am glad the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the Texas law against homosexual sodomy is unconstitutional [July 7]. I hope the court will address other laws that violate the privacy of adult citizens. There should be no law against private sexual activities. The Supreme Court was not taking sides in a cultural war as Justice Antonin Scalia claimed in his dissenting opinion. The court was doing its job of protecting the rights of every citizen in this country. Homosexuals are citizens just like Scalia, with all the attendant rights and privileges.
Carrying the Banner
Perry Bacon Jr., writing on his experiences as a racial minority [July 7], noted that the beneficiaries of affirmative-action policies are burdened by having to "contribute diversity" and speak on behalf of minorities. That's an entertaining but flawed perspective. Affirmative action means Bacon will not have to be the only representative of blacks because there will be more than a token number at school or work, thereby enabling others to appreciate a variety of views and perspectives. Affirmative action doesn't force you to be the representative of diversity; it gives you the freedom to be yourself.
Shirley J. Wilcher
Bacon's column was thought provoking and well written. Twenty years ago, I became only the second woman to be an administrator in the University of Missouri system office. Although I really didn't want to carry the banner for women, it was expected. Bacon was right: it can be a heavy burden when all you really want is to get on with the job at hand. It's a difficult balancing act to be seen as an advocate for one group without being perceived as a foe of another. I look forward to the day when race and sex are neutral descriptors and no longer carry political baggage.
Conversion Is Backward
Your cover headline asked "Should Christians Convert Muslims?" [June 30]. If this is a legitimate question, then what's the difference between a Christian missionary and a Taliban member who imposes his religion on Afghans? In the old days, conversion was simply a strategy for survival under intolerant regimes. It's a pity that conversion still exists and is even encouraged today. What makes Christianity any better than Islam, or vice versa? What makes any religion superior to any other?
A Sad State of Affairs
Your notebook item about president Bush's visit to Africa and his failure to meet with former South African President Nelson Mandela [July 7] noted that Mandela called the U.S. "a threat to world peace." That statement has depressed me more than all the other horrible things that have recently occurred. Mandela feels that he represents justice and truth and thus can say and perhaps do anything he wants. But the threat to world peace lies in the self-righteous mentality of certain people who try to sum up all of the problems in the world and focus the blame on one object. They are judging an entire people by the actions of a few. Osama bin Laden thinks he represents God, points a finger at Americans and puts all his efforts into killing people. Are we ever going to get past nationalism and hostile ignorance?
Our story on rock-music pioneer Phil Spector and the shooting death of B-movie actress Lana Clarkson [Feb. 17] said Spector had been charged with murder. Although Spector was arrested as part of a murder investigation, he was not formally charged with any crime.
Our story on Singapore's economy [July 7] said that lawyer Nicholas Woo was married to an Englishwoman and had two children. That is wrong. He is married to an Australian woman and has only one child.
A Model Consort
Our Milestone on the death of Sir Denis Thatcher [July 7], husband of former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, noted that in public he was the loyal spouse while in private he acted as a critical sounding board for his wife. We profiled him in an Aug. 14, 1989, report:
"In public life, Denis, as all Britain calls him, is discretion personified. 'So long as I keep the lowest-possible profile, neither write nor say anything, I avoid getting into trouble,' he says. This rigorously observed tenet has helped establish Denis as a model consort ... Lanky and white haired, with a toothy grin and a nasal honk of an accent, Denis has become a cherished figure for his skillful maneuvers through the minefields of public life alongside his wife, or as he would say with precision, 'a pace behind her, old chap, a pace behind her.' He is mainly visible as the gracious host while his wife conducts affairs of state. At 74, he seems eminently fit for the job: the back is still ramrod straight, the step springy, the mind clear as a bell. What keeps him in such excellent fettle? 'Cigarettes and gin,' chuckles Denis. His almost flawless public performance is all the more admirable for hiding his true nature: short-fused, outspoken, archconservative ... When he is not busy escorting his wife, he can frequently be spied on the exclusive golf course in [the London suburb] of Dulwich ... He even launched a popular campaign against slow golfers with the argument: 'After all, the quicker you finish your round, the more time you will have for a pint.'"