It was amazing and amusing to read your engrossing cover story "The Asian Journey Home" [Aug. 18-25]. It was a cool idea to let big-league Asian writers voice their true feelings and take readers with them on the trip back home.
As a native Taiwanese, I understand how prominent Taiwanese photographer Chien-Chi Chang felt as he showed his love for his home farming village of Wuri by depicting the dramatic changes to it. Though I have been living here for 23 years and am not part of the diaspora, I can relate my own boyhood to Chang's photos of rural Taiwan. Life has improved greatly, and what surrounded me back in the old days is all long gone. Through Chang's black-and-white photos, a brief history of Taiwan is on display.
Reading the accounts of writers in "The Asian Journey Home" made me realize that, indeed, blood is a secondary factor and home is no longer a fixed location. As a Taiwanese-born citizen raised in Costa Rica and the U.S., I am quite aware that more and more Asians are becoming citizens of the world. Although Pico Iyer wrote that "home nowadays has nothing to do with a piece of soil and everything to do with something I carry around inside me," I have a different reaction. Having recently made my own Asian journey home and with three identities deeply inculcated in me, I find it hard to adapt to wherever I live—except in my own house, where I try to bring a little bit of everything together.
As your story on the bombing in Jakarta made clear [Aug. 18-25], Islamic terrorist organizations have shown once more that they have not been defeated by the global war against terrorism. Otherwise they wouldn't have been able to damage a luxury hotel in the heart of Indonesia's capital. Is it really necessary to maintain the risky fight against Islamic fundamentalists? They can appear everywhere, they can hide anywhere and they're constantly filling their ranks with new, young and motivated members. It seems senseless to react with violence. It would be much more useful to find a compromise.
Forgive and Forget?
It is high time that the world accept Libya's confession that it was responsible for the 1988 bombing of Pam Am Flight 103, which crashed over Lockerbie, Scotland [Aug. 18-25]. Libya has been isolated and sanctioned for nearly 15 years, and it has already paid enough for this atrocity. Why should innocent Libyans suffer any longer from enormous unemployment, a bad medical situation and a disastrous economy, all of which are results of the sanctions?
Schwarzenegger Muscles In
The real travesty in the California recall circus is not that Arnold Schwarzenegger, an underqualified actor with an overinflated ego, may be the state's next Governor but that the recall election is happening at all [Aug. 18-25]. Both political parties have abdicated their responsibility to come up with tough solutions to the state's budget deficit, opting instead for the political copout of recalling Gray Davis. A recall is supposed to be an emergency measure to allow voters to remove corrupt officials. In California it is being subverted to remove an unpopular Governor. I fear this precedent may cause recalls in other states and have a paralyzing effect on the ability of elected officials to govern. To borrow titles from two of Arnold's movies, California's "total recall" may soon turn into the nation's "raw deal."
Andrew J. Bingham
Californians just as we laughed at Texans over their protest at redistricting. But the underlying cause of both circuses is the same. This is about Republicans trying to seize power in a state by going outside the normal electoral process.
Go ahead and laugh at us. We deserve it. But what's happening in this country really isn't very funny.
After the 2000 Florida recount, I was worried that California's distinction as America's paragon of peculiarity was in danger of being lost to another state. Happily the Golden State is once again the country's flagship theater of the absurd.
South Pasadena, U.S.
Helpful Iraqis Under Fire
Your report "Kill or be Killed," about attacks on Iraqis who have been assisting U.S. troops [Aug. 18-25], quintessentially depicted the American policy toward the Iraqi people. You noted that Iraqi Fayek Kudayar Abbas was paid $40 a week as a translator. But since anyone working with Americans is in grave danger, it is paramount for the Americans to guarantee Abbas' personal protection. For Americans, Iraqis seem to be the equivalent of paper napkins: cheap to buy, quickly used and disposed of. And there is no shortage of supply. About 25 million desperate people have to find a way each day to get by until the next.
It's not a solution to bomb a country down to the ground for questionable reasons and then totally lose control of everything. Iraq is not the only evidence of the U.S.'s flawed foreign policy. Think of Afghanistan. Has anything improved there since troops landed almost two years ago? No. Corruption is still proliferating, the Taliban are lining up again, and the country is still among the poorest in the world. I'm sure we'll see the same results in Iraq.
Divided on "Divide"
Your article "India's Great Divide," [Aug. 11] was only half true. Many Hindus in India feel that they are the ones who are being pushed to the breaking point by acts of terrorism perpetrated by Muslims and encouraged by our neighbor Pakistan. Indian Muslims need leaders who will make them think like Indians first and Muslims second, not the other way round.
How many more Americans will die in Iraq [July 14] before we cave in and exit the country in shame? Let's send in enough troops with the right expertise to get the job finished.
I am sick of calls for the coalition forces to leave Iraq. The violence being perpetrated there is committed by gangs, some motivated by politics, others by criminal instincts; some are supporters of Saddam Hussein, others his most ardent opponents. Imagine if the U.S. and its allies did withdraw: the slaughter that would follow would be devastating. The coalition forces are performing a function vitally needed by the Iraqi people and welcomed by most of them. The troops are acting under incredibly difficult circumstances. They are all that stands between Iraq and total chaos.
Tzaneen, South Africa
The Married Estate
The sentencing of exiled former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and her husband, Asif Ali Zardari, for money laundering [MILESTONES, Aug. 18-25] was the latest turn of events for the controversial couple, who have long faced accusations of financial misconduct. TIME reported the couple's unlikely engagement when it was announced 16 years ago [WORLD, Aug. 10, 1987]:
"She is the daughter of the late Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, once the Prime Minister of Pakistan ... Last week the articulate Benazir Bhutto, 34, a graduate of Harvard and Oxford, astonished friends and foes alike by announcing that she had agreed to an arranged marriage to a wealthy Pakistani businessman whom she had met only twice before. The prospective bridegroom is Asif Ali Zardari, 34, a handlebar-mustached building contractor and polo player ... The Zardari family reportedly broached the subject of marriage to Benazir's mother and aunt last year. Benazir and Asif subsequently met at a dinner party, but they did not get together again until two weeks ago, in London. Five days later the marriage plans were announced. (Bhutto explained that her decision had been based on 'religious obligation and family duty,' as well as political considerations.) ... After meeting Zardari, she decided that he was 'nice and had a sense of humor and seemed to be a tolerant person [who] could handle having a wife who had an independent career of her own.'"