U.S. Army private Jessica lynch is a brave young woman but certainly no hero [Nov. 17]. In wartime, heroes do something extra to save or protect their fellow soldiers or inflict great losses on the enemy without thought for themselves. They attack the enemy vigorously with all means available, carrying out the mission assigned to them. Lynch was wounded grievously but exhibited none of the traits of a hero. I respect her will to survive, but she will not be in my book of heroes.
Commander Victor Wood
U.S. Navy (ret.)
Indian Rocks Beach, U.S.
Lynch exemplifies the true grit of U.S. soldiers who hang tough and never give up hope. She is a symbol of all of us in the service who come from small towns scattered across America. Lynch became a hero when she enlisted in the Army. That takes guts, period. You don't have to be a gunslinging Rambo to be a hero. A hero is made when someone steps forward, regardless of safety and comfort, and accepts responsibility for the freedom of a nation. As a soldier, I'm grateful that Lynch is being recognized. Thanks to her, the extraordinary struggles of ordinary soldiers will never be forgotten by America.
Sgt. Kirk B. Winters, U.S. Army
Instead of being raised to hero status, Lynch should have been court-martialed. By her own admission, she threw down her weapon and just prayed. This is cowardice in the face of the enemy. I am a Vietnam veteran, and I can assure you that the only heroes in the Jessica Lynch story are the troops who rescued her.
Maybe you could spare a few pages for the heroic soldiers and Marines who make sure their weapons are usable (a task any soldier can do quickly after two weeks of basic training) and fire back at the enemy, not lower their heads and close their eyes while their fellow soldiers get shot and killed. If Lynch were male, she would be called a coward. There have been countless acts of real heroism in Iraq by soldiers who have put their lives on the line to save others. The media should be reporting those stories, not trying to manufacture a female war hero.
Kirk J. Macolini
This young woman is a hero simply for joining the military and serving her country, which is a lot more than can be said for many people. She did not ask for what happened to her or for the public response to her rescue. Lynch will have the scars of a hero for the rest of her life. Americans should be proud of all the soldiers like her.
Lynch is right not to call herself a hero. She was wounded, captured and spent days in an Iraqi hospital. Admittedly that cannot have been a pleasant experience, but surely there are other soldiers in Iraq who have done things above and beyond the call of duty and are more deserving of praise than Lynch.
Herzlia Bet, Israel
Lynch is truly an American hero. she doesn't call herself one, and her values have not been corrupted by greed or otherwise compromised. More significant, Lynch is a hero simply because she knows who she truly is. No one can ever take that away from her.
In "The Insurgent and the Soldier," Simon Robinson noted the similarities between "Ahmed," an Iraqi guerrilla, and U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Richard Bear [Nov. 17]. But it would be misleading to believe the two have equally valid goals and beliefs. That would be like equating the American liberators of concentration camps with the Nazi murderers who created them. Ahmed was a commando in the Fedayeen Saddam militia before the war. There can be no true similarity between a supporter of Saddam Hussein and a soldier in the U.S. Army. Maybe Robinson should put down his pen, stop hiding behind his press pass and pick up an M-16. Then we'll see how much he thinks Ahmed and Bear have in common.
New York City
Ahmed, the Iraqi resistance fighter, claimed that all he wants is for Americans to leave his country. If this is really true, all he needs to do is lay down his arms. The Americans will then set up a government that is representative of the Iraqi people and hightail it out of there.
Ellicott City, U.S.
Sri Lanka's Crisis
In your story on Sri Lanka's political situation [Nov. 17], you stated that President Chandrika Kumaratunga "declared a state of emergency, then declined to sign the order two days later." This is completely false. For a state of emergency to be declared, the President of Sri Lanka has to sign a proclamation, which has to be gazetted together with the emergency regulations. As this was not the case on this occasion, a state of emergency was never promulgated. You stated that the President "ordered a nationwide deployment of the army, which subsequently denied receiving any such command." If the army has denied any nationwide deployment, to whom did the President order it? At no point was a nationwide deployment of the army ordered. You stated that after President Kumaratunga's spokesman said the cease-fire with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) "will stand," the President "declared the cessation 'invalid.'" What you did not mention is that (as the President explained to your correspondent) any agreement signed with regard to the defense of the nation, including the present cease-fire, has to be signed by the head of state. As the cease-fire has been signed only by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and the head of the LTTE, it is invalid under Sri Lanka's constitution. The President said she decided to stand by it because of her commitment to peace and decided to let the negotiations begin and continue. You spoke of "the unexpected scale of [the Prime Minister's] reception" on his return to the country from an overseas trip. Impartiality would demand that you also mention the Oct. 24 mass rally, attended by about 500,000 people in support of the President's party, which took place only two weeks before the event you chose to describe.
Office of the President
Editor's Note: Our interview with President Kumaratunga, which took place after our deadlines, can be read online at www.timeasia.com.
America the Unloved
Charles Krauthammer's essay on the lack of sympathy for the U.S. is a fine example of the insular thinking, overblown self-image and moral superiority that so many of my fellow Americans (especially those who do not travel) have exhibited since 9/11 [Nov. 17]. You don't become a global superpower with the most lethal military machinery in the galaxy without making enemies—mortal enemies. The sky has been falling on Europe, Africa and Asia for centuries with terrible results, so don't expect a hungry, war-torn and weary world to weep too long or too hard when disaster strikes the U.S. But now, with a full-scale military occupation of an Arab-Islamic nation under way, a large part of the globe is suspicious of the U.S.'s motives and angry at blatant disregard for international law. Pro-U.S. sentiment overseas is going to be scarcer than ice water in hell.
Krauthammer believes that the U.S. should not care that Europeans disagree with its foreign policy. He says such a reaction is the result of envy. What is it others are supposed to be envious of? I live in Norway, and most of the Americans I know would rather stay here than return to the U.S. Safety, freedom, a clean environment, high standards of living: these are among the most important issues to Europeans, and we have had hundreds of years of experience in learning how they can be achieved. What can the U.S. offer Europe that it does not already have?
What the world at large really dislikes about the U.S. is the same thing we would find distasteful in any overbearing, well-to-do relative: incurable arrogance. Who couldn't help gritting his teeth at a self-described superpower that treats the majority of its neighbors like poor second cousins who should be grateful for whatever they receive? For just one day, the U.S. was knocked from its pedestal, and this engendered an outpouring of genuine empathy, not sympathy, from around the world—not because, as Krauthammer suggested, we reveled in the fact the mighty had at last fallen but because we realized we are the same, and we are all just people. We had simply hoped the U.S. would realize it, too.
Helga Lynn Pearson
Durban, South Africa
I don't live in the U.S., and I had enormous sympathy for it after the vile acts of 9/11. I still do. But an almost unilateral, pre-emptive strike on Iraq in defiance of the U.N. (with no conclusive link between Iraq and al-Qaeda) and the subsequent Vietnamization of the war on terrorism are hard to swallow.
Howard Dean's Style
In "Hectoring is Not Leadership," Joe Klein argues that Democratic candidate Howard Dean has not produced "very much creative policy thinking" and that his presidential campaign is all "about process, not ideas" [Nov. 17]. But the way a campaign is conducted contributes to a candidate's ideas and policies should he become President. A candidate supported by small contributions from millions of people has the power to take back the government from special interests. No other Democrat has demonstrated Dean's ability to inspire or innovate.
David A. Babbott
Klein says Dean is "not very well spoken." George W. Bush proved it does not take exceptional speaking skills to become President of the U.S. Clearly all it takes is a substantial amount of money.
New York City
If ever there were a time to be outraged, this is it! Klein can say that Dean needs to "stop hectoring and lay out a vision" of understanding for the nation, but I find it refreshing that a Democrat has come forward with forceful objections to the unprecedented abuse of power resulting from Bush's policies of the past three years.
Come a Long Way, Baby?
Re "Bod for a Burqa?," your people item on Afghan-born beauty contestant Vida Samadzai [Nov. 10]: The Afghan Supreme Court's condemnation of Samadzai is outrageous. But just how far has she come when she has traded her burqa for a bikini in the male fantasyland of a Miss Earth pageant?
Your article "How to Eat Smarter" began with an account of a busy parent trying to get a quick but healthy meal to the table [Nov. 3]. Then you told us everything that was wrong with it. Where was the list of fast, healthy and child-friendly dishes that we can throw on the table after the bruising day at the office and the hair-raising commute?
As a registered dietitian, I was happy to see an article about nutrition that gave sound advice. However, I have two messages for our food industry: 1) many of the foods that the population should be eating—fruits, vegetables, fish, whole grains—are prohibitively expensive for the working class and the poor, and 2) too much money is spent on developing and marketing inexpensive, empty-calorie foods with no nutritional value. Food manufacturers would do well to put fewer choices on our grocery-store shelves; then perhaps people would slim down and be healthier.
At Home Abroad
The chilly public reception for President George W. Bush on his state visit to Britain [LETTER FROM LONDON, Nov. 17] was at odds with the welcome that President Ronald Reagan experienced 21 years ago on a similar diplomatic trip to London and other European capitals. After visiting Rome, Reagan and his wife, Nancy, spent two nights at Windsor Castle, outside London, as guests of Queen Elizabeth II. The larger purpose of his journey was to reassure Europeans that the U.S. remained committed to nato and genuinely sought peace and arms reduction with the Soviet Union. Although Reagan was confronted in West Berlin by several thousand hostile demonstrators, the overall reaction to his visit was positive, as we described in a June 21, 1982, report:
"In 10,659 miles of travel through five nations in ten days, and meetings with a Pope, a Queen and heads of government of the 15 other NATO countries, the President discovered that 'America has a lot of friends.' Reagan noted that he had told West Germans, and by extension all of America's allies: 'We are with you. You are not alone.' He added: 'I come home with a message from our allies. We are not alone. They are with us.'"
Beautiful Voice, Good Legs
The 25-year career of Italian tenor Franco Corelli, who died in October, took him from La Scala in Milan to the Metropolitan Opera in New York City, where he performed on 368 occasions [MILESTONES, Nov. 10]. In an April 6, 1962, profile we traced his climb to opera's heights:
"Corelli, 37, has risen so rapidly that in Italy he is nicknamed 'the Sputnik Tenor.' One reason is that he has a classically handsome head set on a 6-ft. 2-in., 185-lb. frame (his other Italian nickname is 'Golden Calves'); another is that he can sing superbly ... Trained as a naval engineer, Corelli did not start studying singing until he was 24 and learned most of what he knows by listening to recordings of famous singers. His professional career was begun 'by pure good luck' when he got the chance to sing opposite Maria Callas in Spontini's La Vestale on a La Scala opening night. For a while Corelli's extracurricular antics—he punched a spectator he thought had insulted him, stabbed basso Boris Christoff with a stage sword—drew attention away from his sizable gifts as a singer ... In Italy bobby-soxers periodically mob him at the stage door, and there is every evidence that he may do for tenors what Ezio Pinza did for bassos. Says he: 'I attract mostly young, very beautiful girls.'"