It's absurd to think George W. Bush single-handedly created divisiveness in the U.S. [Dec. 1]. He became President of a nation already divided by numerous issues—abortion, the death penalty, affirmative action, family values, marriage, national security, welfare, the environment, taxes and so forth. Bush naturally takes a position on each issue, just as every other citizen does. He cannot conceivably support all sides.
Palm Coast, U.S.
Your article clearly communicated the frustration felt by many of us on both sides of the divide. Bush has made sweeping foreign- and domestic-policy changes, creating a lot of chaos. Even those who support him have no idea where he is leading the country. That he doesn't alter his course in response to poll results means two things: he's sure he's right (which is scary enough), and he doesn't care about the opinions of those he serves. These attitudes add up to a god complex, and that's dangerous.
Hate and love are the wrong words to describe how Americans feel about the President. I am not emotional about the man Bush. It is the Bush Administration and its unilateralism that scare me. How can the U.S. pretend to promote democracy in the world when it is such a poor team player in the U.N., the only global democratic body we have?
Barbara M. Tull
Bush's political style may appeal to those who are not comfortable with ambiguity, but it produces bitter partisanship instead of solutions to problems. Compromise and accommodation make democracy work, but Bush does not seem to know how to govern in a democracy.
President Bush isn't wishy-washy; he's strong and not afraid to make a decision. The American people should stand behind him. I truly believe that history will vindicate him.
I don't really hate bush—hate is such a strong emotion. I will admit to feeling dislike, disgust and disdain. In all my 73 years, I have never had so little respect for a President. It's too bad, because I'm an easygoing, patriotic, friendly sort of guy, and to be so turned off by someone is against my nature. But that's how I feel about Bush, and judging from your story, there must be millions more like me.
Thousand Oaks, U.S.
>> The cover photomontage of Bush sporting a lipstick kiss mark and a black eye definitely got a rise out of readers. "When I saw how you defaced the President's picture, it felt like a slap in the face," wrote a reader from Colorado. That feeling was echoed by many, like the Georgian who declared, "Whether you like him or not, he's our President, and we're at war! Our enemies are probably plastering this picture all over their walls." A Missouri man compared the cover to "graffiti sprayed by an ignorant adolescent." But another Coloradan caught the cover's playful spirit: "When I first saw it, I thought it was Alfred E. Neuman on Mad magazine!"
Terrorism at Europe's Doorstep
I was appalled by the terrorist attacks in Istanbul [Dec. 1]. What made them even more dismaying was that when they occurred, Bush and British Prime Minister Tony Blair were trying to justify their countries' unprovoked attack on Iraq. There is no doubt that terrorist activity has escalated since the invasion of Iraq, but these two world leaders will not admit that their acts have been the reason for it. Iraq was not a threat to the U.S. or Britain, yet here are two leaders still trying to excuse their mistakes in the hopes that someone, sometime, will believe them. It is about time the court in the Hague got involved.
Castelnau Montratier, France
We are determined to stand just where we are, where Turkey is, at a wonderful intersection of East and West. No bomb is powerful enough to damage Turkey's strength as a nation or shake its belief in both secularity and Islam. May God replace hatred with love in pitiful hearts.
Nimet A. Kocak
Istanbul India's Corruption Question In your story "teflon government" [Dec. 1], you list a supposed series of corruption scandals involving the Indian government—"the Judeo tape," "the costly coffins case," "the Tehelka scandal"—and attribute the list to "TIME Research." But it is more than apparent that you have only talked to vested political interests and the perpetrators of fraudulent sting journalism. Fluffing up political allegations and gossip does not make for journalism of international standards. In the case of the Judeo tape, accepting a donation for political work or campaigns is not against the law. No quid pro quo has yet been established. No one has the right to presume guilt till the facts are known. Regarding the reusable caskets, these are specialized items used by the U.N. in Ethiopia and supplied to the U.S. army, as well. No one has claimed that these "coffins" were once supplied for $172 each but, in 1999, were bought for $2,500 each. There is also no reason to imply that the Defense Minister should resign. Why should any false allegation force him to quit? As a victim of Tehelka.com's stage-managed sting operation, I strongly object to your saying that I was recorded taking bribes. Everyone who knows me knows I would rather die than ever take a bribe. If you see the tapes carefully and listen to the dialogue, the "bribe" is only in the minds of those concocting a scenario of corruption. I also object to your describing me as a "friend" of the Defense Minister. As a senior woman in public life, this casual epithet is insulting and denigrating. I have been the president of an important political party and been known as a political and social activist for 20 years. Smearing people so casually and presuming persons to be guilty until proven innocent are the ugly faces of today's "new" journalism. Must TIME also resort to it?
You say that in 1999 the defense Ministry ordered 500 aluminum coffins for victims of the Kashmir conflict from an American company for $1.25 million ($2,500 each). The report mentions that, previously, coffins cost the ministry $172 apiece. The Ministry of Defense has never bought "coffins" at $172 apiece. The need was felt for aluminum caskets by the Indian army for some years, but the urgency arose during the Kargil conflict in 1999 when the government decided for the first time to send the mortal remains of the soldiers who died in the battlefield to their families for last rites. Till then, the bodies were cremated or buried near the place of death. The Ministry of Defense gave the army clearance to purchase the caskets from a U.S. company at a cost of $2,500 for each casket. That this is the prevailing price for such caskets has been confirmed by U.S. defense authorities and the Indian ambassador to the U.S. A vague recollection by an officer that the U.N. was able to procure such caskets at a price of $172 has been flogged repeatedly without any concern for the truth. Only 150 caskets were ordered in the first lot. Also, the caskets supplied by the U.S. company are not according to specifications, and the supplier has been told to take them back. Nowhere in the whole deal did Defense Minister George Fernandes have any role. However, when this issue became a political controversy and was raised in the Indian parliament, the factual information was provided and published in the media in India.
I. Ramamohan Rao Information Consultant Government of India Ministry of Defense
New Delhi Supporting Task Force 88
I was quoted out of context in your article "Police Academy 1" [Nov. 24]. I was not asked by your correspondent to comment on the U.S. government's antiterrorist training provided to the Indonesian police unit Task Force 88. Rather, I was commenting on human-rights issues related to the police's Mobile Brigade. The placement of my quote, however, gives the impression that I was criticizing the training for Task Force 88, which is not the case. The Asia Foundation supports U.S. government-funded police training and reform programs in Indonesia.
Santiago Villaveces The Asia Foundation
Shades of Stalin?
The detention of Mikhail Khodorkovsky, former chief executive of the Russian oil company Yukos, on charges of embezzlement, theft and tax evasion has alarmed the international community [Nov. 10]. The shadow of Stalinist repression is getting longer, but this time it is being cast by Russian President Vladimir Putin. How will Russian economic growth be affected by the arrest of the oligarch who was working to open links with the West? So far, nothing has happened, because investors still think Russia is a good place to put their money. But time will tell if Khodorkovsky's arrest will herald a return to the Kremlin's old methods of control.
Bruno Canal Pulido
Band of Brothers
In the beginning, Michael Jackson [NEWS, Dec. 1] hit the music scene as part of a family group that Motown star Diana Ross helped bring into the limelight. Our first story on the Jacksons noted the achievements the brothers racked up in only a few months [June 14, 1971]:
"Jackie is 20, Tito 17, Jermaine 16, Marlon 14. They sing some, and play guitar. Michael, the lead singer, is twelve. They are brothers, and taken together they add up to the Jackson Five, a group that in hardly more than a year has become the biggest thing to hit Pop Capitalism since the advent of the Beatles. They had four hit singles in 1970, two more already this year, four albums, with all 10 releases selling in the millions, and one (I'll Be There) already well over 4,000,000 ... They have their own magazine, a quarterly in which fans can revel in a whole issue devoted entirely to the Jackson Five and read things like 'Michael's Love Letter to You.' STORES NOW BULGE WITH JACKSON FIVE DECALS, STICKERS AND SWEATERS. A JACKSON FIVE HAIR SPRAY AND A JACKSON FIVE WATCH ARE PLANNED ... Despite this commercial hoopla, the group manages to be one of the best soul bands in the country. It is also part of the most likable and natural family ever to survive the pressures of teenage stardom."
Setting the Record Straight
The short article "But in the Book ..." that accompanied our story on the film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World [Nov. 24] compared the movie with the novels on which it was based and stated that "the novel is set in the War of 1812." The movie, however, combines two books, the first in the series, Master and Commander, which begins in 1800, and the 10th, The Far Side of the World, set during the War of 1812.