Correspondence

From the Executive Editor

John McCain insists that he hates war -- but, as Matthew Yglesias reports in this month's cover story, the evidence is all to the contrary. Since the mid-1990s, the Arizona Republican has championed the use of force in the Balkans and the Middle East, criticizing those actions we've undertaken (in Kosovo and Iraq) for not employing more forces. He's called for first-strike military action to deal with Iran, Syria, and North Korea. And he's long argued that war offers America an opportunity to realize its highest moral potential -- a dangerous romanticism anywhere, but most especially in the Oval Office.

Elsewhere, we commence our series "Fixing the Economy," funded by the AFL-CIO, which looks at long-term causes and posits long-term cures for our floundering economy. Damon Silvers provides an overview of three decades of bad policy that allowed incomes to stagnate and fostered high levels of credit and debt to keep the economy going. Kevin Phillips analyzes how finance and debt-collection supplanted manufacturing as our leading enterprise. (The Prospect's editors don't share Phillips' skepticism toward a new New Deal, but we do think his analysis of how Wall Street remade the economy is groundbreaking -- and essential reading.) Columnist Tom Geoghegan proposes cracking down on high-interest loans. And Bob Kuttner details how we can boost Americans' incomes and care by professionalizing child care and senior care. An America that actually pays people to provide care -- one of the radical notions in this month's Prospect. --Harold Meyerson

Attitude Adjustment

In "The Obama Doctrine" [April 2008], Spencer Ackerman attempts to define Barack Obama's broad strategic thinking on U.S. national security. Opponents of the Iraq War and the Bush administration's boorish imperialism have pinned a lot of hopes on Obama, but his promise is more attitudinal than doctrinal. Obama's slogan about "ending the politics of fear" is both inspiring and important. The scrawny scribblers who urge other people's children to go fight and die for their ideology influence because they terrorize. If our paralyzing fear of terrorism is eroded, let alone ended, it would be all to the good.

The business about "dignity promotion" is another matter entirely. Obama's advisers mistakenly believe that terrorism stems from a lack of "dignity," which threatens to influence poor policy choices. Most terrorists came to hate us because we seek to dominate their part of the world -- something we should stop. Recognition of this reality is required to craft policy responses that will stop making the terrorism problem worse.

It's all a bit silly, really: "We're from the U.S. government, and we're here to help you with your dignity." If Barack Obama thinks he can successfully sell that message to the world in January 2009, he's truly audacious.

Justin Logan

Associate Director, Foreign Policy Studies

Cato Institute

Washington, D.C.

A Vote for Choice

Your article in the April issue on Republican dirty tricks ["The Republican War on Voting"] to harass and fight increased voter registration would be more significant if you did not have an editorial condemning Ralph Nader's candidacy for president ["The Bad Old Days"]. You do not advocate keeping Nader off the ballot, but you do claim he cost the Democrats one election and could do it again.

The presumption that, if alternatives are not on the ballot, all must vote for one of the big parties is false. I often vote third-party, and I will not automatically choose the big two. I hate having to vote for two war parties. Third parties offer ideas we don't get from the big two. We need their input.

Harry Major

Los Angeles, CA

Class Sturggles The Mississippi experience of African Americans leading the defense of immigrants' rights as the core defense of workers' rights belies all other pundits' commentary on a supposed (or hoped for) black-brown divide in the country.

I personally witnessed the story unfolded by David Bacon ["Black and Brown Together," March 2008] when I attended the 2007 annual conference of the Mississippi Alliance for Immigrants' Rights.

Bacon examines a created controversy and pitches the story from the perspective of hope and racial harmony because he parts from the real kernel of undeniable truth -- that black and brown workers comprise the same social class, and in this particular setting in the state of Mississippi, they inhabit the poorest state of the union.

No one has a longer or more sordid history of second-class citizen status than do African Americans in the United States. As Jean Damu pointed out in the article, "drawing a parallel between the situations of blacks and immigrants has its limits," but he also establishes that "the similarities are powerful enough to convince many African Americans that it is in their best self-interest to support those who struggle against black people's historic enemies."

Nativo Lopez

President, Mexican American Political Association

Los Angeles, CA

Letters to the editor should be sent to letters@prospect.org or mailed to The Editors, The American Prospect, 2000 L St., NW, Suite 717, Washington, D.C. 20036.

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