No Ordinary Time
Robert Kuttner is certainly right about the obvious importance of government,
especially federal government, at this time [" HREF="/print/V12/19/kuttner-r.html">No Ordinary Time," November 5,
2001]. Unfortunately, his conclusion that the era of government bashing is over
is probably optimistic.
The expansion of government in the 1930s led to the accusation of
"boondoggling" in the Works Progress Administration and other programs. The
obvious failures of extraordinarily expensive "intelligence" operations to expose
the preparations for the September 11 disasters will result in the
investigations of poor coordination among agencies, bureaucratic infighting,
rigid regulations, and other political-organizational snafus.
Today's rapid, significant expansion in governmental funding and activities is
likely to produce accounts of bungling, ineffectiveness, and waste.
Public-service unions should take the lead in pushing for changes in operations
that will improve performance in new government programs. More or expanded
programs in existing formats will induce government bashing once again and impede
future federal and state action. Improving government is fundamental if we wish
to expand its activities.
The Commonwealth Institute
Bush's War Hawk
Jason Vest's well-written article ["Bush's
War Hawk," November 5] is admirably
free of ad hominem jibes, and he accurately describes the fault lines within the
Bush foreign-policy team successfully except in one crucial regard: Paul
Wolfowitz is right.
Wolfowitz is right to disparage the multilateralism that Colin Powell and
The American Prospect so passionately support. Vest's article might have
persuaded (although probably not) if he had actually offered a criticism of
"unilateralism." Vest should know that simply presenting Wolfowitz's views is
not a refutation of them.
Moreover, Wolfowitz is right to argue that the mission should determine the
coalition rather than the other way around. Otherwise, the fight against
terrorism is reduced to an exercise in group dynamics. Does Vest think that team
building is better than security?
Finally, Wolfowitz is right to warn about Iraq. Even though Vest notes that
Osama bin Ladin and Saddam Hussein are not allies--bin Ladin, in fact, opposes
Hussein for the Iraqi invasion of Saudi Arabia--Vest does not share with us any
examples of al-Qaeda-sponsored terrorism in Iraq. If he had, then maybe we'd have
cause to enlist Iraq in the war against terrorism.
Cardinal Stritch University
Irrationalist in Chief
In the process of criticizing the appointment of Leon Kass as head of Bush's
new Council on Bioethics, Chris Mooney distorts and trivializes the thought of
the not-so-"obscure" German-American philosopher Hans Jonas [" HREF="/print/V12/17/mooney-c.html">Irrationalist in
Chief," September 24-October 8]. While it used to be said that fear is the
beginning of wisdom, Mooney has evidently decided that fear is the beginning of
"demagoguery," at least if it gets in the way of "biomedical advance." Readers
may judge Jonas's philosophy of caution for themselves by consulting his volume
of essays, The Imperative of Responsibility: In Search of an Ethics for the
The Whole World Is Watching
I found the november 19 issue, "The Whole World Is
incisive and consistent with my own take on the Pandora's box that America has
opened. Eric Alterman's book review " HREF="/print/V12/20/alterman-e.html">Chronicling the Last War" provides his
perceptive comments, as usual, and Stanley Hoffmann's " HREF="/print/V12/20/hoffmann-s.html">Why Don't They Like Us?"
comprehends, and explains with eloquence and wit, how we arrived at where we
I am an American Jew who is appalled at the expansion of the West Bank
settlements and the abuses of the Israeli Defense Forces. Nevertheless, I feel
it is incumbent upon Stanley Hoffmann ["Why Don't They Like Us?"] to define
precisely what policy changes he intends when he suggests that we "drastically
reorient U.S. policy in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict," considering that Yasir
Arafat had more meetings with President Clinton than any other foreign leader.
In addition, Rashid Khalidi ["American
Anointed"] would add a great deal to
the understanding of the present situation if he could explain why the deal
offered at the Camp David summit by Ehud Barak in 2000, which included up to 97
percent of the land in the West Bank and Gaza as well as parts of Jerusalem,
wasn't acceptable, and if he could suggest a peace proposal acceptable to the
Palestinians that would also protect Israel's survival--assuming that Mr. Khalidi
believes Israel has a right to survival, which his article does not make clear.
Israel has no obligation to lie down and let itself be massacred in order to
satisfy the "opinions of Middle Eastern peoples."
I am horrified by your decision to print "American Anointed," which crosses
the line from necessary examination of the roots of anti-Americanism to apologia.
One could point to any number of pesky details Khalidi omits (the fact, for
example, that sanctions against Iraq have continued because that nation kicked
out UN weapons inspectors). But this isn't the only flaw of the piece. It wrongly
proceeds from the assumption that America's enemies are rational and that if only
the United States would adopt some humility and make better policy,
anti-Americanism would fade.
What the world needs now is a dose of religious doubt. This isn't a popular
view in America, but perhaps TAP could at least point out the unsettling
irony that the war against the Taliban is being executed by a creationist
Defending an Open Society
Your first issue following the September 11 attacks delved right into the
difficult issues America now faces ["Defending an Open
Society," October 22].
Several of your articles addressed how to preserve liberalism while maintaining
security, but it seems to me that in this particular crisis the American people
should lose some freedoms temporarily. That is the only way to fight the war
against terrorism effectively. There should be stricter controls of our borders,
more security, more restrictions; we must lose certain freedoms to defend an open
society. When things return to normal, the restrictions can be lifted. If we
don't get a handle on security now, we could lose the long-term war on terrorism.
Paul Dale Roberts
Elk Grove, CA
Regarding Paul Begala's article "Sunshine
Patriots" [November 5], Democrats
should be worried about next year's elections not because of the "new patriotism"
but because political debate has dried up. This has been the trend for many years
with the likes of Rush Limbaugh, Cal Thomas, Don Imus, Chris Matthews, Bill
O'Reilly, and Fox News, but Democrats have failed to get equal time because
everyone "knows" that the press is "liberal."
Since September 11, this imbalance has reached crisis proportions. Views that
differ from those of the right are perceived as treasonous or un-American. To
find any fault with W. or the GOP could land you in jail for threatening to
overthrow the government. To have any opinion that is not "conservatively
correct" is unpublishable.
No wonder W.'s poll ratings are high and Democrats and progressives are an
Boca Raton, FL
Thank you for paul Begala's wonderful article "Sunshine Patriots." As far as
the Republican Party's "results-oriented" style is concerned, nothing
exemplifies it better than the "selection" of George W. Bush for president.
As Mr. Begala points out, the Republican Party has left no hint of civility.
Its "winning strategy" was to tap into white America's fears and bigotry and to
win at any cost.
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