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Letters on International Issues

Thanks for publishing "An Open Letter to America from a New Zealander" in the November 2002 issue of your paper. You make it obvious that the news media has abrogated its role of presenting an unbiased view of politics that would enable the public (like me) to evaluate what our government is doing.

Kathryn E. Joy
DeSoto, Texas

Speaking the Truth
Dear Mr. Hartung,
       Your article [The Elections and the War] says it all. Thank you for speaking your mind and the truth.

Karla Woods

A Bush Psychological Problem?
If it were proven as fact that there were no kind of weapons that were to be used against us in Iraq, the Bushes would still plan to bomb them. We have ten times as many weapons, including all kinds of biochemicals. The Bushes have a psychological problem, and some Americans can't see that.

Marta Kaye
Wilmington, De.

Let's Stop Being Hypocritical
Listening to U.S. politicians going on and on about Iraq's Saddam Hussein and his "weapons of mass destruction" seems to be the height of hypocrisy. As a society, are we really that shallow and gullible?
       Here are a few examples of what I mean: Our leaders talk about controlling dangerous weapons, yet we are the world's No. 1 manufacturer of advanced munitions, which we export all over the globe.
       We lecture small nations about the importance of democracy, but historically have supported oppressive right-wing dictators who have caused the rural poor to embrace revolution as the only meaningful way of ending oppression and poverty.
       We go on about human rights in Cuba, but look the other way when a big trading partner like China has a much worse record.
       We claim to be working to clean up our own environment, but ignore what our big multinational oil companies have done to the environment in smaller, less-regulated countries like Nigeria and Ecuador.
       We say we're a Christian country, but seem to follow greedy, short-term policies that run counter to everything I remember being taught about the Christian ethic when I was in Catholic grade school.
       We want others to stop killing and bullying ethnic minorities, but built a whole country on land taken from Native Americans and powered by slaves.
       The list goes on and on. So here we are, the only country in the history of the planet to drop nuclear weapons on civilians, going on about how dangerous a small Arab country is.
       I don't doubt that Saddam is a nasty guy. I just wonder what right we have to spout off like we're perfect.

Greg James
Seattle, Wa.

No Statue for Ne Win
With no sadness, regret, weeping or sorrow, the funeral was held in a public cemetery where the body would be burned. Only 25 people were present. They were the intimate relatives. After burning the body, no one buried the ashes in front of a statue or a tomb of milestone. There was no classification. The man who ruled a country for almost 4 decades with an iron fist died quietly under house arrest.
       Who was he?
       Ne Win had become an isolated figure in recent years. Burma's former military dictator, General Ne Win, 91, died under house arrest. He died at his home in the capital, Rangoon, where he had been held alongside his daughter after the arrest of other relatives on treason charges.
       He was cremated within hours, without any military honors. No senior members of the military government attended the funeral. The new military rulers Ne Win had chosen did not pay their respects to the man that could not give any command.
       Ne Win suffered a heart attack in 2001, and had not been seen in good health for more than one year.
       In 1962, Ne Win came to power in a bloodless coup that killed more than 600 university students and threw hundreds into prison. He stayed in power until 1988 amid massive pro-democracy rallies.
       The overwhelming response in Burma is to be one of suppressed euphoria, for Ne Win is considered to be responsible for the country's economic woes.
       Although Ne Win's military leadership stopped Burma's civil war in 1948, the economic situation remained unstable. After coming to power, he presided during a significant decline in the country's prosperity.
       His longevity—both mind and body in politics—depended on numerology. He was reported to have been obsessed with numerology and once caused economic havoc by introducing banknotes in 45- and 90-kyat denominations because they were divisible by his lucky number—nine.
       Although the army that seized power after the upheavals of 1988 was Ne Win's other vehicle, his influence slipped steadily throughout the 1990s. For this reason, his image had become discredited.
       Ne Win's reclusive life after his retirement from politics in 1988 spawned various tales of his zestful life and eccentric behavior. Ne Win's personal fortunes finally dipped to the lowest when he was placed under house arrest and charges were laid against three family members for trying to overthrow the government.
       His son-in-law, Aye Zaw Win—the husband of Ne Win's daughter Sandar Win—and the couple's three sons, Aye Ne Win, Kyaw Ne Win, and Zwe Ne Win, were sentenced to death for treason. They have appealed.
       People remain skeptical that Ne Win's family members were really plotting a coup within the same military leadership.
       The Ne Win dynasty has been waning since the 1990s, and people do not care about whether Ne Win dies or not. They care about daily survival.
       The man who ruled the country almost four decades cannot leave footprints in the sand of time. Sadly, there is no statue for Ne Win.

Aung Chin Win Aung
Indianapolis, IN

Cold “Comfort”
When I heard that the Baltimore-based hospital ship, The Comfort, was being sent over to the [Persian] Gulf, anguish and anger came over me. For months, war planes roar overhead behind cover of clouds, not mentioned in the news. Now the larger-than-life hospital ship is undeniable proof that this administration fully intends to wage war. Our boys and girls will be maimed and torn to pieces. Countless loved ones will have broken hearts back home.
       The people of Iraq—the children, the women, the elders, the brothers and the sisters, folks just like us—will be decimated by US weapons of mass destruction, including cancer-causing depleted uranium warheads.
       This is beyong belief. The Iraqi people are not evil. War is evil.

Theresa Reuter
Baltimore, Md.

We’re Going the Way of the Holy Land
A quick tour of the Holy Land—if anyone would actually want to go there—will show us what America will look like in ten years if we also continue to invest our time and money in armaments, retaliation, violent solutions and war.
       At the rate we are going, we too will soon have our check-points, concentration camps, homeland security, suicide bombers, hatred, war crimes, secret police, political assassinations, economic stagnation and skies filled with gunships and F-16's.
       Rough Guide to the Holy Land: Israeli citizens are afraid to go out in public and their sons have become trained, blooded killers. 80% of all Palestinians killed by Israeli troops are under the age of 16. The entire population of Palestine lives under house arrest. America, welcome to the future.
       I dare you to turn off your TVs, pack your suitcases and go off to tour Israel/Palestine. They are two sides of the same coin—soon to become American currency too.
       "Israel/Palestine" is the end result of a national policy based on the assumption that human beings can be beaten into submission.
       After your tour of Armageddon, please consider going for a tour of Sweden or Canada or Australia or wherever people emphasize education, healthcare, moral values and democracy. Nobody ever wants to bomb Sweden!

Jane Stillwater,
Berkeley, Ca.

No Profit from War in Iraq
Our government’s mantra in its rush to war in Iraq is that we are merely protecting American values and wish only freedom for the Iraqi people. Anyone who suggests that our motives are greed for oil profits must be “with the terrorists”!
       A basic American value is that we would rather see 10 guilty persons go free than to punish one innocent person. That being the case, we obviously can’t risk the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqis, much less American soldiers, in order to change the regime of one S.O.B. Neither can we risk even the appearance of a conflict of interest in regards to Iraq’s government-owned oil industry. We are, after all, only interested in democratizing Iraq’s government so it can be just like all our other allies.
       Therefore, any further military attack on Iraq should be accompanied by a solemn pledge, before the nations of the world, that no U.S. (or allied) oil company will in any way, shape or form, attempt to profit, directly or indirectly, from Iraq’s new democratic government’s oil company.

A. Robert Kaufman,
Baltimore, Md.

I want to thank McDougall, the Canadian, for his input; and thank you for printing it. [See McDougall’s letter.]
       A light shines in Baltimore.

[Name Withheld]

Open Letter to Mr. McDougall
[Note: To comprehend the following, see McDougall’s letter.]

Dear blowhard,
       90% of your ball-less nation lives within 60 miles of our borders. We know why, even if you pretend not to. Yours is a nation of liberals and ultra liberals. What great technical, medical, financial or industrial advancements is your country responsible for? We have problems. All Americans are aware of this. We are also a nation of givers and helpers, and are doing the best we can. We,as a whole, DO NOT BELIEVE much of what our media tells us, and try hard to sort things out.
       But thank the LORD, you have all our problems identified. Now you can concentrate on your socialist goverment’s insistance that the bulk of your countrymen stay on welfare while you dope yourselves silly with your legal pot laws. Americans who live close to your borders are always amused with Canada’s extreme case of national insecurity. (How’s that space program coming along?)

[Name Withheld]

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This story was published on January 8, 2003.
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