Thumbing our nose at world?

SATURDAY MAILBOX

September 14, 2002

I was extremely disappointed by The Sun's editorial regarding Secretary of State Colin Powell's public reception at the World Summit on Sustainable Development ("America's black eye," Sept. 6).

The Sun has apparently accepted the Bush administration's spin that the reason for much of the hostility toward the United States is just a matter of - well, spin. But, sadly, it is not merely bad public relations that causes much of the world to have such a negative view of the United States.

Indeed the world has clearly gotten the message from this administration. Pick a subject and the Bush administration has gone it alone, despite world public opinion.

The Bush administration rejected the Kyoto treaty on global warming, notwithstanding the fact that this country is a leading contributor to the problem.

The Bush administration was willing to undermine the international war crimes court unless the world community made what most observers regard as an unnecessary concession that American peacekeeping troops not be subject to the court's jurisdiction.

And, to appease the far right, the administration put women's lives at risk around the world by slashing its contribution to U.N. family planning programs in a heavy-handed response to forced abortions in China.

The Bush administration also continues to support corrupt regimes in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and elsewhere that persecute their populations and sponsor or tolerate terrorist groups, hypocritically undermining our claim that the war on terrorism is a war for freedom and democracy.

No amount of Madison Avenue-Hollywood feel-good hype will turn America's image around.

And such hype would not be necessary if the Bush administration would work with the world rather than against it in solving the critical issues of global poverty, environmental degradation and disease that directly cause the increasing violence and terrorism throughout the world.

Sheldon H. Laskin

Baltimore

The editorial "America's black eye" was way off the mark.

"Unnecessary trouncing in Johannesburg"? Try again. The editorial should read, "Well-deserved trouncing for arrogant unilateralism and hypocrisy." That would be right on the money for a change.

Under President Bush, America has become the world's No. 1 rogue nation, threatening or invading dictatorships it doesn't like while showering money on others.

We have now made it official policy that, yes, America is contributing to global warming, which may destroy life in other parts of the world, but since it doesn't affect America too much, to heck with everyone else.

In fact, that should be our new national motto: "To heck with everyone else."

The only problem is, there are a lot more of them than there are of us.

William Smith

Baltimore

The Sun's editorial "America's black eye" excoriated the administration for giving short shrift to the recent Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development, finding in the united anti-American braying of the attendees some sort of valid message that the United States is the root of environmental evils in the world, and that growth itself is a suspicious, self-limiting concept.

But this is precisely wrong. Growth brings freedom, wealth and knowledge, which protect the environment.

And as the results of the conference show, the United States offers the Third World positive leadership, while the anti-capitalistic coalition revealed itself as morally bankrupt and politically blind.

The tatterdemalion horde of complainers and Luddites who booed Secretary of State Colin Powell cares not one whit that Third World children go hungry while power-grubbers such as Zimbabwe's President Robert Mugabe, egged on by technophobic Greenpeaceniks, refuse cheap, safe, nutritious genetically enhanced crop-based foodstuffs.

The Third World needs clean water, cheap fuel and transparent legal, social, economic and judicial systems to lift people into a better tomorrow.

We can show them the way, while those infected with the unreasoning prejudice of anti-Americanism whine but offer no compelling model of their own.

It is easy for Euro-bankrolled professional "activists" to hoot and holler at the secretary of state. It certainly garners press attention.

But as the signed agreements from Johannesburg prove, Third World leaders worthy of the name understand that the American model of economic growth, democratic government and environmental protection is a model to emulate, not mock.

Sometimes, real leadership means being true to the truth rather than cringing before the critics. Bravo to Mr. Powell and the president for what they did - and didn't do - at Johannesburg.

Charles Kupfer

Camp Hill, Pa.

Question of the Month

In August, Baltimore's public schools announced that about 20,000 city elementary and middle school students would be required to repeat a grade.

Do you think holding back students who haven't met the standards for their grade helps those children or hurts them? Does it make schools more effective or less effective?

Responses are due by Sept. 19.

We are looking for 300 words or less. Letters become the property of The Sun, which reserves the right to edit them. By submitting a letter, the author grants The Sun an irrevocable, non-exclusive right to use and republish the letter, in whole or in part, in all media and to authorize others to reprint it.

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