Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 27, 2006

Sovereignty is core of panda problem

It is unfortunate that an article describing the ongoing controversy over the pandas the People's Republic of China (PRC) has offered to Taiwan should so widely miss the crux of a dispute that is part of a complex issue regarding sovereignty ("China using pandas in battle for hearts and minds of Taiwan," March 22).

Contrary to what the article suggests, the Taiwanese government does not oppose accepting the pandas because it fears some ridiculous "Trojan panda" scenario.

The true reason the government has not accepted the animals is that the PRC, in its never-ending efforts to undermine Taiwan's sovereignty, is treating the transfer of the pandas as a domestic issue, in which customs procedures need not apply.

However, Taiwan is a nation of well-defined laws and regulations. Any transfer of the animals must be handled according to its international customs regulations - and this is something that the PRC is loath to do, as it would be tantamount to recognizing the legitimacy of Taiwan's democratic government.

The real joke in all of this is that the PRC has made it abundantly clear that it is willing to use anything, even an endangered species, as a tool to undermine Taiwan's democracy.

But if the leaders in Beijing were truly serious about winning Taiwanese hearts and minds, they would remove the 700-plus missiles they have aimed at Taiwan and begin talks with its lawfully elected government.

Albert Liu

Washington

The writer is deputy director of the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States.

`Blind mice' caused quagmire in Iraq

Thanks to G. Jefferson Price III for his sane analysis of the "three blind mice" (President Bush, Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld) who continue to waste America's resources and reputation on the ill-begotten war in Iraq ("Three blind mice," Opinion * Commentary, March 21).

The alleged Iraqi weapons of mass destruction did not exist, the U.S. "liberators" were not greeted with cheering crowds throwing flowers, and the mission was not accomplished in Iraq.

Besieged Iraqis today say that they feel only bitterness and disappointment with the United States. And Americans, who have been misled repeatedly by our leaders, are supposed to accept the fantasy Mr. Bush proclaimed in Ohio last week that "the strategy is working" in Iraq ("`Strategy is working' in Iraq," March 22).

How much longer do we have to wait? How many more deaths and injuries must we endure?

How many more lies can we bear until the Republican sycophants or some courageous Democratic leaders finally wake up and admit the truth: that the emperor and his ministers have no clothes, no credibility and no ethical bearings?

Amy Grace

Baltimore

It's not the Israelis who discriminate

Once again, a Sun Middle East correspondent has missed the point. In his article about Israel's indifference to its Arab citizens, John Murphy overlooks the uniqueness of the fact that Israeli Arab political parties even exist ("Vote crucial to Israeli Arabs," March 22).

Contrast this with the situation in Arab countries, where the few Jews who remain do so at daily risk to their lives and livelihood.

Political activity by Jews in these autocratic regimes is nonexistent.

Israeli Arabs, on the other hand, have freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of assembly and protest of a sort that they could not even dream of if they lived elsewhere in the Middle East.

They receive generous health care, subsidies and welfare payments while, by and large, contributing little to the prosperity and security of the state.

Only a blind person could fail to see who the real racists and practitioners of apartheid are in this troubled part of the world.

Mitchell Klapper

Baltimore

Lowering standards sends wrong signal

The decision by the city schools to lower the standards for entry to Western High School is illustrative of a troubling trend in our society: If we can't meet standards, we lower them ("A question of standards," March 23).

Why not challenge the school system to produce more qualified candidates and leave the seats at Western High empty as a marker of the system's lack of progress in educating our children?

Ken Gelbard

Baltimore

Marylanders need right to self-defense

Recently, a Baltimore citizen was attacked by several men at Cross Keys. During the resulting melee, this law-abiding citizen, who is one of a very select number with a Maryland concealed weapon permit, managed to defend himself using his handgun ("Documents detail Cross Keys shooting," March 21).

Unfortunately, most citizens do not qualify for a concealed weapon permit in Maryland.

Why? Because Maryland requires that anyone applying for a permit to carry a concealed weapon have a valid reason for doing so, leaving just about everyone to the mercy of their attackers should they find themselves in a similar situation.

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