Bidding Adieu to France

Bidding Adieu to France
Re “Why they leave France” [April 16]: There is a typically French disease that prompts citizens to overcriticize the country. Those judgments are, most of the time, merciless and exaggerated. I’ve traveled a lot, and I can tell you that people in the rest of the world are able to be supportive of their own country without being stupidly patriotic. You can certainly find thousands of faults with France, but there are still a million reasons to stay here, one of the best places to live in the world. Maybe the real problem is that France simply has too many ungrateful inhabitants.
Arnaud Gavard, PARIS

The emigration wave you reported is not worse in France than in most other countries. Of course, there are problems — I myself am an expatriate — but the article’s generalizations and overall spirit were biased. You had better investigate the extreme-right speeches of the conservatives’ idol, Nicolas Sarkozy, instead of presenting him as a center-right guy. He is France’s main problem. There are many French like me who will never go back if he is elected President.
Romain Koszul, Cambridge, MASSACHUSETTS, U.S.

An Administration Implodes
After reading Joe Klein’s “An administration’s epic collapse” [April 16], I felt like hiding in my closet until Election Day. In the meantime, I don’t know how much more the thinking people of this country will be able to stomach. I am in my advanced years, and I have never seen our country suffer such an outrage as this Administration. Sad to say, I don’t think we know all that has gone on behind the walls of this White House. I am not calling for impeaching President George W. Bush, since removing him from office would simply bring forth someone far more reckless. We can only look forward to voting in change on the next Election Day.

Klein is to be congratulated for his straightforward assessment of Bush and his Administration. This is a very scary, sad state of affairs. It is baffling to think that President Bill Clinton was impeached for lying about an affair, while Bush hasn’t gotten the same treatment for putting the country in such a terrible situation.

Blaming Bush for the failures at Walter Reed Army Medical Center is a bit unfair, and I am not one to defend him. There isn’t a veteran out there who doesn’t know that the military health-care system was a mess long before Bush became President. The blame for Walter Reed must rest primarily on the shoulders of the Army, whose policy of hiding problems rather than correcting them finally caught up with it.
Jim Kindred, Chief Warrant Officer Four Army National Guard , CORINTH, MISSISSIPPI, U.S.

We the Critics
The beauty of American Idol is the notion that my vote could change someone else’s life for the better [April 16]. But the powers that be at Idol have gone out of their way to undermine winning candidate Taylor Hicks, barely acknowledging his debut album on the show and taking every opportunity to criticize him in the media. My hours on the phone were rewarded last month in Nashville when Hicks delivered an emotional performance of everything from his original music to that of the Carter Family. It was the best vote I have cast in 28 years.

Home for the Holidays
Kudos to Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for a wonderful diplomatic and public relations coup [April 16]. He released the British captives at the right time. I particularly enjoyed his remark that the act was a “gift” to Britain for Easter and the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday. Contrast this to the hanging of Saddam Hussein on the first day of ‘Id al-Adha by the American puppets in Iraq. I am happy that this issue was resolved peacefully and hope that leaders in the Middle East will take a more pragmatic approach and not be rhetorically provocative, which serves no useful purpose. Well done, Iran.
Sivaswamy Mohanakrishnan, AUCKLAND

Reading about Ahmadinejad, I was reminded that people fixated on the past deny themselves the promise of the future.

Sticking Up for the E.U.
I was astonished by the comments of fellow readers in response to the cover story on Europe’s turning 50 [April 9]. I am a proud British citizen of 21 who is extremely thankful to my nation for the life I lead. I am not, however, naive about why I am able to have a comfortable life. Stability throughout Europe has been ensured by sharing interests and pooling resources. Who are those people who believe the European Union is anything but beneficial? Do they know that citizens of less developed countries seek a sense of security that Europeans take for granted? Having been born in Zambia, I know. I am disgusted by the fact that your readers can so easily ponder tossing aside the E.U. just because they sit every Saturday morning in their comfortable armchairs and read Time without having to worry about anything.

Taming Terrorism’s Reign
Thank you for the unbiased, informative article summarizing the civil conflict in Sri Lanka [April 16]. I am well-versed in the struggle between the Sri Lankan government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam . Although I have spent virtually my whole life in the U.S., I am of Sri Lankan-Tamil origin and have long been dismayed by the American stereotype of Tamil Tigers as terrorists as well as other misunderstandings. There are extremely sad events occurring on both sides of the war, and I thank you for bringing this to light. It’s about time. I have been to the north of Sri Lanka and have seen the immense suffering of many Tamil people. Thanks for writing the truth.

Having taken the Sri Lankan air force by surprise, the L.T.T.E. has demonstrated it is possible for a terrorist group to acquire aircraft and strike targets with precision. The Sri Lankan government must realize that continued attacks against rebel strongholds in the north will never bring the L.T.T.E. to the negotiating table. Faith in a military solution will only increase the tally: more than 65,000 civilians killed and half a million people left homeless. Without isolating Velupillai Prabhakaran’s L.T.T.E. politically and diplomatically, there can be no hope of defeating the outfit. And without finding a just and lasting solution to the problem of Tamil identity and victimization, Sri Lanka will never enjoy peace.
Srinivasan Balakrishnan, JAMSHEDPUR, INDIA

The tragedy of the Sinnathambi family is not unique. Civilian casualties and displacement can occur in any armed conflict, whether the guise is ethnic or religious strife. Once a dispute becomes full-blown war, the weapons industry takes over by supplying arms to both sides of the dividing line. This is a major reason for prolonged conflicts, and in this regard the action of the U.S. government to prevent weapons from reaching the L.T.T.E. is commendable.
Jayantha Guruge, DAVIS, CALIFORNIA, U.S.

Playing Politics
Garry Kasparov, one of the greatest chess masters, continues to attract world attention with whatever moves he makes, and his challenging of Russian President Vladimir Putin is no different [April 9]. But real-life politics is not as simple as predicting your opponent’s moves. In trying to wade through muddy and turbulent waters, Kasparov may get quite wet if not submerge completely. After all, he will be dealing with the darkest impulses of human beings, which don’t yield easily predicted moves. It may be more meaningful for Kasparov to keep igniting the interest of young chess players around the world or be a unicef ambassador to help abjectly poor children. Treading the ugly path of politics might not be the best option for a man of unspoiled integrity.

Kasparov has said a 1985 world championship chess match that was ended unjustly and prematurely “was the beginning of my political career.” Kasparov was an underdog in chess politics. Now he’s an underdog again, this time in Russian politics. Let’s hope he is not playing Russian roulette.
Poch Peralta, MANILA

Cutting Carbon Emissions: Idea No. 52
The biggest way to reduce carbon emissions wasn’t listed [April 9]: don’t have more than two children. Although the impact is very high, the feel-good factor is very low. Overpopulation is the biggest factor contributing to greenhouse gases, but nobody likes to point it out. How much carbon can one person generate in a lifetime? Quite a lot — especially if you’re American. If we don’t voluntarily reduce our population now, nature will do it for us, whether we like it or not.