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Today's Letters: Remain cautious in our dealings with Iran
Letters to the Editor
Published December 9, 2007
A door opens for diplomacy on Iran Dec. 5, editorial
I may be in the minority, but in my opinion it is too early to believe that Iran has halted its nuclear weapons program - even four years ago! Whatever took intelligence that long to arrive at this conclusion?
Of course, it is easy to blame George W. Bush, and certainly his "World War III" can be blamed as much on his disaster in Iraq as on the actual situation in Iran. But nonetheless, our intelligence was very poor on Iraq previously, and it makes you wonder how good it is today on Iran.
The Iranian revolutionary president is still in power with no sign of any real opposition. The International Atomic Energy Agency is the only neutral body able to obtain information on Iran's nuclear program, but how much access does it really have? Yes, of course, let's negotiate - but not turn our backs.
W.H. Riddell, Tampa
Voters are still looking for peace
In 2006, our country was at war, a war justified by untruths, a war conducted by leaders of meager capabilities and questionable motives, a war that has killed nearly 4,000 Americans and hundreds of thousands of others, a war decent Americans desperately wanted to end.
We had an opportunity in November 2006 to vote against the war and its supporters, an opportunity to put in place a political opposition that would finally make it possible. And that's what we did. We voted in a majority opposition House and a majority opposition Senate, and waited for the peace.
We voted for peace, many for impeachment, and indeed some to bring the warmakers to the bar of justice for crimes against humanity. Now another year of war has passed, and we wait yet.
And while we agonizingly wait, we are being asked to vote again in 2008 for those who promised the peace in 2006. The question arises: Are we pawns in a game run by political puppeteers, essentially identical except for their partisan names, perhaps winking at each other as they share the gate receipts? And what bloody difference does it all make?
First, we need to stop sopping up the partisan propaganda from either side. And the larger point is to ask ourselves: What must we do different now to get to peace and decent government?
Rafe Pilgrim, Crystal River
Bush's plan for his war to never end Nov. 30
The best chance for Iraq
This opinion piece by Harold Meyerson is a good example of how hatred destroys rational thinking. No one can predict the future, but the best chance for a successful democratic Iraq - just like Korea, Japan and Germany - is through our military and economic presence. As in these other countries, our military presence provided enough stability and safety after the wars for a democratic government to be established.
It will not be easy or fast. Expect problems and difficulties, but together we can hope and pray for a new democratic ally - Iraq.
Bob Nash, Odessa
A missing piece of peace Dec. 2, Bill Maxwell column
No place for Hamas
I disagree with Bill Maxwell and Yossi Beilin, an Israeli source of Maxwell's column who advocates Hamas participation at the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks because Hamas won a Palestinian election in 2006. But some of us remember that elections don't always produce viable government (Adolf Hitler was an elected official). Hamas is a terrorist organization that vows "death to Israel" and is, therefore, unsuitable for participation in negotiations having as an objective an Israeli state and a Palestinian state living side by side in peaceful coexistence.
Maxwell, a non-Arab, non-Jew (as am I) writes frequently about Israeli-Palestinian issues, always with a Palestinian bias. Accordingly, it isn't surprising that he would embrace Hamas. Nevertheless, Hamas is not the missing piece of peace in Israel or in any of the Middle East's endless conflicts; tolerance is.
Joseph H. Francis, St. Petersburg
Glad for legacy of labor Dec. 2, Robyn Blumner column
The picture painted by Robyn Blumner is rather incomplete. It shows labor's successes and ignores its failures. Yes, labor contributed to the gains made by U.S. workers just after the war. They put the worker on a more balanced footing with management and created significant opportunities for the workers.
But labor created its own failures also. Labor's narrow view of progress doomed it to failure. During the '60s and '70s, labor's objective was not to be a partner with management to create greater productivity and better, more numerous jobs. Rather it was to create impediments to growth on the pretense of protecting the worker.
Blumner points out that Western Europe hasn't experienced the same rise in income inequality. Western Europe should be the poster child for economic stagnation and unemployment, not the ideal of Blumner's aspirations.
Had the unions negotiated stock bonus programs instead of longer vacations, perhaps labor could have become a partner with management in increasing productivity, creating more and better jobs. It was the unions that killed the unions in the United States.
Patrick W. Brown, Tampa
Teachers earn honors, risk bonus Dec. 5
Just watch them
Thanks, St. Petersburg Times, for applauding the 1,700 teachers in our state who earned national board certification this year, pushing Florida to No.1 in the nation.
The long, arduous effort required to earn this honor, aptly dubbed the "gold seal for good teaching" is only partly motivated by the "up to $8,540" per year bonus. These dedicated educators are constantly seeking ways to improve their classroom skills.
If legislators and others overseeing this program want to evaluate the effectiveness of the present system, they would do well to pay less attention to cold statistics concerning student performance and, instead, schedule personal unannounced drop-in appearances in schools all over the state and see for themselves.
These teachers who have "bothered" to devote months of research and effort to gain certification are glorious role models for their young students and undoubtedly they are the kind of individuals who delight in each "aha" moment that happens in their classroom (even more than the monetary bonus their endeavors earned for them).
Marie Wemett, St. Petersburg
In a news conference last week, our president said, in part: "Iran was dangerous, Iran is dangerous ..."
Sadly, many countries in the world could say the same thing about the United States, thanks to the actions and comments by our president and vice president during their time in office.