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September 12, 2013 at 7:02 PM
We should recognize the opportunity the United States has to set a positive example for many countries in the Middle East by expressing our popular will on the decision to bomb Syria over their use of chemical weapons. [“Syrians plead their case for, against U.S. military strikes,” page one, Sept. 9.]
The Arab Spring has unleashed an uprising of peoples who have often had generations of oppressive rule that provided them with no chance for popular expression.
Dictators in these countries ruled without democratic checks and balances, and consequently made decisions that were not in the best interests of the governed people.
Free, fair and regular elections are not the only way to demonstrate how a democracy functions. We can clearly tell our representatives that we want military action to be a last resort, after diplomacy and other options are tried and exhausted.
By aligning our decision on military action in Syria with the will of the people, we can show that the principles of the Declaration of Independence — that “governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed” — applies to the United States and could apply to Syria.
David Roe, Seattle
Robert Reed told it pretty well, and, I agree with what he had to say. [“Northwest Voices: U.S. and Syria,” Opinion, Sept. 5.]
Removing Assad from power is only going to create a vacuum which will provide an avenue for a dozen (or more) splinter factions to attempt to fill. More and more civil war will follow. More rockets and missiles from U.S. warships will only contribute to the mayhem and death.
Finally, Secretary of State John Kerry calling Syrian President Bashar Assad a thug and a murderer is absolutely ludicrous.
F.L. Hutson, Seattle
July 11, 2013 at 7:00 AM
New government has big responsibility
Thank you for your coverage of Egypt, and the column by David Brooks last Sunday. [“Defending the Egyptian coup,” Opinion, July 7.]
When starting a new country on the road to democracy, we need to remember the following: First, it is a long road. Second, free and fair elections, while essential, do not themselves create democracy. Third, all mature, democratic societies owe their achievement of democracy to a body of democratic laws developed over many years. Finally, a country starting on this road needs a starter package of law — we call it a Constitution — which will guide and circumscribe the actions of future governments to ensure that democratic principles are maintained.
It was ousted President Mohammed Morsi’s violation of the latter that led to his downfall. He stacked the constitutional committee so as to impose laws that he knew would not be acceptable to a large proportion of the country.
The new president now has the task of setting up a more representative committee, including Muslim representatives, that can come up with a solution that people can be persuaded to accept.
This is not going to be easy, and will require a period of relatively competent government for people to calm down. They are going to need all the help they can get.
Richard Tait, Mercer Island
July 9, 2013 at 7:30 AM
Extremism does not fit well in democracy
I am 100 percent in agreement with David Brooks about the need to support the removal of fanatical Islamists from office in Egypt. [“Defending the Egyptian coup,” Opinion, July 7.]
Even if a majority elects a religious extremist, that doesn’t mean that “democracy” has triumphed. I only wish we had some way of dealing with the tea-party fanatics who have been destroying constitutional government over the past few years here at home.
James Freudiger, Seattle
Obama administration has acted strategically
Sometimes the Obama administration gets it wrong, and sometimes, as in the case of Egypt, they get it right.
The zeal with which conservatives rush to criticize any course of action (or non-action) would indicate not dishonesty, but probably a lack of common sense in understanding the nuances of our stated position.
Any observer should realize that if the United States chooses sides in any conflict in the turbulent Middle East, then that automatically poisons the position of our chosen ally.
Columnist David Brooks predictably criticizes Obama for expressing disapproval of the military coup and for defending Morsi’s legitimacy as president. This was a calculated move; the disapproval was relatively mild, and with a wink, we can say we supported democracy.
If we like the result of the coup, then we have it, no need to crow about it and further galvanize Islamist extremists. The lack of support as perceived by the secularists is easier to resolve than a justifiable outcry from Morsi supporters that the United States approved and abetted the overthrow of their democratically elected government.
Tony Chin, Bellevue
June 24, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Everyone has the right to know
After reading the article about genetically modified (GM) wheat, I am left with one overriding thought: We all have the right to know. [“Wheat scare leaves farmers in rough spot,” page one, June 19.]
Washington wheat farmers have a right to know what the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has learned about Monsanto’s GM wheat found in Oregon. We have a right to know what is in our food.
This is why Washington needs to join the growing number of states demanding labeling of GM foods. If we give up our right to know what is in the food we eat or the seeds we plant, we are giving up our democracy.
The right to know is fundamental to American democracy. Stand with the wheat farmers now by demanding the USDA share its information now. Assert your personal rights and vote “yes” on Initiative 522 in November.
Erin Christie, Seattle
June 23, 2013 at 7:00 AM
Proud to be Brazilian
As the only Brazilian student at The Evergreen State College and someone who does not know Brazilians in the area, I feel a sense of responsibility; I need to explain, to give voice, to share with Americans why protesters are taking over Brazil. [“Protesters flood streets in Brazil; violence flares,” News, June 21.]
I was born and raised in São Paulo, Brazil. I grew up understanding that corruption and violence were commonplace. Like most Brazilians of my generation, I was taught that nothing could be done about it.
For the past week, my Brazilian brothers and sisters have gone to the streets to protest poor and inadequate health care and public education, widespread violence, corruption and the complete lack of regard for the basic rights of citizens on the part of the government.
My country has awakened. Twenty years after the end of our military dictatorship, we rise again, now fighting against our elected officials who have disappointed Brazilians who fought so long for a true democracy.
I am thousands of miles away from my country, but I have been watching what is happening back home. I can honestly say, for the first time in my life, that I am proud to be Brazilian.
Gustavo Sampaio, Olympia
June 22, 2013 at 8:00 AM
Protests are part of democracy
Having met and enjoyed the very good company of many emigrates from Turkey, and having had the pleasure of visiting their beautiful country, I have found the news reports of protests there disturbing. [“Turkey’s ‘standing man’ rekindles protest,” News, June 19.]
I called a Turkish friend to commiserate, and she reminded me that demonstrations are part of growing a democracy.
I have been encouraged by the manner in which the Turks are protesting. Their overall good humor, creativity, patience and dignity are impressive. I hope the government of Turkey will respond likewise.
It has seemed to me that the Turks are in a position to show the world that Islam and democracy (and religion and secularism in general) are not mutually exclusive. They can work together to nudge civilization on its upward course. I hope the outcome of the present protests will reinforce those ideals.
Evelyn Lambert, Bellevue
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