- The Washington Times - Friday, May 4, 2001

India and China: An insightful comparison

I agree with columnist Amos Perlmutter that "India should become one of our closest allies with Japan, South Korea, and Taiwan" ("China and India in the long run," Commentary, May 1).
Juxtaposing India and China both billion-strong but quite different proves especially useful in dispelling the sort of myths that Mr. Perlmutter calls "historically untrue and intellectually dishonest":
"China is too big and too poor to be a democracy." India is equally populous and even poorer but has been a democracy for more than half a century, whereas the Chinese communist leadership has steadfastly refused political reforms. This proves that democracy is mainly a result of choice and resolve, not inviolable socioeconomic preconditions.
"China will disintegrate if it practices democracy." India is far more racially, linguistically and religiously diverse than China, but democracy proves far more effective than dictatorship in holding this vast country together. Chinas "cohesiveness" is a myth, which is in turn used to justify one-party dictatorship.
"China is a great power with special sensitivities that need to be respected." The Clinton administrations "strategic partnership" with China drove India to explode its nuclear weapons (followed by Pakistan) and caused consternation in Tokyo, Seoul, and Taipei. A China-centered deferential policy has raised regional tensions.
"China is a market of 1 billion, with endless commercial opportunities." The same is true with India rapidly growing and with a burgeoning middle class. In reality, both are emerging markets with comparable risks and reward, red tape and corruption.
India, with a federalist governmental structure and commitment to democracy, offers a model to China. The United States should pursue a more balanced policy toward these two awakening giants.

VINCENT WEI-CHENG WANG
Associate professor of political science
University of Richmond
Richmond

Puerto Rico ungrateful for federal largess

I read with much interest Jack Spencers May 2 Commentary column on the Navys use of the Puerto Rican island of Vieques as a training area and the islands efforts to shut it down ("Vieques Island: Peace vs. quiet").
Although Puerto Ricans are U.S. citizens, they do not pay federal income taxes. Despite this, the territory receives several billion dollars per year in federal spending. What does the mainland United States ask in return for this largess? Not much, other than the use of Vieques as a bombing range.
Now, it appears, even this is too much to ask. Puerto Ricans (along with such misguided mainland politicians as New York Gov. George E. Pataki) dont seem to know or care where the Navy would exercise if it was made to leave the island.
I have a solution: If residents of Puerto Rico dont want to do their part, give them independence and let them provide for their own defense.

JOHN A. BARNES
New York

Protester objects to editorial cartoon

I am outraged about your May 2 editorial cartoon, which depicts an injured white female protester opposed to the closing of D.C. General Hospital who demands not to be taken there for treatment. In the sketch, the protester lies on a stretcher carried by an emergency medical technician and says, "Put me down. Youre not taking me to that dump."
I was the injured protester demonstrating against the shameful and possibly illegal exclusionary action taken April 30 by the citys control board, which rejected the democratically based authority of the D.C. Council and its unanimous decision to keep D.C. General a public hospital. I believe your cartoon twists the reality of what actually occurred on April 30.
As soon as I realized that my injuries were severe enough that I would need immediate emergency transport to a hospital, I demanded that I be transported to D.C. General. I am uninsured, which made it very unlikely that I would receive affordable care at a private hospital.
Initially, the emergency personnel told me that I wouldnt be taken to D.C. General. If I could not be transported to D.C. General, I said, then I would refuse transport despite the severity of my injury and rely on a fellow protester to transport me to D.C. General. It took consultation with the emergency supervisor (and I am grateful to the one emergency medical technician who fought for my right to choose where I would be taken) before I could be taken to D.C. General, where I was treated and later released.
Your editorial cartoon took what I said and consciously distorted it in a manner that I find offensive.

JAMIE LOUGHNER
Washington

The United States of Africa?

Arnold Beichmans argument against an African federation ("Africa dreaming," Op-Ed, May 2) contains an obvious non sequitur. He cites Alexis de Tocquevilles perception that Americans shared views and opinions are the basis of our peaceful society, then immediately describes how mythical such a view is, how it was shattered by the Civil War but nonetheless is still held sacred by many Americans. However, the success of the American federation did not come about because of our collective historical or cultural similarities, but in spite of them. Federalism united states that had, until 1789, retained their complete "sovereignty, freedom, and independence," in part because of economic, religious and political differences. However, the Articles of Confederation failed to provide security or liberty to the American people.
To be sure, Moammar Gadhafi is no Alexander Hamilton, James Madison or John Jay. His support for an African federation probably has little to do with regard for the people of Africa. Nonetheless, the value of federation in securing peace among nation-states with different legal systems, religions and ethnicities has proved itself in the United States and in other countries around the world. The problems that required "a more perfect Union" interstate trade, national defense and civil liberties concerned all Americans and could not be addressed independently by the individual states. No less true is the need for an African federation to address the continentwide problems of AIDS, ethnic conflict and corruption. A United States of Africa could address these problems effectively, establish a thriving free market and end the decades of war that has plagued the rival states.

STACIE OLIVER
Silver Spring

Patience for Peru

In regard to your May 1 editorial "Questions for Peru," I invite you kindly to wait for the results of the ongoing investigation. We should refrain from jumping to conclusions and let the joint binational commission finish its work.

CARLOS ALZAMORA
Ambassador
Embassy of Peru
Washington


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