Magazine

Investment May Be the Answer to Terrorism


Your coverage of the economic impact of the September 11 attack will be required reading in my economics principles class now under way ("Rethinking the economy," Special Report, Oct. 1). The histories of many countries, e.g., Ireland, provide ample evidence that young people will continue to heed calls to political radicalism, terrorism, or crime in places where no hope for economic or political betterment exists at the economic bottom.

After we take the revenge we feel we must and build the electronic security Maginot Line we naively think will protect us, the U.S. government and/or the global business community should fund, set up, and actually run a global network of Small Business Administration-style venture-capital organizations with branches in the cities of impoverished countries. Staffing might come from specially trained Peace Corps-style volunteers [drawn from] the ranks of experienced retired managers. If we really believe that capitalism is the best long-run answer, let's provide some capital.

Thomas P. Egan

Moravian College

Bethlehem, Pa. There is no intrusion upon a person's privacy from government records of fingerprints or similar biometric data or from the requirement of a national identity card ("Security vs. civil liberties," Special Report, Oct. 1).

By contrast, dossiers of nonbiometric data do pose a threat to privacy and civil liberties--such facts as a person's religious or political beliefs, organizational memberships, familial relationships, sources of income, or expenditure patterns, etc. If such dossiers must be maintained on a very limited portion of the population, [we need] the most stringent safeguards to assure confidentiality and that the information is never used in an improper or illegal manner.

Benjamin D. Sherman

Saddle Brook, N.J.

Your statement that "Japanese civilians were interned during World War II" is misleading. The people interned were Americans, not Japanese. Americans of Japanese descent were rounded up on the West Coast and sent to internment camps solely on the basis of their ancestry.

T. Tokiyama

Los Angeles "The roots of resentment" (Special Report, Oct. 1) should also include the resentment that Americans feel toward the rest of the world. This resentment has its roots in the way America is treated by its "allies" and countries that are the beneficiaries of billions of dollars in U.S. aid. It is increasingly clear that only one country will stand with the U.S. in times of conflict: Britain. The rest of the world wants the U.S. to mind its own business. We should do exactly that. If we have made the rest of the world hate us by giving them aid and supporting them in their times of need, what do we have to lose?

Michael Laudon

San Jose, Calif.

"The roots of resentment" left out one important point: America has often developed partnerships with oppressive dictators and regimes, giving them weapons, training, intelligence, and money through covert operations. These partners have committed horrible crimes against their own people and, when we no longer had a use for them, we've fashioned these temporary "friends" into enemies. As a result, the U.S. is often perceived as being a capricious, unfair bully that makes rules, treaties, and friendships, only to break them when we feel it is in our best interests.

Douglas Reed

Morrisville, N.C. "Bush's fragile coalition" (Special Report, Oct. 1) need not be fragile if the so-called friendly Arab nations decide to do themselves a favor by working with us to remove the "terrorist cancer" that they have been harboring for some time.

This will be the beginning of the end of their own regimes unless they act now with us as true partners for their own safety. The Bush Administration's task is to hammer this point over and over. (They may still choose to dislike our way of life if they so desire.)

Zaven S. Touloukian

Camden, S.C. Whereas drug users in the U.S. are treated as criminals who should be locked up, drug users in Europe are more likely to be invited to participate in society ("It's time to give up the war on drugs," Economic Viewpoint, Sept. 17). Heavy users are helped through treatment rather than penalties. Results appear to be overwhelmingly good and include reduced crime rates.

Stefan Hultberg

Roskilde, Denmark

I can't believe how governments all over the world are willing to forfeit billions of dollars of potential drug-tax income to the mafia. Meanwhile, they have no objections to selling alcohol--not to mention weapons!

Vera Schmidt

Vienna


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