Your commentary "Foreign policy: Bush is half right" (News: Analysis & Commentary, Oct. 7) is the best article I have read on this issue and raises hope that critical voices may keep America from pushing the world into anarchy. With the decline of the Soviet Union, America has obviously lost the necessary balance of power to keep it on the track of its traditional values.
If the Administration stays as arrogant as it is now, the American way won't be understood as a blessing but as a danger, and America will lose its friends abroad. I say this with deep regret.
Bruce Nussbaum suggests that the President should check with foreign governments to ensure that his strategy for national security is not offensive to them. The title of the document is The National Security Strategy of the United States of America. The President is right to suggest a strategy that puts U.S. interests above all others and to say "that only America is permitted to ask and answer these critical questions." There is no arrogance at all in the document. It is a straightforward approach to the future security of the U.S.
The Bush foreign policy is not new and somewhat dangerous; rather, it is old, archaic, and incredibly dangerous. As Nussbaum writes, the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia did indeed initiate a new concept of state sovereignty. However, a Westphalian state was sovereign only so long as it had the power to guarantee it. We live in a post-Westphalian era of sovereignty, when states must meet basic U.N. standards to become recognized. While the U.N. is seemingly impotent when it comes to sanctions, perhaps its greatest gift toward peace is defining sovereignty (through no other mandate than the fact that history seems to have let it). President Bush's foreign policy is a return to a dangerous and archaic system in which the other guy is sovereign only as long as you choose to recognize him as such.
Gabriel C. Reis
Those who complain now will be amazed at how many support the U.S. when we finally enter Iraq. Get used to it. America has a President who is a true leader instead of a consensus-builder and poll-watcher.
Much has changed since September 11, and it was not we who initiated the change in the rules of engagement in the world. Our enemies are sheltered by outlaw states, and we must do what is necessary to protect our people, our allies, and those others who cannot defend themselves. The inevitable terrible consequences of inaction against the enemy will settle what has to be done at a continuing high price.
I voted for George Bush, and I think most people would agree with the ends he desires. But the means he is using and proposes to use are wrong. Now is the time to establish the rules for the next level of a peaceful world civilization. We have a chance to establish democracy as the way countries deal externally with each other, as well as internally with their own peoples.
I can only assume Nussbaum's "international effort that engages America's allies" refers to us asking permission from such countries as France and Saudi Arabia, two nations that can never be counted on to stand with us and fight against terrorists.
As for President Bush's plan causing "uncertainty and anxiety about U.S. intentions," I say, well, good! Ronald Reagan probably caused the past Soviet Union plenty of uncertainty and anxiety, and look where they are today.
Jerry L. Glover
As I read "Foreign policy: Bush is half right," I was deeply disturbed by Bruce Nussbaum's reservations about a preemptive action against Iraq or any other renegade state. My grandmother, Esther Nussbaum, lived in Poland at a time when world leaders and magazine editors preferred the expediency of not opposing a dictator and an impending mass murderer. She was mercifully killed by a bomb in 1939. Later, her husband, five of her six children, and all of their spouses perished in various less humane ways.
A lesson should have been learned.
Bruce Nussbaum's superb commentary on The National Security Strategy of the United States of America [should be] included as an annex to this document in order to help all its future readers to gain the proper perspective.
Otto H. Nowotny
Although Mr. Nussbaum's supposition regarding preemption is theoretically O.K., the reality is something quite different. He cites as an example Israel's bombing of the Iraqi nuclear reactor in 1981, which prevented Iraq from having nuclear weapons during the Persian Gulf War, yet which drew heavy criticism from the U.N. (big surprise!), the U.S., and Britain. The reality is that if Israel had not done so, there would probably not have been a war. With Iraq armed with nuclear weapons, Saddam would have gone into Kuwait, and the U.S. would not have done anything about it. Further consequences of not having destroyed the reactor could well have been an Iraqi nuclear attack on Israel with Israel retaliating in kind.
Jack De Lowe
When discussing President Bush's foreign policy, you refer to "nations whose citizens help finance terrorism, such as Saudi Arabia." How fast the U.S. forgets the Irish Republican Army collections tins in Boston bars. It was U.S. citizens who funded the IRA's terrorist attacks on buildings in London and other cities that killed hundreds of innocent civilians. You seem also to have forgotten the sight of Gerry Adams walking at the head of New York's St. Patrick's Day parade while refusing to condemn terrorist attacks on civilian targets. The U.S. should not forget its own past.
As an American living outside the country, I sometimes find myself wondering if my fellow countrymen and particularly my government have lost all sense of reality. Our interest clearly lies in that elusive "New World Order" of the rule of law: the expansion of effective international cooperation. So we destroy any possible basis for leading or even permitting it to happen by preaching and practicing unilateralism and making it clear that we have no intention of cooperating with anyone on any issue except on our own terms.
Montr?al, France As we spotlight the failure of boards to perform their fiduciary duties properly, let us not forget that changes we make will also affect the ability of these new boards to support and hire better CEOs ("The best & worst boards," Cover Story, Oct. 7). Most auditors know how to hire and manage auditors. Few auditors become great CEOs.
Be careful what you wish for.
Dennis I. Schneider
An independent board of directors can never know what the management knows about the company. The law has it backwards when it holds the board to be the ultimately responsible entity. However, we do not need new laws. We need the courts to enforce a 300-year-old rule of equity that fiduciaries may never profit from self-dealing.
Entrenched managers and directors will improve corporate governance only when they can be held accountable by being voted out of office and replaced with directors chosen by shareholders. That's virtually impossible under the current system, which requires shareholder nominees to go through a prohibitively expensive proxy-solicitation process. Les Greenberg of the Committee of Concerned Shareholders and I have submitted a petition to the Securities & Exchange Commission to amend SEC Rule 14a-8(i) to allow shareholders access to company proxies for their own director nominees.
Elk Grove, Calif.
Banning consulting fees to directors appears to eliminate conflicts of interest, but it actually fosters less capable directors and less knowledgeable consultants. In-depth paid consulting assignments give the director better insights into the firm and equip that board member to make more informed decisions.
La Grange Park, Ill.
"The best & worst boards" seems to equate bad boards with future Enrons, WorldComs, and Tycos. I am sorry that you put Apple Computer Inc. in that category. Technology companies require board members who know the industry--not ignorant outsiders. They also do not want outsiders who may steal their company secrets.
Your criteria for the worst boards cannot be applied to all industries. Apple is a great company. It is probably the only company that is making and selling innovative products in this depressing economy.
Hong Kong "Needed now: Laws to can spam" (Legal Affairs, Oct. 7) mentions the Direct Marketing Assn. but neglects to point out that we have the nation's only e-Mail Preference Service. Consumers can add their e-mail address for free at www.dmaconsumers.org and reduce the number of unwanted commercial e-mail messages. The DMA was the first group to require that e-mail solicitations include, among other things, an opt-out address, disclosure of the marketer's identity, and a clear and honest subject line. In addition, our guidelines require marketers to provide a physical address for consumers to seek redress.
H. Robert Wientzen
President & CEO
Direct Marketing Assn.
New York Several years ago, I wrote you a letter (which you did not publish) that protested your stand on the proposed repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act ("The breakdown in banking," News: Analysis & Commentary, Oct. 7). In it, I said that permitting commercial banks to engage in investment banking was akin to giving a drunk another bottle of whiskey. This was in the wake of recurring scandals among commercial banks, such as the ING Barings bank wipeout. I said then that bankers could not, and cannot, be trusted to perform both functions. The Glass-Steagall Act was passed for just that reason. Guess what? Your article well documents the abuses that we could so easily have prevented by not repealing Glass-Steagall. Is crow on the menu in your lunchroom?
James C. Daugherty
Bradenton, Fla. "The telecom depression: When will it end?" (Special Report, Oct. 7) says that the wireless market "is expected to be flat this year and next." One of the things that all industry observers agree on is that wireless is growing now and will continue to do so into the foreseeable future. According to a recent Yankee Group report, U.S. wireless-carrier revenues will rise 7.3% a year, to $114 billion in 2006, up from this year's estimated $86 billion.
Only about half the households in the U.S. have wireless service. This translates into a long runway of untapped opportunity for the industry--more than $50 billion a year in wireless voice services alone, plus $12 billion to $15 billion more by mid-decade if you throw in wireless data.
Basking Ridge, N.J.