With the expansion of the European Union, things will become a bit more tricky and less stable, at least in Poland ("Mega Europe," European Edition Cover Story, Nov. 18). The Polish "farm leader" Andrzej Lepper got help from the Democratic Left Alliance (SLD)--the party of Polish Prime Minister Leszek Miller. The SLD, officially supporting the Polish membership in the EU, started to build coalitions with Samoobrona RP (the party of Lepper). They are already prepared in the county councils of Olsztyn, Katowice, and Lublin, in spite of the fact that in Lublin, SLD could cooperate with the PSL (the Farmers Party), which is supporting the Polish membership in the EU. By the way, in Katowice, the farmers account for less than 8% of the population.
When Samoobrona is gaining influence in the predominantly industrial workers' area, it means that Lepper is not a "farm leader" but a leader of poor Poles. All these things and particularly the behavior of the SLD (former communists who call themselves "social democrats") show that some troubles are waiting for Poland in the EU.
No American can imagine a situation where most people in the U.S. cannot communicate with each other. Every country in Europe had and has its own language. I speak German, English, and French. I do not, however, know a word of Polish, Czech, or Greek. Most of these 450 million Europeans are not polyglot. What kind of politics will there be in Europe? Elections without a word or elections with translated information? Information without controlling the source? Forms for projects that you are not able to understand fully?
Even in Brussels the translation of all languages has a huge dimension. My last visit to the EU showed me again the real meaning of what you say--the humor or the anger--cannot be translated. As I understand America, from Alaska to Texas you can talk to everybody. Without this ease of communication, there will be no Europe.
In "Mega Europe" you were optimistic about the future of EU. I agree, but it will come only if European citizens work together. There are signs of disagreement and ethnic hatred in Europe at the moment. I think the reason for political turmoil is the different macroeconomic situations in each member state. America became a supereconomy because foreign immigrants were welcome and contributed ideas for its development. Europeans tend to debase well-educated foreigners.
In my personal opinion, people from the Far East are better educated than Westerners and are more experienced in economic development, period. As a person who wants Europe to be successful, I think the citizens of Europe should love each other and not be xenophobic.
Preston, England The article about terrorism coming to our very doorstep describes Singapore as a place where "surveillance cameras keep watch over virtually all public places" ("Could it happen in Singapore?" Asian Business, Nov. 18). While it is true that we have laws restricting the sales of chewing gum and spitting, it is inaccurate to say that there are cameras monitoring virtually all public places. We do have cameras on our highways to monitor traffic situations and in shopping centers, automated teller machines, and MRT stations for security purposes. However, in many other public places such as parks, public schools, bus stops, etc., there are no cameras. Such a sweeping statement may create the wrong impression of Singapore as a draconian state where personal freedom and privacy is a luxury. Singapore is definitely not such a restrictive place.
Lau Wai Leong
Singapore King George III once said: "I wish nothing but good. Therefore, anyone who does not agree with me is a traitor and a scoundrel." His royal arrogance cost his British Empire the American colonies in 1783. President George W. Bush ("Bush's big sweep," U.S. Election '02, Nov. 18) says to the world: "Either you are with me or you are against me." His arrogance and simplistic unilateral approach in foreign affairs is taking America down a much more dangerous path. Bush is running out of time. The American agenda must be reprioritized to focus on economic and environmental issues, both domestic and global, where long-term American interests and security actually lie--and not on a needless, politically expedient, and costly war on Iraq that may well become endless.
There will be fewer opportunities to put things right in the next 24 months. The Federal Reserve Board, as an example, is quickly running out of ammo and cannot offer up very many more 50 basis-point rate cuts. It's not that easy anyway, and the Fed action demonstrates how deeply concerned it is about the economy.
As Bush now controls the American Congress, there will be no excuses going forward. He certainly won't be able to blame the Democrats (although they can blame themselves).