Letters - April
Letters to the Editor may be sent to: Honolulu Magazine, 1000 Bishop St., Suite 405, Honolulu, HI, 96808-0913, faxed: 537-6455 or e-mailed: firstname.lastname@example.org.
"Iraq: Was Bush Right?" March 2006
R.J. Rummel, professor emeritus at the University of Hawai'i, Mänoa, wrote a piece in support of U.S. military actions in Iraq.
Thanks to Dr. R.J. Rummel, for his cogent explanation of why thinking Americans and our brave military men and women support the war in Iraq. We need to stand behind President Bush against totalitarian regimes when they threaten humanity. Only when such regimes wither might we then enjoy peaceful lives in a community of stable and free nations.
Democracies don't go to war with each other. Multi-religious societies respect the beliefs of their neighbors and embrace internal peace. Peaceful nations don't murder their own people. Making peace is hard work, and often perilous. Because of America's hard work in Iraq, sovereignty has been restored to a freshly-legitimate Iraqi government with a new constitution and a new Parliament elected in the country's first ever multi-party, democratic election meeting international standards.
In today's world of global interaction, we must stand together. Successful democratic societies reject fundamentalist theocratic rule and mass murder of their own citizens. Why? Because in today's world only free and peaceful societies can unify to prevent another 9-11 or defend against terrorist attacks on embassies, public transport facilities and other such "soft" targets.
Yes, in many ways we have become our brothers' and sisters' keepers.
Bette & Richard Berry, Honolulu
Professor Rummel's article represents the kind of blind idealism, which, in its own way, can be as deadly as a dictatorship. It ignores the fact that the United States not only tolerated but supported Saddam Hussein as a buffer against Iran for years. It is equally oblivious to the fact that the United States has always done business with countries, most notably China and Saudi Arabia, who are far from democratic. Perhaps most telling is Rummel's apparent indifference to the number of innocent people who have been killed in Iraq–most of them Iraqis, 2,200 of them Americans–to fulfill a vague and wide-eyed promise of worldwide democracy.
The mounting reservations about this war are not confined to Democrats and liberals; many Republicans doubt Bush's wisdom and judgment. This war, like Vietnam, was justified by lies. And this war, like Vietnam, diminishes our own power and standing in the world at large. No quotes from the Bush administration are going to change that. No generalities about democracy for all will change the fact that we are less secure now than we were five years ago. No rosy predictions will change the fact that if there is a threat to the United States from North Korea, Iran, or another natural disaster, we are in a nearly impossible bind, our security and that of the world severely compromised for our pains.
In answer to Rummel's essay, I reply that the war is like the Maltese Falcon, and now that the veneer has been scraped off, it is simply time to admit that it was a huge mistake. It is unlikely that anyone in the Bush administration will do so. But if they did, it would be a giant victory for democracy–in our own country.
Les Peetz, Honolulu
"Indulge Yourself," March 2006
In her food column, contributing editor Joan Namkoong wrote about how to prepare and enjoy foie gras.
We were very disappointed in your article touting foie gras. Foie gras production is so cruel to animals that 86 Hawai'i restaurants have pledged not to serve it, and a growing number of consumers refuse to buy it.
Foie gras is produced by force-feeding confined ducks or geese massive quantities of food, via a mechanized pump, several times a day for up to three weeks. At the end of this fattening period, the birds' livers are swollen up to 10 times their natural size. The birds are then slaughtered, and their livers are sold as foie gras. Some birds die when the metal feeding tube rips open their throats. Others die of ruptured internal organs or asphyxiation when food becomes impacted in their throats and digestive systems. Many are so physically debilitated and in so much pain by the end of the force-feeding period that they are unable to stand or walk. The mortality rate of animals in foie gras production far exceeds that of other animal industries.
More information, including a list of the restaurants who have pledged not to serve foie gras, and a recipe for "faux gras," is available at www.nofoiegras.org.
Farm Sanctuary Hawai'i, Ha'iku
What an ugly article. A life of force-feeding for the goose, followed by slaughter, followed by delight at the flavor of its engorged liver, followed by increased risk of heart disease and cancer for the consumer. If the consumption of foie gras is the author's habit, the matter is at least self-contained. However, in these days of increasing health awareness, your magazine has done a disservice to our community by publishing it. The author was not wrong when she wrote "foie gras is a decadent treat."
Professor of chemistry, University of Hawai'i