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Letters to the editor, 03/26/03

Wednesday, March 26, 2003

Why do I dislike Bush? He seems to lack real spiritual fiber

This letter is in response to "Many Hate Bush for His Adherence to Moral Standards," the March 20 letter by Bob Cranmer, a former Allegheny County commissioner. I appreciated the letter because it allowed me to reflect on exactly why I don't like President George W. Bush.

To be clear, I did not vote for President Bush, I oppose the war in Iraq, and although I had not thought about it before Cranmer mentioned it, yes, I might have followed President Clinton into the war. I believe that President Clinton may have been much more likely to forge a multinational war effort as the first President Bush did 12 years ago.

However, my dislike for President Bush has absolutely nothing to do with his being a religious man and speaking about God. In fact, it is quite the opposite. These past weeks, I have seen the world's spiritual leaders -- the pope, Bishop Desmond Tutu and the Dalai Lama -- speak out against a war in Iraq. Also, almost all major U.S. religious groups have spoken against the war. I have listened to and respected what they have had to say.

My dislike and mistrust of President Bush is exactly the opposite. In fact he seems to have no real spiritual or religious substance. This is shown by his lack of humility, his lack of respect for other people and their opinions, and his lack of understanding and concern for the greater interconnectedness of all of life.

He has shown with his actions and words that he does not care about the opinions or concerns of the people of the United States, the concerns and opinions of other countries, the laws and principles of the United Nations, and the moral thoughts and concerns of the world's spiritual leaders.

I fear him because, in the same way that he has forged ahead, mostly unilaterally, arrogantly and aggressively with this war in Iraq, he is also forging ahead in the dismantling of our civil liberties, our social programs, our educational systems, our economy and our environmental well-being. He does not seem so much to believe in God, than to believe that he is god.

RENE LAVENTURE
Regent Square


Say what?

In his March 20 letter Bob Cranmer discusses opposition to a war in Iraq. Mr. Cranmer argues that such opposition is based not on principle ("if Bill Clinton were pursuing this war these same folks would be supporting him 100 percent"), but due solely to hatred for President Bush, because "he is a man who believes in, prays to and honors God."

Mr. Cranmer characterizes Bush's opponents as people who "believe God doesn't exist, there are no rules, do whatever you want, there are no consequences."

I wonder then, how Mr. Cranmer would explain the objection to this war by numerous religious leaders, including the pope. Does he also question the existence and sincerity of their faith?

KENNETH MELTZER
Shadyside


Jesus: a true moral leader

I wish to address the wrongheaded notion that any objection to President Bush's illegal actions in Iraq must stem from "immorality," as suggested by Bob Cranmer's March 20 letter. In fact, it is profoundly moral to oppose our leaders' use of violence in furthering their agendas.

Furthermore, President Bush is not the "ultimate symbol" for those who seek to live moral lives. President Bush is a politician and the secular figurehead of our nation, who, like most politicians, sometimes spouts his devotion to a higher power. But this does not make the president a moral leader or a godly man.

For those of us who call ourselves Christians, including the president, our actions are supposed to exemplify the teachings of Christ. But just as the peaceful majority of Muslims are tired of seeing their religion twisted to promote violence in the name of God, those of us who believe in Jesus' way of peace are tired of having our religion hijacked by those Christians comfortable with promoting the terrorism of war.

Did Jesus lead an army against the oppressive and violent Roman Empire? No, instead he taught people to love one another and to "turn the other cheek." Jesus healed the sick and brought hope to the poor, demonstrating God's love through acts of compassion and quiet courage -- even in the face of death. He remains a timeless example of real moral leadership. "Blessed are the peacemakers."

HEATHER STRATFORD
Mennonite Urban Corps
Highland Park


About Bush's thoughts

I feel compelled to comment on Bob Cranmer's March 20 letter in which he says that George W. Bush is "a man who believes in, prays to and honors God. He is a moral man who honors the Lord." How do you know, Mr. Cranmer, what is in the heart and mind of George W. Bush?

And weren't there a few other times in history when men rallied in the name of God: the Crusades, jihad, the Inquisition?

All I have to say is: God, save me from your followers.

SUSAN RALICH
Bellevue


He did Bush no favor

I'm sure George W. Bush would cringe if he had read Bob Cranmer's March 20 letter. Having a supporter like Cranmer is comparable to "with friends like that, who needs enemies?"

The president at this time is involved in the ugliness of war and the only support Cranmer can come up with is the old Bush/Clinton issue.

Cranmer's effort to promote and create bipartisanship during this time is total self-aggrandizement. There is going to be a lot of hardship coming to Americans, and petty attitudes like Bob Cranmer's are going to be of no value to anyone.

TESS VRABEL
Brookline


Blame this 'lost opportunity' on Turkish Cypriot leadership

Regarding the March 15 editorial "Cyprus Collapse: A Lost Opportunity to Unite the Island": While we share your concern about the breakdown of the recent U.N. effort to end the forcible division of Cyprus imposed by Turkey since 1974, the editorial seems ill-informed when it casts equal blame to all parties involved.

In fact, as it has been widely reported, the talks collapsed because Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, with strong support from the government of Turkey, bluntly rejected the U.N. proposal. They, alone, are responsible for the impasse.

In announcing the breakdown at The Hague on March 11, U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan left no doubt as to who was responsible. On the key issue he put before the parties, of submitting the U.N. plan for a vote before the people of Cyprus as a referendum, Mr. Annan said: "Mr. Papadopoulos answered that he was prepared to do so, as long as the people knew what they were being asked to vote on."

In sharp contrast, Mr. Annan then added: "Mr. Denktash answered that he was not prepared to agree to put the plan to a referendum. He said he had fundamental objections to the plan on basic points."

U.S. State Department spokesman Richard Boucher endorsed that position when he said: "We find it very regrettable that Mr. Denktash has denied Turkish Cypriots the opportunity to determine their own future and to vote on such a fundamental issue." So did members of Congress, with strong statements in the Congressional Record, blaming the Turkish side's intransigence for the impasse, while praising President Tassos Papadopoulos for his constructive approach to the peace process. Turkey is the perpetrator of a 29-year-old aggression against a small neighboring country.

A viable solution that will reunify Cyprus entails the withdrawal of Turkey's occupation forces as called for by U.N. resolutions. "This occupation," as the European Union spokesman noted after the collapse of the Cyprus talks, "has always been considered illegal by the international community, including the EU." For that reason, the European Union had warned Turkey, that "if Cyprus settlement efforts failed, it would be very difficult to start accession talks with Turkey."

Contrary to your suggestion that the Greek Cypriots "are walking away" from the recent setback "with little or no incentive to renew negotiations," the reunification of our country remains the top priority of the Cyprus government and the Greek Cypriot community, as it is also for the vast majority of Turkish Cypriots.

As President Papadopoulos stated, despite the "understandable sense of disappointment from the failure of the most intense effort for the solution of the Cyprus problem, we will intensify our efforts to promote a solution that would be functional and viable and which will serve the interests of the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots." These efforts, he pledged, will "continue before and after Cyprus joins the European Union." We can only hope that the Turkish leaders will reconsider their anachronistic, self-defeating attitude and join him as genuine peace partners to end the shameful division of Cyprus.

We appreciate your focus on the reunification of Cyprus and agree that the Cyprus issue is important enough to merit U.S. involvement in trying to solve it. But we take strong exception to the sinister suggestion in the March 3 editorial "Undividing an Island" that "Cyprus could be included in a U.S. aid package for Turkey," in exchange for U.S. forces using Turkish territory against Iraq. Our country is not anybody's bargaining chip for bribing Ankara for whatever reason. We urge you to seriously reconsider your misguided position.

For the record, the entire Republic of Cyprus will be admitted into the European Union. But EU rules and regulations will be suspended in the republic's area occupied by Turkey until Cyprus is reunited.

MILTOS MILTIADOU
Press Counselor
Embassy of Cyprus
Washington, D.C.


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