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Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada will keep trying to help its two citizens on death row in Iran. (The Canadian Press)
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says Canada will keep trying to help its two citizens on death row in Iran. (The Canadian Press)

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Sept. 11: Actions, words, Iran – and other letters to the editor Add to ...

Actions, words, Iran

Your editorial (Better To Talk With Your Enemies – Sept. 10) misses the essential point that Iran is not interested in negotiation. It only uses the gullibility of its enemies to stall for time while it pursues its goal of becoming a nuclear power.

We insult President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s intelligence when we ignore his threats to destroy a member state of the United Nations. We have every reason to believe that he means what he says about Israel. Prime Minister Stephen Harper is right when he concludes that to maintain diplomatic relations with this hateful regime is to confer a legitimacy that is undeserved.

Brian Smith, Montreal


Embassies are not independent political or governmental entities but are, as former Canadian diplomat Daniel Molgat aptly put it, the ears, eyes and mouth of the Canadian government (Out Of Iran – letters, Sept. 10). Their work may not always be “sexy” or noteworthy, but it’s needed.

We have seen regimes, such as the one in Burma (New Karma For A New Burma – Sept. 10), begin to capitulate after years of sanctions and diplomatic pressure. On the other side of the spectrum, the Canadian embassy in Libya was still open when Canada began drawing up plans to support a military intervention.

Stephen Harper has stated that he will still try to help the Canadians on Iran’s death row. The only difference is that we’re going to rely on another country’s embassy and their diplomats. So much for walking away.

Graham Adria, Edmonton


The closure of the embassy and recall of diplomats from Iran displays a level of misunderstanding of foreign diplomacy on the part of our government that is truly frightening. I believe it was Winston Churchill who said, “To jaw-jaw is always better than to war-war.”

Martin McWaters, Toronto


34 million served

The last time I looked, my passport stated I was born 56 years ago in a place called Canada: It is a country, not a brand (Welcome Is The Brand – editorial. Sept. 8). Further, I am a citizen of that country, and not a customer.

Leo J. Deveau, Regina


Prevention priorities

I’m glad to hear Julian Fantino acknowledge that he’s at the steep end of the learning curve in his new job as Minister of International Co-operation (Fantino Hopes To Shed Light On Misery In The Sahel – Sept. 8).

The situation in the Sahel is complex, like pretty much every development issue. It’s a tangle of security concerns, agricultural and government failure, and the shifting sands of global and development politics.

While urgent responses are necessary for relief interventions, longer-term capacity-building is vital on the development side. Using an analogy to Mr. Fantino’s police career, 911 responders are necessary, but just as necessary are neighbourhood liaisons and community outreach to better prevent crime in the first place.

It’s not as sexy, but consistent funding for longer-term development in West Africa, or anywhere, helps prevent those emergency relief situations.

Brian Cheung, Ottawa


Merka mysteries

Having watched both the Republican and Democratic conventions I am left wondering where the strange country of Merka is? It seems to be populated by people known as proud Merkans. Is it possible that this is the once four-syllable country known as America?

Just curious.

Sally Morrow, Ottawa


It can indeed be puzzling that Americans have an appetite for the questionable economic policies of the Republican Party, as Jeffrey Simpson describes so well (America’s Flight From Fiscal Reality – Sept. 7). The reason may be that each party’s appeal is not about its policies, but its expressions of American mythology.

An enduring thread that Republicans nurture is that of the Rugged Individual, who succeeds through hard work, perseverance and faith. His enemy, so they say, is the unworthy Liberal Socialist, sucking the life from his labours and gutting his social order.

Democrats can’t succeed by countering these myths with reason and arguments. The issues are too complicated, the numbers involved too big and meaningless for most people to analyze them critically. It comes down to which party can tell the best story.

Richard Litke, St. Catharines, Ont.


Happy endings

With a title like The End of Men, Hollywood screenwriters may already be transforming Hanna Rosin’s new book into the next blockbuster disaster flick. That would be unfair. (Heel, Boy – Focus, Sept. 8).

Ms. Rosin’s concept of “end” appears to borrow from Francis Fukuyama’s work, The End Of History And The Last Man. Prof. Fukuyama’s “end” denotes not a demise but the evolved perfection of our species. If, as Ms. Rosin suggests, men are abandoning the masculinity of Homer Simpson and adopting a few womanly characteristics, a happy “end” may in fact be near.

Farley Helfant, Toronto


Do not-not-not call

Computer-assisted telephone interviewing is a complex beast in which do-not-call rules may actually be ignored (CRTC Investigating Harper Tories For Failing To Adhere To Do-not-call List Rules – Sept 7).

As an academic, several years ago I received training to work on a complicated system that various national survey organizations use. In the training, my colleagues and I were told, to our complete horror, that one could set the system so that it would not recognize a person’s “do not call” request until that person had been called three times and said “do not call” three times (or whatever minimum the system was set at). Apparently “no” still doesn’t mean “no” in some situations.

Áine Humble, Halifax


Float away

Canada is finally allowing Norway to retrieve Amundsen’s ship the Maud (Tugging A Long-Lost Ship Back To Its Homeland – Sept. 10).

We were starting to look like a prototypical dog in the manger – we don’t to spend any money on it but neither can Norway. Now, maybe the two nations can set an example for the rest of the world and agree to joint ownership of Hans Island.

Nick Kelly, Nanaimo, B.C.


Other end?

No wonder Margaret Wente’s typewriter jammed after being stuffed in the back of her mother’s Volkswagen Beetle (What I Learned At University – Sept. 8). That was the engine compartment!

Anthony Parfitt, Kingston

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