Reading your cover story about the Egyptian uprising made me nostalgic [The Revolution, Feb. 14]. Twenty-five years ago, I was one of the millions participating in the Philippines' revolution that toppled longtime President Ferdinand Marcos. The revolution was successful and Cory Aquino became President. The rest was a roller-coaster ride. Revolution may be justified as the last recourse to instigate reforms, but the people should not forget that changes may not come as dramatically as they expect. Revolution is about freedom and democracy, and with those, changes will follow.
Jose Rico R. Laurel, ANKARA
Washington fed the Mubarak regime extremely well for three decades in exchange for its peaceful coexistence with Israel. Now the U.S. wants to support reform and promote democracy in the Middle East, but at what price? Not all revolutions lead to democracy. Poor people have to be given sufficient food, proper education, basic health care and good shelter before they can appreciate the democratic concept. Democracy is not a commodity that can be bought. Pouring in more money may just create another autocrat. Only the right kind of education for everyone can bring about true reform.
Zi-zenn Chaan, EASTWOOD, AUSTRALIA
It took the U.S. 30 years to find out it backed the wrong horse. Mubarak and his cronies have shown their true colors as a bunch of despots. The Muslim Brotherhood is to be commended for conducting themselves with such dignity and forbearance. Democracy will win without fail.
Ronen Ghose, MILTON KEYNES, ENGLAND
Thank you for your insightful analysis of Egypt's revolution. If pro-Western leaders in Cairo were to be replaced by Islamic fundamentalists, it would certainly spell disaster for Israel, and concurrently agitate the Muslim world to a greater height. All this would make 2011 an extremely unsettling year. We cannot afford to be complacent.
Yuri Czekov, MOSCOW
Realism vs. Idealism
In "Does Safety Trump Democracy?" Joe Klein asks, "How on earth do we get saddled with such creepy clients as Karzai and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, over and over again?" [Feb. 14]. Americans get saddled with such creepy clients because they want puppets in strategic areas. It was the same with the Shah of Iran. Don't Americans ever learn? Or do they not care because the mess is in some Muslim country?
Surangika Senanayake, BUCKLANDS BEACH, NEW ZEALAND
Klein rightly hammers at the American assumption that democracy is a cure-all. Klein refers to democracy in Turkey. It is worth noting that Turkey's democracy owes much to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, a benevolent dictator who concentrated on education and social empowerment and thus made his people ready for democracy.
Ravindra Shetye, MUMBAI
I always admire Klein's well-written and factual articles. However, I very much disagree with his statement that "strong armies create security, a necessary precursor for democracy." First, Egypt must solve its problems with strong government and decisive leadership, not an army. Second, this is a perfect opportunity for the U.S. to demonstrate its goodwill via the Peace Corps. Now is the opportunity to seize the moment to promote peace, which we failed to do in the 1970s. It is not too late.
Michael Sandomeno, LUCERNE, SWITZERLAND
The Right Legacy
Re "Her Father's Daughter" [Feb. 14]: Marine Le Pen is more attractive than her politician father, Jean-Marie Le Pen, and is a very good speaker. That is why she is much more dangerous than her dad. Behind her seemingly moderate speeches are her father's radical ideas. Most French students think she is a real threat to the country. If she manages to make her way through the second round of the presidential elections, it will reinforce to many that France has really lost its luster.
Anissa Desuzinge, LA GARDE, FRANCE
Re "Taming Shanghai's Sprawl" [Feb. 14]: For many days, weeks and even months, the city of Shanghai and nearly all of eastern China is covered under a thick layer of ugly brown smog. People wait desperately for thunderstorms or typhoons, hoping for some movement in the air, all for just one or two days of blue sky after the storm passes. Since these are the conditions in which Shanghai is starting its eco-friendly redevelopment experiment, we have to wonder how it will work out. Is this just another Chinese bubble?
Peter Pichler, VIENNA
Redevelopment of the Shanghai World Expo area is a model experiment for sustainable living, but it risks failure if people do not embrace eco-friendly lifestyles. During a school exchange to Taizhou in 2010, I noticed that ways of thinking often do not touch on green issues. Up to a third of the local students went to school by scooter, even if the distance was short, and a school-bus system was nonexistent. A lack of waste separation was another problem. I was surprised how confused my Chinese exchange partner was, during her stay in Germany, on seeing four or five different dustbins at German homes. Work to create the Shanghai project is just one step among many needed in China.
Michelle Hattemer, OBER-OLM, GERMANY