You have painted an unusually vibrant picture of Burma, thinking that the junta would reverse gear to open up the isolated nation for good ["A New Hope," Dec. 12]. This could be premature, considering the flip-flop past of the recalcitrant regime. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit would further boost the image of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, the iron lady who is preparing for a glamorous return. The question is how and when.
I noticed some changes in Rangoon during my recent visit better business, more tourists and free movement around. The new Burmese leader, Thein Sein, is seen as a peaceful and approachable person. He has made contacts with Suu Kyi to work out a feasible road map for the nation's joint government and development. Moreover, Clinton's extraordinary visit and meeting with Suu Kyi would certainly add weight to the coming reform. Let there be a new Burma.
Reform in Russia?
It is dangerous to assume that it's too early for a Russian Spring ["Russia's New Guard," Dec. 12]. Reason, values, morals, human knowledge and a people's collective unhappiness are what bring about change. When people are unhappy with a situation, they are critical of it. When they are critical, the government can either ride it, move for reforms or be repressive. Predictably, Vladimir Putin chooses the latter. There is a young and new generation of Russians that does not seem keen on the old tunes.
Cosmas Uzoma Odoemena,
It is difficult to say whether Putin's era is over. He has provided Russia with a great dose of economic stability, which was totally necessary, but probably not sufficient for most Russians. Unfortunately, deep problems like corruption and abuse of power have emerged, leading to a modern kind of plutocracy that is commonly known as state capitalism. Let us hope that relevant people in charge commit themselves to the progress of their own country.
The only thing that could change Russia's political petrification would be a kind of Russian Spring that would have the potential of a historic uprising of unprecedented proportions. Putin is not Russia's solution, but part of the problem.
Karl H. Pagac,
The Pakistan Problem
What a brilliant analysis of U.S. foreign policy in Pakistan by Fareed Zakaria ["Friends Without Benefits," Dec. 12]. No country is more anti-American than Pakistan. By supporting Pakistan to serve its foreign policy, the U.S. is building up wellsprings of poison and anti-Americanism within its society that one day will erupt. Is there anything more to say?
Wappingers Falls, N.Y., U.S.
Zakaria failed to distinguish between a Pakistani who is anti-American and one who is anti American foreign policy. As a common Pakistani, I would like to stress that Pakistanis are not anti-American; on the contrary, they aspire to have a country like America, which is the land of opportunity. It's the American foreign policy that they don't agree with, and that's their democratic right.
What Pakistan does is called duplicity, what the U.S. does is called looking after its geopolitical interests.
Raja M. Kaiqobad,
I read Zakaria's Worldview with interest. Unfortunately, the situation with U.S.-Pakistan relations is so hopelessly convoluted in its dysfunction that even a normally solid thinker like Zakaria lapses into circular logic in trying to deal with it. First he argues that there is no need to be concerned about the possibility of Pakistan's nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands in the event of the collapse of the government, since they are in the hands of the military and the military controls the government. Later he says Americans "cozy up to the military and overlook its destruction of democracy. The only way to get real cooperation is by helping Pakistan move from being a military state to being a more normal country." Unanswered is the obvious question: What happens to the nukes when the military no longer controls the government?
Plattsburgh, N.Y., U.S.
Re "Where Is the Love?" [Dec. 12]: I'm a 90-year-old Republican who votes in every election. I read TIME cover to cover. And all seven pages of the article on Mitt Romney gave me the feeling that Joe Klein, skillful writer that he is, is hard-pressed to find negatives about this man. Saying the GOP has the least-qualified field in years is the best he could do. He criticizes Romney's speaking style of rotating to the right then to the left like a lawn sprinkler. Had Romney stood still, would Klein have said he was like a statue?
Huntington Beach, Calif., U.S.