I was fascinated by the article on Sergio Marchionne, the boss of Fiat and Chrysler, and how he has turned around the fortunes of these great car companies ["Power Steering," Dec. 19]. One thing not mentioned in the article is the fact that Chrysler's right-hand-drive versions are selling very well in Australia and are everywhere on our roads. Under Marchionne's direction, Chrysler seems to be leading a new revolution in American automaking.
Brighton East, Australia
I understand that he was focused on Marchionne's positive efforts in restoring lifeblood to Chrysler, but writer Bill Saporito should have at least mentioned that at Fiat the story isn't quite so optimistic, as evidenced by a decline in sales in Italy. This decline was not just the result of the E.U. debt crisis; it was also caused by the company's failure to design a successful car model besides the Fiat 500. Also, your timing in publishing this panegyric could not have been worse, as it was just a few weeks after the closure of a Fiat factory in Sicily that resulted in job losses for many workers.
Bobby Ghosh's Commentary piece "Why Islamists Are Better Democrats" is quite superficial [Dec. 19]. My understanding of democracy is not merely having free and fair elections every four or five years. It is the entrenchment of basic human rights, equality and freedom of expression. Some practical implementation of such rights are that citizens are not punished for their sexual orientation, women are given equal opportunity to seek work, and religious beliefs such as Hinduism and Buddhism are allowed to thrive alongside Islam. While the Arab Spring has allowed the shuffling of power by democratic elections, it has certainly not resulted in the freedom that many of us experience in a democratic state.
True democrats should not be judged by how they win elections but by how they transfer power when they lose them. In a democracy, various political parties take turns having power. Will the Islamist parties take turns with the liberals and peacefully hand over power to those they consider heretics? Will those who claim authority as the will of God obey the will of mere mortals? Unlikely.
Ghosh cites Turkey as the shining example of a functioning democracy with an Islamist party in power, but Turkey has a well-established separation of church and state, and the vast majority of Turkish citizens are secular and educated. The same cannot be said of any of the Arab countries of the region. The fact that the Islamist parties were better organized and better at electioneering does in no way make them better democrats; it simply indicates that they have been politically active for many years and they know very well what appeals to the ignorant, largely illiterate majority.
The headline "Feasting on Europe" suggests that China is exploiting European countries [Dec. 19]. On the contrary, countries like France and Italy want earnestly some kind of help from China. Buying and selling are common trading activities that rich countries do every day. As long as it is done fairly, no one would care that the buyer is Chinese or Indian. Americans would have done the same, buying businesses that are worth buying, and selling them when they are not making money. Now that the U.S. has financial problems at home, why not let the Chinese help activate the stagnant market?
The Europeans colonized Asia by brutal means and divided and ruled its peoples for many centuries. The colonists robbed those nations of their prized assets. China is at least buying them at a time when the Europeans need money most.
The Amazon Held Hostage
Re "Rain Forest for Ransom" [Dec. 19]: I have been wondering when someone was going to hold the world ransom over global warming. Now that Ecuador has done so, it will not be long before other countries come to the table with similar demands. The root cause of increased greenhouse gases and demand for energy is the ever growing world population. The only real solution, which must be faced sooner or later, is to reduce population growth.
Botha's Hill, South Africa
Cameron Is No Thatcher
Catherine Mayer's parallels between Margaret Thatcher and David Cameron are fundamentally flawed ["What Would Thatcher Do?" Dec. 19]. As Prime Minister, Thatcher enjoyed a substantial parliamentary majority; Cameron has no majority and is in coalition with the Liberal Democrats. Cameron does not have the freedom of action that Thatcher enjoyed.