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Chechnya Is Better Off As Part of Russia

Your reference to "the 19th century Chechen struggle to resist absorption by the Russian empire" has nothing to do with the current conflict; that fight finished long ago ("Chechnya: Time for the West to pressure Putin," European Business, Nov. 11). Chechens and Russians have lived amicably together: Chechens studied in Russian universities; Russians provided an equal level of education to every boy and girl in every small Chechen village. The Chechen government closed schools, except those supported by Islamic fundamentalists. Chechens were free to follow any religion or be atheist; with the Chechen government, they can't. Certainly, Chechens had more options in Russia than in an independent Chechnya.

Who needs "freedom fighters" and national independence that provides fewer options and less individual freedom? Actually, Russians were ready to leave them in their medieval state if they had not become a danger to all Russian civilians. Chechnya actually had that independence. [Former President Boris] Yeltsin did not control anything. Now, if the Russian army went away, Russian civilians still wouldn't have peace. All of the recent events show it.

Kate Pliss

Moscow Re "Is the pen finally mightier than the keyboard?" (Information Technology, Nov. 11): For many years, I have been using the Cross Pad digital notepad that is powered by IBM software. Many years ago, I showcased the A.T. Cross [pen manufacturers] product to Compaq Computer Corp. in Munich, and though several of those around the table bought one for personal use, they, like IBM, thought it was not a technology the consumer would like to buy.

Perhaps this is a case where Cross and IBM dipped a toe in the water and, finding it too cold, abandoned the concept. Has Bill Gates once again recognized the next paradigm shift? Or is the Establishment correct after all? Who, apart from me, wants a PC that has the functionality of a piece of paper?

Gerald Michaluk

Glasgow Re "GM food: Why fight labeling?" (American News, Nov. 11): It's not possible for the food industry to educate the public about the safety and benefits of genetic modification [of foods] because: a) It is not safe, one reason being that uncontrolled genetic recombination may eventually turn harmless plants into dangerous ones or create new varieties of lethal viruses; b) There are no benefits, especially when considering the long-term catastrophic impact on biodiversity and sustainable agriculture; and c) Nobody with any sense would mistake food industry communication for education. It's propaganda, and given the huge vested interests, it's going to stay that way for a long time.

Vincent Verschoore

Donzy-le-National, France "Marching into the unknown" (European Business, Oct. 21) said "[Georgia's] GDP per capita is three times lower than Russia's." If a GDP per capita of $1,500 goes up to $4,500, it is correct to say that it has increased three times, but the reverse is one-third, not three times less. This is probably the case for your comparison: Georgia's GDP per capita is a third of Russia's.

Guillermo Marquez

Nicosia, Cyprus

Editor's note: The writer is correct. Neil Hardwick ("Bush's foreign policy: Righteous or reckless?" Readers Report, Oct. 28, on "Foreign policy: Bush is half right," American News: Oct. 7) trots out the usual British attack on the honorable record of U.S. foreign policy in Ireland. Intervention by the Clinton Administration and unstinting work by farseeing members of Congress and the Senate leveled the playing field in Ireland. Without the U.S. pushing its long-standing British ally toward a political settlement, there would be no peace process today. Now, there's hope that Irish and British people can live together in equality and in peace.

God bless U.S. foreign policy. I'm sure many people in Afghanistan, Bosnia, and Iraq feel the same way. And I'm sure most Somalians wish the U.S. had persisted there a bit longer.

Cadogan Enright


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