Backtalk

Sanctioning the Sanctions

Thank you for Chuck Sudetic’s heartbreaking and gut-wrenching story on the effects of U.S.-backed sanctions on Iraq (“The Betrayal of Basra,” November/December). Little has appeared in the mainstream media about the devastating impact of the sanctions. Their sheer folly and immorality are evident to all–except our decision makers in Washington. I hope they at least read this report.

Christopher Flores
Oakland, California

Did the State Department vet this article? Whatever credibility Mother Jones had as a radical voice was swept away on this tide of American propaganda. The fact that the rest of the world sees America as complicit in the mass slaughter of Iraqi children — a point your correspondent makes and then dismisses as irrelevant — may have something to do with the fact that the American government is complicit. Sure, Saddam is a bad guy, as are many other Western-supported leaders in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and elsewhere. But the best thing that the United States can do now is leave them alone to resolve their own problems — just as America is left alone to resolve its problems. (Did we see international “democracy police” in Florida last November?) This is precisely the type of Western involvement, well intentioned or otherwise, that has blighted the developing world for more than a century.

David J. Nolan
Washington, D.C.


 

Foul Fish

Bruce Barcott’s article on factory salmon farms (“Aquaculture’s Troubled Harvest,” November/December) was right on target. But there is another dirty little secret: In Maine, the industry has operated in blatant violation of the federal Clean Water Act for 15 years, while the epa has turned a blind eye. We are suing three multinational firms for illegally discharging pesticides, fish waste, and other pollutants without permits. This lawless behavior is particularly serious now that a deadly farm-spread fish disease has appeared in the United States, threatening Maine’s endangered wild Atlantic salmon.

Josh Kratka
National Environmental Law Center
Boston, Massachusetts

The debate over salmon farming has been polarized, with little or no constructive dialogue, and your article does little to help. Salmon aquaculture was practiced in the Pacific Northwest for more than 100 years before farmers began growing fish in net pens for profit. Admittedly, salmon farming has faced environmental and other challenges like any other new industry — but by and large, salmon farmers in British Columbia and Washington are professional operators who take their environmental responsibilities seriously.

Odd Grydeland
B.C. Salmon Farmers Association
Campbell River, British Columbia


 

Addicts and Advocates

Your article “Surgical Strike” (November/December) quotes people who look at our organization, Children Requiring a Caring Kommunity (crack), as anti-poor and anti-black because we offer drug addicts $200 to accept long-term birth control or sterilization so they won’t produce more addicted babies. An naacp official says, “How can you come in and say that you are concerned with the welfare of the mothers&#133?” Good question. We don’t say we’re concerned with the welfare of the mothers. crack’s mission is to stop them from having more doomed babies.

As for Chris Brand, “the British psychologist who is working to expand crack overseas,” that’s news to me. I talked to him once and thought he was pretty strange. His ideas about blacks being inferior aren’t welcome to me. Still, if this man causes crack to work overseas, fine. I care about results. His motives are his own business.

Barbara Harris
crack
Stanton, California

As a bleeding-heart liberal, I am surprised to find myself on the same side of an issue as Laura Schlessinger and Richard Mellon Scaife. However, that does not cause me to waver in my support for encouraging female drug addicts to become sterilized. To me, this issue is as clear as my pro-choice stance: I am for abortion and reproductive rights for all women primarily because I believe no child should enter this world unwanted. Perhaps what is really bothering some of my fellow liberals is that these poor, drug-sick women are willing to give up their reproductive rights for so cheap a price.

Melinda Young
Tryon, North Carolina


 

Snow Job

Thanks so much for telling the story of the Snowbasin land exchange and the duplicity of Utah’s congressional delegation in using the Olympics to justify it (“Olympic Windfall,” November/December). I might add that the same bill that authorized the land exchange also expanded the ski area into a Forest Service roadless area. The forest is a mile from the ski runs, yet the expansion was somehow deemed necessary for the Olympics. As Rep. James Hansen recently bragged, “We’ve played that Olympic card so much I’m almost embarrassed.”

Dan Schroeder
Ogden, Utah