'We’ve seen how low American diplomacy has sunk': Maclean's letters

Maclean's readers write in


With the blank look of America’s presidential spouse holding a sign with its useless hashtag (“Does America really care?” International, June 2), we’ve seen how low American diplomacy has sunk. Just as hitting ‘Like’ on Facebook provides a delusional dose of false self-esteem, all hashtags are self-serving attempts by the intellectually lazy to appear relevant. Once faded from the news, the Nigerian girls will be forgotten, and an emboldened Boko Haram will pick up where they left off. All this, despite the fact that, while secretary of state, Hillary Clinton refused to designate Boko Haram a terrorist group, despite numerous calls from the CIA, FBI, Justice Department, as well as many members of the U.S. Congress, to do just that.

– Timothy Rollins, Toronto

While not a big fan of U.S. foreign policy, I feel that your cover headline, “America’s hypocrisy,” was unreasonable. What would you have the American government do about or to Nigeria, a sovereign nation? And what should it do about Zimbabwe, North Korea, Syria and other cruel, rogue states: attack them? Give the U.S. a break!

– Guy P. French, Toronto

Your inflammatory cover line—“America’s hypocrisy”—is entirely contrary to the contents of the article. Michael Petrou writes that the Nigerian government has not asked for any outside aid, since it does not want to be perceived as weak; since the government has not been overthrown, there is no “legitimate” reason for international military intervention. Also, any sanctions imposed would only impact the innocent people of Nigeria, not Boko Haram, and would give Boko Haram more ammunition to continue its fight against the government. Does anyone really believe that Western celebrities and politicians flashing “Bring back our girls” signs would make the slightest difference to Boko Haram? Also, Nigeria is not encouraging international sympathy since, according to news sources, if, or when, these unfortunate girls are released, their own communities will continue their torment by declaring them unclean and sending them away from their families in shame (assuming, probably rightfully, that they have been “violated”). So whose hypocrisy is it: the West’s or the Nigerian government’s?

– Lois Todd, Elmwood, Ont.

If American celebrities care so much about Nigerian girls —and they should—where are they with the gun control problem in their own country? I have yet to see outrage from this group about the more than 11,000 people who are killed by guns in their country every year, not to mention the slaughter of 20 schoolchildren in Connecticut. Why are they so selective and insensitive about larger problems in their own country?

– David Ablett, Peterborough, Ont.

Why would we be worried, militarily, about Boko Haram? Same reason why we didn’t do anything in Ethiopia and Somalia: Show us the money. If there isn’t any money, oil or other exports—or threats to any of the above—why would we get involved? We don’t get involved with any conflict unless it directly affects our way of life. It is all about following the money, and, I hate to tell you, there is no money to be made in 200 kidnapped schoolgirls.

– Chris Mills, Thunder Bay, Ont.

I wonder how long Michelle Obama spent in front of the mirror cooking up her expression of equal parts sadness and compassion along with a side order of assertiveness and stern disapproval? This pat and feckless attempt to address the horror experienced daily by innocent Africans at the hands of Islamic terrorists is insulting at best. It is a symptom of a society enamoured with social media that feeds our desire to broadcast a carefully constructed image of ourselves to the world. Judging from the vacuous expressions of the celebrities participating in the #BringBackOurGirls campaign, this slogan would be more aptly renamed #BringBackOurSouls.

– Jessica Munharvey, Ottawa


Bring on the missile defence

As stated in your story “Star Wars, the sequel” (International, May 26): “This is not Ronald Reagan’s 1980s Strategic Defence Initiative, known as Star Wars.” The anti-missile defence shield is quite realistic and technologically sound; indeed, one need only note the success of the Patriot missiles stationed around Israel during Desert Storm, the first time they were used during actual warfare. Now, rogue nations such as North Korea could try to find other means to compensate for their new great disadvantage in missile warfare. A good means of avoiding such countermeasures would be to ensure all parties that the anti-missile defence shield would be independently programmed to intercept all airborne projectiles regardless of their origin. The system would monitor the planet’s airspace and launch anti-missile defensive measures. As for those who say such a shield would be too expensive: Just how much is Earth and humanity worth?

– Frank Sterle Jr., White Rock, B.C.


Can’t avoid abortion debate

While I agree with Justin Trudeau’s philosophy of pro-choice and that of Colby Cosh’s article on abortion issues (“Why Trudeau made the right choice,” June 2), but for Trudeau to say that from now on every member of the Liberal party must be pro-choice is a step backward in time. I am pro-choice, but will defend the rights of others to have their views recognized, voiced, considered for debate and definitely not stifled under a dictatorial order from a would-be leader of the country. To do so would be akin to removing a cornerstone from the house of democracy—a step toward a Chinese-style government that he seems to admire.

– Brian Mellor, Picton, Ont.

Colby Cosh says Canada does well to “stay away from abortion.” He speaks of a woman’s right to even a late-term abortion and supports the law that prioritizes her “own priorities and aspirations.” As for me “staying away from abortion,” as Cosh advises, would be a whole heck of a lot easier if I wasn’t forced (against my “priorities and aspirations”) to pay for each and every abortion in my province as a taxpayer.

– Dayna Mazzuca, Victoria

Is Colby Cosh really arguing that we, ostrich-like, ought not to make laws related to abortion because of the “hard cases” that would ensue? If so, I would remind him that any important ethical and legal issue is a hard case. The very absence of a legal consensus related to abortion cries out for a legislative response.

– Edwin Buettner, Winnipeg


Not wanted, bon voyage

Was it wise to create Canadian laws prohibiting the government from removing illegal residents who could face cruel and unusual punishment in their home countries (“Wanted, but not here,” National, June 2)? Why are judges so adamant in protecting suspected war criminals, gangsters and other dangerous immigrants with infinite processes and at great cost to Canadians? We shouldn’t accommodate the cliché argument about someone “facing torture if deported.” Canada’s peaceful domain isn’t a repository for the world’s worst villains. There are more appropriate humanitarian initiatives that Canadians can and do get involved in.

Richard Courtemanche, Ottawa


Helping mothers to know best

The Maternal, Newborn and Child Heath (MNCH) meeting was meant to showcase the federal government’s visibility as a champion of foreign aid in general, and maternal and child health specifically (“A matter of life and death,” National, June 2). For this, the Conservatives deserve credit. But our government remains dogmatic and influenced by poor scientific evidence regarding family planning (FP) in its MNCH support. FP is not only about population control, but also serves as an essential component of providing an improved quality of life for both the mother and the child. It serves significantly as an antidote to potential abortions and other childbirth-related complications. Also, we need to strengthen MNCH strategies among our Native communities, where the infant mortality rate remains unacceptably high. Governments attempting to help other countries need to recognize shortcomings at home.

– Bongs Lainjo, Montreal


The cost of milk

So our supply-management system inflates dairy prices (“Consumers are being milked,” Economy, June 2)? Give me a break: Milk is so inexpensive. I can get four litres of it for $4.49. Compare that to $4 for 1.89 litres of soy milk. As a vegan, I’m all too aware of the source of the so-called “efficiencies” in dairy farming—it’s known as abusive factory farming. If any dairy is genuinely expensive it’s due to the cost of humane care (e.g. at an organic farm). If anything, that should be the only legal kind of milk to protect animals as much as possible if our culture remains determined to be obsessed with dairy.

– Amy Soule, Hamilton

The story about inflation (“Inflated expectations,” Economy, June 2) that immediately follows Martha Hall Findlay’s article about supply management notes that “some basic food items have spiked in price: Fresh fruit is up nearly nine per cent from last year and fresh vegetables more than five per cent.” Beef and pork have recently risen by double-digit amounts. These food items are not supply-managed. By contrast, food items in the supply-managed categories have experienced much more stable pricing.

– Terry Shannon, Port Alberni, B.C.


It’s all about P.K.

A person cannot improve themselves if they have no humility (“Who does P.K. Subban think he is?” Society, June 2). If you think you are a superstar and everything you do is perfect, then why would you ever change a thing? P.K. Subban’s problem is not that he disrespects the game or the way it should be played. P.K.’s issue is that everything P.K. does is about him and not about the team. P.K. acts as though he is bigger than the team, and that’s where the issues start.

David Rohr, Montreal

Baseball Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean once said, “It ain’t braggin’ if you can do it.” P.K.’s detractors can’t get their heads around a black hockey superstar. As for Craig Rivet, the former Montreal Canadien who lectured Subban on his behaviour, no one can recall anything he ever did on the ice.

– John Knight, Oak Bay, B.C.



In “Judging mental pain” (Society, June 9), comments made by lawyer Susan Vella in relation to the personal-injury cap were in reference to sexual abuse cases only.