The sources cited in "a harvest of Treachery" (Jan. 9) are biased and unreliable and therefore lack credibility. They are former failed government officials with personal agendas, and their political motivations should be seriously questioned. The assertion that the problem of drug smugglers in Afghanistan is getting worse is unfounded. It overlooks significant progress as a result of President Hamid Karzai's leadership. The U.S. Office of National Drug Control Policy report reflects a 48 percent decline in the area used for poppy cultivation in 2005, largely due to President Karzai's appeal to farmers for self-restraint. In response to the No. 1 complaint from farmers, we have established a counternarcotics trust fund with the top priority of providing alternative livelihood assistance in rural Afghanistan. A counternarcotics judicial task force was established last year; more than 300 cases have been handled and more than 500 drug traffickers have been detained. Fighting drugs is a matter of national security for us. We do not tolerate wrongdoing by any official and will act vigorously, based on credible evidence. We are committed to taking all necessary measures to build on the progress made thus far. Despite our very limited resources, we will continue to do our part, reaching out to all stakeholders for assistance based on the realization that Afghanistan's drug problem is an international one that we need to fight together.
Said Tayeb Jawad
Ambassador of Afghanistan Washington, D.C.
Your profile of Shinzo Abe as the most likely candidate to succeed Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi next fall was most interesting ("Born to Run," who's next, Dec. 26/Jan. 2). Abe is top among right wingers who want to rewrite the Constitution, including our sacrosanct Article Nine that declares the permanent renunciation of violent settlement of international disputes. Abe was born after the last war so he has never experienced its misery personally. The long-held fear that when those who have not experienced war take charge, they might steer the nation on another course of violence has now become real. As one who experienced the war as a young boy, I'd like us to hold on to Article Nine. Even though my elder brother was killed in the battle of Saipan, I have never visited the Yasukuni Shrine because it still glorifies war. Also, in Japan, there are many hereditary politicians-- seshu-gin --like Koizumi who have a vested interest in keeping their positions. Unless we restrict hereditary passing on of political positions, we will not see any real change in Japanese politics.
Takahito (Ted) Miyazawa
When I read "Battle for America" (who's next), I could only smile and nod. At 17, I am a Republican Southern belle and was anti-Democrat throughout the Clinton era. However, this past summer I heard Mark Warner speak at a teen-leadership conference. He had me at hello! After his speech, I grilled him on economically depressed areas and funding for No Child Left Behind. He spent several minutes answering my questions and connected me with someone at the Virginia Department of Education. He has also worked hard to bring jobs to our community and has visited our town at least three times in the past two months. So, OK, these philanthropic actions may just be a ploy to win over a predominantly Republican state, and encourage people to vote for him in the 2008 election. But if it is, it works. Warner's theory that he "knows the key to winning Red State votes," as NEWSWEEK says, is correct.
Your interesting article about the "bright, young stars at next summer's World Cup" omitted the brightest star in today's worldwide soccer scene--Ronaldinho ("Beauty in the Beasts," who's next). Not only is he uber -talented, but he shows gratitude to be in the game, and that is more than we can say for our soccer male models or spoiled and reckless 19-year-olds.
Julie A. Georgiou
It was highly entertaining to read the first of what will be many previews on the much-awaited film version of "The Da Vinci Code" ("The 'Code' Breakers," who's next). You could almost smell the hype. You would think that the actual second coming of Christ was being filmed, judging by the anticipated box office. When can we expect "Da Vinci Code" action figures to start appearing at fast-food eateries nationwide?
My first experience with a Hollywood movie made from a book soured me forever on watching a film that was based on a novel I had read. I could not believe how sappy and far removed from my imagination the story line turned out to be. Over the years I came to realize that my concept of a book's value was far different from the moviemaker's pitiful renderings. Nonetheless, it is with great anticipation that I am looking forward to seeing "The Da Vinci Code" on screen and hope that the stellar cast and Ron Howard's direction will indeed be a pleasure for readers of the book to see.
Las Vegas, Nevada