Letters: A Brutal Bombing

Our Oct. 28 cover story on terrorism's many fronts led readers to vent their outrage over the Bali attack. Indonesia, wrote one, "will do its best to curb further terrorism." Another cried, "Where's the opposition from thinking Muslims?" A third sent in an eyewitness account of the victims' suffering.

The Bombing of Bali

I was bemused to see Indonesia sandwiched between Iraq and North Korea over your Oct. 28 cover line ("Where Next for America's War on Terror?"). Does this mean that we are now including the mysterious and fabled archipelago within the so-called Axis of Evil? I'm sure I speak for most expats living here (try asking those who live in either Iraq or North Korea!) that, while the present Indonesian government may be slow to react to a number of threats--economic, political or whatever--it will do the best it can in curbing further terrorism. The Indonesian population has just about had enough and would expect no less. Any sort of help would be useful. Bad press is worse than useless.
Graeme Fleming
Lombok, Indonesia

Indonesia, home to the largest Muslim population in the world, has been delivered an unimaginable blow both physically and financially. Bali, a huge money spinner and source of employment, has been wiped off the tourist circuit--not too many people are likely to go there for a relaxing beach holiday any time soon. A lucrative industry has been virtually crippled in a country that can scarcely afford such a blow. So, where are the voices of reason and condemnation from Muslim countries? Are Islamic extremists to be allowed to roam the world without any groundswell of opposition from thinking Muslims? Are they all so terrorized that they can't speak up? Until now, it was the "wicked" West that was the target of their terrible deeds. Now it is one of their own, Indonesia. Who will they blame for this one?
Neville Velkes
Herzliyya Petuach, Israel

The bombing in Bali and the revelation of a North Korean nuclear-arms program combine to make troubling times even more disturbing. The United States should, once and for all, refrain from proclaiming any further axes of evil. They simply do not exist, which, admittedly, does not make life any easier. The strike on Bali did not target Americans, it slew Australians, Indonesians, Britons, a German and who knows how many other innocent people from various other countries. Amid all the anguish and confusion, though, the time has come to sit down together and talk seriously about some viable political approaches to tackling the threats and dangers confronting us all.
Werner Radtke
Paderborn, Germany

I believe that the terrorist bombing that took place in Bali is just a preview of what is yet to come. Are the responsible parties ever going to be found and punished? I don't think so. Will President Bush urge Indonesia to be patient and show restraint as he tells Israel to do?
Maksim Y. Neyman
Folsom, California

To those who committed the atrocity in Bali, I wish that after exploding your bomb, instead of running away, you had come to the hospital in Sanglah where I helped out in the first couple of days. If you had done so, you would have seen corpses that were beyond recognition lying on the floor outside; others, with their eyes open and still smiling, who must have died instantaneously. I wish you had seen them and smelled them. Inside you would have heard people with burn wounds crying. You would have heard the father who told me, "I'm burned and in pain, but please try to find my wife and daughter." You'd have seen the devastated young boy who'd just identified his Swedish girlfriend at the morgue and kept wondering if this was not a nightmare. And those anxious parents who flew in from Australia, arriving in the middle of the night to ask if we had any news of their daughter--I wish you'd seen them, too: otherwise, this will just be statistics for you--"x dead, y injured." Without seeing, smelling or hearing this, you'll have no remorse and your hate will continue to result in insanity.
Stefaan Vancolen
Surabaya, Indonesia

Connectivity: Fad or Fix?

Your Sept. 2 article "Dot Com Fix" (Special Report) illustrates just why development is not working: Western fads and concepts are often implemented without asking the community for their input. I'd bet that the instances where connectivity has improved living conditions are isolated indeed. I work in development in Togo and I see firsthand the results of ridiculous ideas like this one. Does the community want the Internet? I took the time to ask and was told that they would like latrines, better roads, deeper wells, a library, a pharmacy, a local market. The reason Internet access was not mentioned is because the people that drive this economy--women--cannot read or write, or speak French or English. For these people to use the Internet to improve their living conditions is not a reality. A German NGO opened a new Internet cafe here (again, without asking the community) which is being used almost exclusively by men to view pornography at all hours of the day. Every Internet cafe I've visited is used primarily for pornography. Loosening sexual mores is the last thing that Africa needs right now. Our community already had an Internet cafe run by a Togolese entrepreneur; now, the new cafe's low, subsidized prices are hurting his income. Better use of the Internet could have been encouraged if the German workers had stayed in town long enough to teach people, set prices higher to discourage frivolous use, or assisted the Togolese entrepreneur to improve his business. Development is no quick fix. It must be implemented at the grass-roots level by a community taught to do so. That, to my mind, is the definition of sustainability.
Nancy Clarkson
Sokode, Togo

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