Letters From the September 23, 2019, Issue

Letters From the September 23, 2019, Issue

Letters From the September 23, 2019, Issue

Attention must be paid… Not our man…


Attention Must Be Paid

I was very pleased to see that The Nation carried a cover story in its Aug. 26/Sept. 2 issue [“Peace Now?” by Jonathan Levi and Marta Orrantia] on the situation in Colombia. The article appropriately focused on the integration of former FARC guerrillas into civilian life after surrendering their firearms to United Nations monitors as part of the peace accords entered into with the government of President Juan Manuel Santos. The authors are correct to note that the successor administration of President Iván Duque has failed in several respects to fulfill the requirements that the peace agreement established. As the article points out, the government has not provided the resources needed to develop farm-to-market roads, educational facilities, and health clinics in rural areas.

One matter of importance that the article does not mention is that there are municipal elections throughout Colombia set for October 27. All of the mayors and municipal councils will be up for election on that date. What happens in these elections will have a profound effect on the success or failure of the peace agreement and, by extension, on future violence in much of the country. These elections occur at a moment when Duque’s public approval rating is below 40 percent, according to several recent polls.

Again, thank you for focusing on Colombia. It is enormously important for people in the United States to pay attention to developments in that country.

John I. Laun
Cofounder and program director Colombia Support Network
madison, wis.

Not Our Man

Thank you for David Klion’s fine review of George Packer’s Our Man: Richard Holbrooke and the End of the American Century [“The Unwinding,” Aug. 26/Sept. 2], which spares me from having to read the book because, as Klion writes, it might not be of much interest to those who do not find the stories of white, male, liberal boomers particularly interesting.

Additionally, I want to thank him for this sentence: “[These liberals] also helped birth disasters—the Iraq War and the 2008 financial crisis, to name the most obvious examples—on a scale that Trump has yet to match.” In our hyperpartisan era, plain statements of truth like this are brave and worth reminding those of us in the liberal bubble of their reality.

Robert Borneman

Yes, Scientists Are Human, Too

In her column “Sleazy Science” [Aug. 26/Sept. 2], Katha Pollitt asks, “Am I wrong to expect more of those we rely on to combat all of the nonsense swirling around us?” Yes, you are. Unfortunately, scientists are very prone to allowing emotions to distort their judgment, even as they toil in a realm best suited to logic. My wife is a scientist, and she has worked with many scientists who dismissed areas of inquiry for irrational reasons, falsified data, demonized or belittled their competitors, and so on. They are just people. Our collective ability to be rational and logical is really limited, including at the level of elite science.
Roger Felix


Peace Now?” by Jonathan Levi and Marta Orrantia [Aug. 26/Sept. 2] mistakenly states that Jorge Eliécer Gaitán was running for the Colombian presidency when he was assassinated in 1948. Though he ran for president in 1946, at the time of his death, he had not formally announced his candidacy in the next presidential race.

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