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Democratic tendencies

June 20, 2007

Re "Democracy isn't dead," editorial, June 15

Democratic ideals are good, but they must be accompanied by some pragmatism when they are introduced into environments where the cultural preconditions for democracy are as yet undeveloped. An infant grows to adulthood on a timetable fixed by nature. Adult democracy requires a childhood and adolescence before it can function fully. The process needs some parental supervision encouraging a gradual maturation of the culture to a level where democracy will fit. If the culture won't adapt, then democracy is inappropriate. We have seen the proof in Iraq. Democracy is far from sacred; it is a man-made system, and as such its job is to enhance its environment and complement it. Some environments are incompatible with some systems, and that is just the way it is.

JACK DEVINE

Torrance

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Re "Communism's grim toll," Opinion, June 16

Robert Service manages a neat sleight of hand by dividing the world into communist countries and democracies. This lets him duck the question of how many lives were taken by anti-communist dictators -- most of them actively supported by the United States -- over the same period. None of those countries were as big as China or the Soviet Union, and his point might still hold, but a fair equation would include places like Argentina and Zaire on our side of the balance.

ELIJAH WALD

Los Angeles

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