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IRA's Desire for a United Ireland

The editorial "Ulster: Time to Talk," Jan. 31, seems to assume that the British government can force the unionists to the negotiating table. It cannot. The Mitchell Commission envisaged gradual Irish Republican Army disarmament as the talks progress. But the IRA will only disarm if it thinks that it is gaining ground, through talks, toward its objective of a united republican Ireland.

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The IRA wants a united Ireland; the unionists wish to remain British. While democracy prevails, the unionists will have their way. Despite the "peace," there has been no change in the fundamental and irreconcilable positions of the two sides.

The Mitchell Commission, by recommending that talks begin now, whereupon some decommissioning of IRA arms might follow, came down, in effect, on the Irish nationalist side. As most Americans seem incapable of understanding the unionist desire to remain British, this was not surprising.

Paul Rowlandson

Londonderry, Northern Ireland

Helping Haiti secure its future

Thank you for the article "Aristide to Pass Baton and Keep Running," Feb. 7.

I worked with the Organization of American States as an election monitor during the elections that brought Rene Preval to power. Although voter turnout was no higher in these past elections than turnout in other democratic countries, Haiti is on the road to selecting its own leaders and securing a future based on self-determination. Why are fellow democratic countries dropping the ball now, threatening that unless Haitians follow their lead on how to build their country, foreign aid will be withheld? Haitians have worked hard to arrive at this point and need our continued support to overcome their problems as the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. USAID needs to be pressured to release unconditionally Haiti's $4.6 million in US aid.

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Abby Eaton

San Francisco

Global Exchange

Hollywood's dominating culture

I enjoyed the front-page article "It's 'Piano' vs. 'Jurassic Park' in Movie Joust," Feb. 7.

Having formerly worked in the film and broadcast industry in Canada, I appreciated reading about the struggles that other cultures have in protecting themselves from the dominant US media. For most countries around the world, "Hollywood" has two meanings. It is often seen as a metaphor for a glamorized American culture and, though made up of a number of large companies, it also represents a dominating force in the international media industry.

It's natural that countries such as Canada and Malaysia want to protect themselves from dominant US cultural messages. The battle with Hollywood is but a global extension of the marketplace struggle going on in each of our countries, where the corner shops find it difficult to compete with large conglomerates.

If our cultures are both truly distinct and worth preserving, we will find a way to survive not only in our own marketplace, but in a world marketplace. Because we cannot sell "glamour," we must focus on a product that reaches people's hearts and minds. We have a competitive edge on small-budget films because they carry strong messages, and our artists, directors, and writers have the ingenuity to make powerful films.

Though satellite broadcasting will eventually bring down many international media barriers, it is not the quotas on television viewership that will protect us from being dominated by Hollywood culture - it is the strength and appreciation of our own people. These qualities will invigorate our small media industries. More today than ever before we are seeing each other's finest works. In every country we are all slowly developing the balance of appreciation for our own and others' cultures, including America.

Rob Sherman


Your letters are welcome. For publication they must be signed and include your address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. Letters should be addressed to "Readers Write" and may be sent by mail to One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, by fax to 617-450-2317, or by Internet e-mail (200 words maximum) to OPED@RACHEL.CSPS.COM.

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