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Close rivals

The role of Afghanistan’s close neighbors is missing from most analyzes of what happens when America withdraws its troops (“1989 and all that ”, June 12). Iran is arguably the most benign. Apart from a dispute over the Herat River, the Iranians seek peaceful relations with their neighbor, wish to protect Shiite, Tajik and Hazara groups, victims of the Taliban massacres, and suppress drug trafficking, which is proving devastating for Iranian cities. . youth. Iran has effectively supported NATOintervention in 2001. She is delighted with the departure of America, but remains extremely suspicious of the Sunni Taliban and has no interest in stirring up disorder.

Pakistan, unfortunately, has convinced itself that Afghanistan represents a strategic depth in its existential struggle with India. This is not so much territorial as in terms of the ability to attract Pashtuns to the Durand Line to attack India. That he could hold this view, while simultaneously waging vicious military campaigns in Waziristan to suppress other groups of Pashtun Islamist extremists, demonstrates a fundamental ambivalence that haunted the 20-year campaign. After the latest US-Taliban talks, the latter flew directly to Islamabad to brief Pakistani officials.

In addition to securing the finances of the Afghan government, perhaps the West’s most important task is to draw these countries into constructive dialogues, to exert pressure where they can, such as Pakistan, and possibly. be to ease the pressures elsewhere, such as Iran.

Defense Attaché, Kabul 2008-10
Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire

The secret to Tesla’s success

You soberly reminded investors in new electric vehicle companies that car manufacturing at the turn of the 20th century was “littered with defunct brands” (“Chasing Tesla”, June 5). Indeed, a plan for startups “vying to follow in Elon Musk’s tire tracks” includes one vital missing among the three you mentioned (finding a starting niche; producing cars at scale; and creating a sales, repair and distribution network). The dirty secret behind Tesla’s success is clean credits. Several states now require automakers to sell a fixed percentage of zero-emission vehicles. Since most fail, they have to buy regulatory credits from companies like Tesla. In fact, without such credit sales, Tesla would have recorded a net loss instead of a profit in 2020. Profits might depend less on car sales and more on credit sales.

Pacific Grove, California

Culture shock

I found Bagehot’s column revisiting the two cultures of CP Snow inspiring (June 19). In 2007, the Royal Society received £ 2million ($ 2.8million) to start an investment fund supporting ‘deep science’ ventures at their earliest and most risky stages. The donor said he wanted the elite scientific community, which makes up the company, “to come down from their ivory tower” and do more to support wealth creation. The fund then raised more donations from living members of society than any other initiative and made several successful investments. Despite this, it was contracted out into oblivion in 2014. Perhaps there are three cultures: humanities, science and business?

Founding CEO
Royal Society Enterprise Fund

World heritage sites

“Dirty pretty things” (June 12) reflects the objections of UNESCO greening initiatives, such as the wind turbines on the hills surrounding Bath. As the owner of a World Heritage site, I can assure you that UNESCO does not have the power to ban anything, but can take away its World Heritage label and the prestige that goes with it. One example is the Elbe Valley in Dresden, which lost its World Heritage status when a new bridge was built over the river. Ultimately, the choice is entirely up to local politicians.

Van Nellefabriek

The legacy of the Brazilian army

While far from being the country’s only problem, Brazil’s policies are now so unsavory that they discourage those who could make a difference from running for office (Special Report on Brazil, June 5). Unless there is a structural break, in 20 years I will be reading the same issues in The Economist.

Regarding the army, you presented the notion of Brazilian dictatorship as benign compared to other Latin American countries. This is true as the number of people he killed was a few thousand. But the legacy of pain extends beyond that. The dictatorship has probably tortured tens of thousands of people, a staggering amount. And many of Brazil’s current woes were created or exacerbated by the dictatorship, such as police brutality, the destruction of the Amazon, and a poor education system.

Yes, Brazil has had time for civilian leaders to deal with these issues, but the damage caused by 20 years of military might has been extensive and pervasive. The reputation of the military as a trusted institution is undeserved because it has not come under scrutiny.

Assistant professor
Musashi University

You encouraged Brazilians to vote for Jair Bolsonaro in 2022. However, the photo accompanying your text of a protester comparing Mr. Bolsonaro to Adolf Hitler was ill-chosen. To draw a parallel between a genocidal dictator and a Democratic leader, no matter how bad he is at his job, is an affront to the victims of the former. And weakens awareness of the threats that populists on the right and left pose to the still fragile democracies of Latin America.


Your report mentioned Rondônia, a state that is emblematic of deforestation in Brazil. In May, the state governor promulgated a project unanimously approved by the state assembly (where most members have cattle ranches) removing 151,000 hectares from the Jaci Parana reserve and 50,000 hectares of Guajara Mirim National Park. These reserves were created on public land decades ago and supported by projects such as PLANAFLORO (financed by the World Bank). This is just the latest case where state government appeals to developers of public land, who clear it for pasture and eventually soybeans. The best way to stop deforestation in the Amazon is for foreign companies, governments and affected individuals to stop buying Brazilian products.

São Paulo

Best tips

As a schoolboy in the 1980s from Gosforth, Visualize was regularly digested with joy, so I really enjoyed the character of Geordie Tory from Bagehot (June 12). Maybe he should expand his inspiration into a regular tips feature. VisualizeThe best tips often included practical financial suggestions that are very useful to me today, such as changing your name to avoid the expense of paying for a personalized license plate.

Harpenden, Hertfordshire

This article appeared in the Letters section of the print edition under the title “On Afghanistan, Tesla, UNESCO, Brazil, Geordies”


About Thomas Thorton

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