Sexual Crimes Against Children
Re “Indifference to child rape” (Editorial, Sept. 8): You rightly condemn the allegedly relaxed attitude of the police to child sexual assault in the English town of Rotherham after hundreds of children were groomed for sexual exploitation by local gangs. Similarly appalling is the fact that every day countless children are sexually assaulted by tourists previously convicted of such crimes in their home countries who are able to travel abroad without a word of caution to foreign law enforcement authorities.
Convicted sex offenders take advantage of a lack of notification systems between nations that would, at a minimum, advise the arrival country of an offender’s prior convictions. The United States is one of a handful of countries that provide such information. Operation Angel Watch, implemented by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, notified over 100 countries of the pending arrival of more than 1,700 travelers previously convicted of sexual crimes against a child, all of whom were still subject to registration requirements under state and federal laws.
Today, law enforcement authorities are more aware of the extent of the problem, but clearly much more needs to be done.
Ernie Allen, Alexandria, Va.
The writer is president and chief executive of the International Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
How can we trust Putin?
Re “Give diplomacy with Russia a chance” (Opinion, Sept. 8): My former State Department colleagues, Ambassadors Jack F. Matlock Jr., Thomas R. Pickering and James F. Collins, assume the moral equivalence of countries that accept their neighbors’ sovereignty and countries that want to carve them up. Between America and Russia, they see “attempts by each side to pressure the other, tit-for-tat actions, shrill propaganda statements ….”
But as seen from Tbilisi, Georgia, American and Russian behavior is not symmetrical. If that were so, the United States would have armed and organized Chechen rebel fighters, tortured and killed people against independence, and, when these efforts did not prevail, sent in American troops, all the while lying shamelessly about what we were doing.
Diplomacy presupposes some trust. Because of Vladimir Putin’s Orwellian dishonesty, it no longer seems to be enough.
Charles H. Fairbanks Jr. Tbilisi, Georgia
The writer is professor of Soviet and post-Soviet systems at Ilia State University, and a former deputy assistant secretary of state.
The popes and liberation theology
Re “A church for the poor” (Opinion, Sept. 5): Paul Vallely asserts that Pope Francis is rehabilitating liberation theology. But its fundamental premise — to measure the justice of economic policy by its effects on the poor — has never been challenged. The two previous popes, Benedict XVI and John Paul II, were concerned by what they saw as misconceptions among certain theologians, priests and politicians, especially in South America, that the “kingdom of God” was to be a man-made sociopolitical entity, which contradicts Jesus’ teaching that his kingdom “is not of this world.”
While Pope Francis has reaffirmed support for the poor, he definitely does not support the belief that God’s kingdom will be established here on earth.
The Rev. Michael P. Orsi Naples, Fla.
Japan’s ruthless wartime leaders
Re “When sanctions lead to war” (Opinion, Aug. 22): Paul J. Saunders makes a valid point about the decision of Japan’s leaders to go to war against the United States in 1941: Given the economic sanctions the Japanese were facing, they had no choice but to strike out for the conquest of Asia because the survival of the regime was at stake.
For Japanese leaders, what was most important was the welfare and fate of those who held power; they believed that it was better to risk a war that they knew had little prospect of winning than to capitulate and bring an end to military-centered rule. They were little concerned about the hardships and suffering that the Japanese people would face. It is a wonder that some Japanese people can pay respects to such leaders, who were responsible for a reckless war, and even consider them to be “war heroes.”
Ko Unoki, Fujisawa, Japan
Courtesy on the plane
Re “Knee room in the air? Cash works” (Business, Aug. 29): Reclining seats were installed in planes at a time when there was ample legroom for everyone. Now, with extremely cramped quarters and limited legroom, not reclining your seat is simply considerate and courteous. Making the person seated behind you even more uncomfortable than they already are is selfish and mean.