Letter: Voting on convictions

In “What the world needs now,” published Tuesday, Jon Monteith conjectures that “the world is standing firmly behind John Kerry.” Monteith bases his argument on a Program on International Policy Attitudes poll, released on Sept. 8, in which a majority of respondents in 30 out of 35 countries indicated that they do not support the re-election of President Bush.

Further study of the survey (www.pipa.org) reveals that 46 percent of all individual respondents support Kerry while 20 percent favor Bush. Monteith fails to mention that 34 percent of those surveyed did not respond, which itself casts doubt on his conclusion that “Kerry is more respected (than Bush] worldwide.” I have followed this election since the primaries, and I still don’t know enough about Kerry to make a satisfactory character judgment. I doubt the average citizen of another country knows enough about Kerry to respect him on his own merits. I don’t think the survey reflects anything more than an international approval rating of U.S. foreign policy. In the same survey, only 19 percent of those surveyed stated that Bush’s foreign policy made them feel better about the United States; this is almost identical to the percentage of individuals who said they supported Bush.

I am insulted by Monteith’s admonition to cater my vote to international opinion simply because my ancestors emigrated here from other countries. I would like to think that my ancestors, if alive today, would vote based on their own convictions as U.S. citizens in the present, which exactly is what I intend to do. Finally, Monteith states that “these nations … have done more to protect our country than many of our own citizens.” Without belittling any country’s contribution, I must remind him that out of 1,150 military casualties in Iraq as of Sept. 14, 1,016 have been U.S. citizens.

Aaron Sacks

graduate student