Readers respond to Laura Miller on "The New Iraq," an interview with author Helen Knode, and a review of Hunter S. Thompson's latest book.

Published April 8, 2003 12:00AM (EDT)

Read the review of "The New Iraq."

I confess I haven't read my colleague Joseph's book, so in all fairness I can't comment on Ms. Miller's panning of it. But I was concerned about the way she hinted that Joseph was somehow using the book to drum up business for Pyramid Research, the company I work for in our Hong Kong offices as the research director for our Asia practice. The book is Joseph's own endeavor, and is not linked to Pyramid's activities, which, by-the-by, are a bit more legitimate than you insinuate.

My derisively termed "outfit" has been around since 1987, and yes, did get its start providing market information on the telecom markets of the developing world. Most of our clients -- multinational operators such as KDD and equipment vendors such as Ericsson and Lucent -- have for over a decade relied on our forecasts and analysis of emerging markets. (For that is what they are, not "emerging markets" as your punctuation scoffingly puts it.) Our value to our clients (sorry, "value" to our "clients") is that we look at markets that our competitors -- "outfits" such as the Gartner Group, Forrester and IDC -- do not cover in such holistic depth. For several years, we were owned by the Economist Intelligence Unit, which also, funnily enough, makes its money out of covering "emerging markets."

Bully for Laura, who appears to have surfed our Web site, which brings to conclusion her research on our company. Perhaps Joseph didn't visit Iraq, but he's done a hell of a lot more substantive investigation than she has.

Ms. Miller appears to be quite content to conclude that because she's never heard of our little "outfit" (given her lack of experience in international telecoms, that's not surprising), that we must be shady. And because Joseph has put his own skills to work -- that is, evaluating business opportunity in emerging markets -- in this book, that he and Pyramid must be conniving to stuff our carpetbags full of consulting dollars once the U.S. "liberates" Iraq. At least, that's your insinuation, as you haven't felt up for trying to prove anything.

This hypocrisy is stunning, coming from a writer for a publication that is trying to stay alive by selling "non-embedded" Iraq war coverage.

If Joseph is attempting to use his perspective to create opportunity, he is doing so from a standpoint of deep regional knowledge, cultural affinity, and no doubt love for his homeland (whether he's been there or not).

What's Salon's excuse?

-- Ross O'Brien

Read the review of "Kingdom of Fear."

I found myself agreeing with the bulk of Allen Barra's assessment, but I think he gives G.W. Bush too much credit. Thompson is essentially on-target in his personal assessment of Bush (though Barra is also correct in stating that the assessment doesn't illuminate Bush for the reader). I find that the most amazing thing about Bush is that the press around him is so uninspired. The war in Iraq has had a half-dozen publicly stated motivations by now, the tax cut philosophy started with surpluses and a balanced budget and stayed the same through a now crushing deficit, Al Gore's statements are now attributed to Bush -- and no one bats an eye.

All of this should be news, but isn't. Bush doesn't bend public will or manipulate polls or come up with innovative policies or solutions -- he doesn't add to public discourse at all. The problem is we so rarely read about how little Bush contributes, rather than reading about how close to success (on the war, tax cuts, campaign promises) Bush is.

-- C. Travis Sullivan

Read the interview with Helen Knode.

I want to thank Helen Knode for putting in words what I could never express about "Thelma and Louise." I couldn't see it as a feminist movie, I could see its problems, and yet ... and yet ... and that's where it clicked: When I read Knode's comment that there is no escape to freedom, that "no matter where you go in this world, you are a vagina."

How many times in the literature of the ages have women taken to male disguises in order to be "free"? It's simply a fact of life: Like it or not, women will always, always be under the "male gaze" -- not necessarily a bad thing, but still it deprives women of an anonymous liberty. (For example, you simply can't go into a bar or coffee house alone and expect to remain anonymous, left alone to absorb the atmosphere or observe the goings-on. Inevitably, a man will speak to you, welcome or not. We are never allowed to be truly alone, anonymous, in public.).

Many times I actually look forward to getting old, old enough to be unattractive to men because it will be the ONLY way I'll ever achieve true liberty. I've yet to find a man who understands this sentiment -- and a woman who doesn't.

-- Kim Tilbury

By Salon Staff

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