Biden and Trump: ‘Contrasting Visions for America’

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  • Would Iran Abide by a New Nuclear Deal?
  • Ukrainian Attacks in Crimea
  • New York’s Ruined Skyline

President Biden blamed his predecessor for stoking a movement filled with election deniers and people calling for political violence.Credit…Doug Mills/The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Biden Portrays Democracy as Under Fire in the U.S.” (front page, Sept. 2):

What a day it was Thursday for contrasting visions for America.

Early in the day, former President Donald Trump promised that if he returned to the presidency, he would issue full pardons and a government apology to rioters who attacked law enforcement officials and violently stormed the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021, to stop the democratic transfer of power.

Then in the evening, we heard President Biden describe what he called the “battle for the soul of the nation” against “an extremism that threatens the very foundations of our Republic.” He appealed to the conscience of America to reject MAGA Republicans who do not respect the Constitution, do not believe in the rule of law, do not recognize the will of the people, thrive on chaos and embrace violence. He earnestly appealed to our values — democracy, freedom, honor, dignity and honesty. As Lincoln called them in another time of crisis, “the better angels of our nature.”

These opposing visions for America could not present a more striking contrast and binary choice for the people.

David Pederson
Excelsior, Minn.

To the Editor:

President Biden gave a powerful speech identifying the threat to democracy posed by MAGA Republicans. He could have made it even stronger by including more detail on the effort of Republicans to put election deniers in office in November’s elections.

The White House or the Democratic National Committee should fill this gap by publishing a list of election deniers who are candidates for offices, such as governor or secretary of state, in which they would have the power to control or influence vote tabulation and certification in 2024. The defeat of such candidates is a political and practical imperative.

Douglas M. Parker
Ojai, Calif.
The writer served in the White House Counsel’s Office during the Watergate investigations and publishes a political blog,

To the Editor:

Democracy is not at risk. The Democratic Party’s power is at risk. President Biden is conflating his party’s survival with democracy’s. If anything, he increased the threat to the Democratic Party in the next election by engaging in such shallowness.

Andrea Economos
Hartsdale, N.Y.

To the Editor:

The issue is charged. Are you a MAGA Republican or are you a patriotic American? One cannot wear the mantle of a freedom-loving patriot in the United States of America and storm the steps of our Capitol with the intent of stopping the peaceful transfer of power because your guy lost the election. Political violence and intimidation cannot be tolerated in this Republic. We are a country founded on the rule of law and democratic principles.

In his speech, outside Independence Hall in Philadelphia, President Biden cautioned us that the fate of this democracy rests in our hands, that it is not guaranteed. Of course he is right. It is time to choose.

Felicia Massarsky

Would Iran Abide by a New Nuclear Deal?

President Biden and Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi.Credit…Illustration by The New York Times; images by Pool, Malte Mueller and Padel Bednyakov, via Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Will Iran Pay for Its Murderous Campaign?” by Bret Stephens (column, Aug. 24):

Mr. Stephens argues that the Iranian government must be understood primarily, if not solely, on the basis of the “murderous tentacles” it has extended into many parts of the world. Based on that claim, Mr. Stephens concludes that a new nuclear deal must not be made with Iran, because Iran “doesn’t stop at red lights,” it “has found ways to cheat” in the past and “the lifting of sanctions will provide it with a financial bonanza.”

Both his characterization of the Iranian government and the conclusions he draws therefrom are dubious. The Iranian government’s human rights abuses cannot be excused, but they are also not reasons not to strike a deal with Iran to prevent it from acquiring nuclear weapons. They are also not unique, and the singling out of Iran in this regard (in contrast to Saudi Arabia or Israel, for example) reveals the weakness of the argument.

Most important, Mr. Stephens ignores the most obvious evidence to support the argument against the one he advances: If Iran abided by the previous nuclear deal, then why wouldn’t it be likely to abide by a new one?

Annie Tracy Samuel
Chattanooga, Tenn.
The writer is an associate professor of Middle Easthistory at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and the author of “The Unfinished History of the Iran-Iraq War: Faith, Firepower, and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards.”

To the Editor:

Just a few months ago, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that Iran was several weeks away from having enough fissile material for a nuclear bomb. Now the conventional wisdom is that it already has enough material, meaning a deal would just be a gift in the form of sanctions relief.

The billions of dollars available to Iran upon granting it sanctions relief would immediately enable the Iranian regime to step up its support of terrorism for Hezbollah, for Hamas and for Islamic Jihad and other proxies, thereby destabilizing the entire Middle East.

Walk away from the Iran deal!

Holly Rothkopf
New York

Ukrainian Attacks in Crimea

Daniel Babii, 18, with the 112 Brigade of the Ukrainian Territorial Defense, talks with his girlfriend on Saturday before deploying to the front lines in eastern Ukraine.Credit…Lynsey Addario for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “As Attacks Mount in Crimea, Kremlin Faces Rising Pressures at Home” (news article, Aug. 21):

Let’s hope President Volodymyr Zelensky’s recent hints about liberating Crimea are more posturing for a negotiated settlement than his actual war plans. Let’s also hope that Mr. Zelensky has coordinated his shift from pure defense to offensive strikes into Russia with U.S. policymakers to ensure our military aid is consistent with our own security goals.

Illegally annexed or not, Crimea has been more de facto Russian than Ukrainian for the past few centuries. After eight years of actual annexation and a long history of a majority Russian presence, Vladimir Putin and most Russians consider Crimea to be sacred and vital to Russian security interests.

Without acquiescing to Russia’s occupation of Crimea, the U.S. must recognize that our support for attempts to restore Crimea to its status before annexation will almost certainly lead to mission creep and direct confrontation with Russia. Without undercutting our support for the defense of Ukraine, the U.S. should ensure that Mr. Zelensky’s goals are consistent with our own regarding Crimea.

Dennis Coupe
Granite Bay, Calif.
The writer is former director, national security legal issues, at U.S. Army War College.

New York’s Ruined Skyline

A view of Billionaires’ Row in Midtown Manhattan, where a number of supertall residential towers have yet to satisfy a range of safety-related tasks required by the city buildings department.Credit…Timothy A. Clary/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

To the Editor:

Re “Hochul Puts Bet on New Towers Amid Office Glut” (front page, Aug. 29):

I can remember that as a young boy first seeing the Manhattan skyline, I was mesmerized by its Art Deco beauty in its soaring tapered majesty. That was in the late 1970s, and much has changed.

The skyline now has all but obliterated those gorgeous edifices. All you see now are either soaring pencil-thin glass rods of dubious design or massive grotesque behemoths.

What’s been allowed to happen to the Manhattan skyline is tragic. Can you imagine Paris or Rome allowing their landmarks to be overwhelmed and overshadowed by these monstrosities?

Don’t even get me started on the desecration of McKim, Mead & White’s gorgeous Penn Station. Instead of trying to replicate it, now the state is pushing a plan to build 10 towers around the eyesore.

It’s heartbreaking that New York City hasn’t been a better guardian of its architectural beauty. You have destroyed the very thing that makes the city magical to a young boy. You should be ashamed.

Shannon Deason
San Antonio

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