Sir, - Some recent guest Opinion articles have fallen far short of The Irish Times's editorial standards. Roger Cole's meandering on behalf of the "Peace and Neutrality Alliance" was weak enough (December 18th), but far worse was last Friday's article, "Western democracy not the best of all possible worlds", by Desmond Fennell.

The author starts with the reasonable suggestion that our society is not ideal and has many flaws. He goes on to present some truly baffling claims: Western democracy, he says, "could not be seriously offered as a model, say, to Iran, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Libya, China. . .", because our democratic society has "too much violence and deliberate killing. . .even of the unborn." The comparison is ludicrous. This State is not engaged in the mass murder of its own citizens (as in Iraq) or forced abortions (as in China). As Churchill pointed out, democracy is the worst system of government in the world, apart from all the others.

Of course democracy is imperfect - humans don't create perfect systems - but at least it offers every citizen the opportunity to participate in improving the society. In this regard, a democracy is a morally better system than a dictatorship.

I applaud The Irish Times for its willingness to publish radical opinions - as long as they are supported by reason, evidence, and solid, consistent arguments. - Yours, etc.,


Usher's Island,

Dublin 8.