- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 13, 2000

U.S. should make Taiwan policy clear to China

China's obsession with the military-political use of its new nuclear missile capability shows two disturbing trends:

First, its avowed willingness to use nuclear weapons against the United States to deter the U.S. military from supporting Taiwan in a conflict.

Second, its strident defiance by conducting missile tests while receiving America's top military brass ("China runs 2nd test of long-range missile," Dec. 12).

Yet the Clinton administration decided on Nov. 22 to waive sanctions on China for its sale of missile materials to Pakistan and Iran and clear the way for U.S. firms to launch satellites on Chinese rockets ("China Gave Up Little in U.S. Deal on Banning Sale of Missile Parts," New York Times, Nov. 25).

Despite their Cold War-era rhetoric of using nuclear arms, the United States and the Soviet Union acted prudently and responsibly. They never used any nuclear bomb in a conflict.

The United States should more forcefully discourage the Chinese from flouting their nuclear missiles. It should declare unambiguously that the United States will help defend Taiwan if China attempts to use force to achieve unification, and that a Chinese nuclear attack on the United States will amount to suicide. Only a policy of strategic clarity, instead of ambiguity, can deter China's menacing "missile diplomacy."

VINCENT WEI-CHENG WANG

Assistant professor of political science

University of Richmond

Richmond

Parties can unite in condemning Sudan human rights abuses

With the turbulent presidential election beginning to settle, Americans want their political leaders to work together to heal the nation and restore a sense that government does more than pursue private ambitions.

We need a cause that all Americans, regardless of their political stripes, can come together to support. To this end, I applaud the Congressional Black Caucus for its Oct. 20 letter to President Clinton urging him to submit a resolution to the United Nations condemning the government of Sudan for its "ruthless bombing of civilians." ("Clinton on slavery: The president finally finds his voice," Op-Ed, Dec. 11).

Some lawmakers already have taken on this cause. Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas has made several statements on the Senatefloor concerning human rights abuses in the Sudan. He also has sponsored legislation, such as Senate Resolution 109 on May 27, 1999, relating to the activities of the National Islamic Front government in Sudan, and instituting the Religious Prisoners Congressional Task Force on March 19, 1998.

The story of Sudan's horrific abuses of its own people goes beyond the imagination. More than 2 million have been slaughtered and 4 million to 5 million have been driven from their homes, many directly into the hands of slavery.

Slavery is so rampant that Dr. Kevin Vigilante, speaking before the House subcommittee on international operations and human rights, on March 13, 1996, reported that it was possible to buy a human being for as little as $15.

With our people divided on so many fronts, this is one issue our political leaders can come together on and prove that we as a people still hold firm to a basic sense of what is right and wrong.

JEFF L. OVALL

Lorton

Civility, aided by faith, will allow America to overcome partisan divide

Long after the presidential brouhaha in Florida is resolved, a far greater challenge will await the president-elect and congressional leaders: a politically divided nation. Urban vs. rural; black vs. white; pro-life vs. pro-choice pick a demographic or an issue and you're likely to find a near 50-50 split.

Then take a look at Congress. Republicans hold a slim majority in the House. There exists the possibility of a 50-50 split in the Senate, with Democratic leaders campaigning for shared leadership. Plus, Democrats already are eyeing possible midterm election gains in 2002 that could give them control of both houses. Add to that an incoming president who will spend the first several months of his administration trying to shake the perception of "illegitimacy," and you have a recipe for gridlock.

Things could get ugly, and quick. And considering recent history, the tone of the debate will undoubtedly worsen.

So, what do our leaders in Washington need? As Sen. Mitch McConnell reminds us in a quote from the article, "Democrats, Republicans press for harmony" (Dec. 11), it is civility in heavy doses, and right away.

According to Roget's Thesaurus, civility is "a courteous act that contribute[s] to smoothness and ease in dealings and social relationships." Sounds like something we would all like a little more of. Why, then, does civility in politics suffer?

Perhaps more than any other field of endeavor, politics is driven by ego. And nothing fans the flames of ego and destroys civility better than television.

On "talking heads" shows, liberal and conservative partisans willingly play to the cameras and engage in hostile showmanship. But once the studio lights go out, these same hostile partisans may actually retreat together to a favorite watering hole. The only problem is, the viewing public only sees the TV "stage bickering." The stage rhetoric tends to bleed over into other Capitol Hill forums, public and private.

So, how do we restore civility?

First, as Mr. McConnell recommended, we must learn to accept defeat (and victory) graciously. Losing is difficult. But let's look on the bright side: No matter how difficult this election process has been, the change in power has occurred without troops marching in the streets. Plus, the minority party holds an important role in our government.

In Britain, the minority is called the "loyal opposition" an oxymoron that in many ways captures the essence of public civility. In the final analysis, the unpredictability of the election process should keep both winners and losers quite humble. The next election is just around the corner.

Second, we must learn to guard what we say especially those who appear on television. Words have impact, and that impact is amplified under the bright lights of television.

Third, especially for those working on the Hill, find excuses to meet across partisan lines, perhaps at a favorite eatery. I was encouraged to hear that House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and Minority Leader Richard A. Gephardt met privately behind closed doors shortly after Election Day. It was a small first step, but a good step. That same sense of congeniality could extend throughout Congress, even to staffers. It would be nice to see conservative and liberal think-tank leaders getting together over lunch.

Finally, more important than new election rules, we need new governing goals. There is a high water mark of public service, and it's called statesmanship.

True statesmanship is a lost art, largely because we have forgotten the faith-based perspective that makes statesmanship possible.

George Washington, in his Farewell Address, called "religion and morality" "indispensable supports" of political prosperity. He added, "Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle."

It's not enough for leaders to talk a good "faith game." It's time to live it, and a great place to start is with civility. How do we begin on this new path of civility? John F. Kennedy offered some insight in his Inaugural Address, "So let us begin anew remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate."

Mr. Kennedy's comments were made in hopes of bringing a thaw to the U.S.-Soviet Cold War. Forty years later, that same civility could certainly help bring a thaw to America's cold and divided culture.

FRANK WRIGHT

Director

D. James Kennedy Center for Christian Statesmanship

Washington

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