- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 1, 2000

With all the hoopla going on about the selection today by New Hampshire voters of their favorite political figures, you could be forgiven for being unaware that the polling there coincides with another momentous choice: the first winner of the new millennium's coveted "Horatius-at-the-Bridge" award. That tribute is paid each year by this column to the individual who has, by dint of a lonely fight against long odds, rendered service to the Nation that compares favorably to the ancient Roman who, according to legend, spared his city from destruction at the hands of its enemies by his single-handed defense of a critical bridge.
This year, the finalists are:
c Sen. Jim Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, for his tireless efforts to prevent political operatives in San Juan and the Clinton White House from colluding to deny the Navy and Marine Corps use of a unique, live-fire training facility on the island of Vieques off Puerto Rico. Mr. Inhofe serves as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee's Readiness Subcommittee. He takes very seriously his responsibilities to oversee and provide the U.S. military with the personnel, resources, equipment and realistic experience to provide the combat capability needed to deter aggression and, if deterrence fails, to prevail in the nation's wars.
In this connection, he has made countless visits to American units and bases all over the world. These visits have, among other things, persuaded him of the indispensability of the Vieques range to the qualification of Navy and Marine forces for combat operations. He will be testifying about his findings today in an Armed Services Committee hearing, together with the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Jay Johnson, and the commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James Jones, who have advocated a referendum of the people of Vieques as the fairest and most accurate means of establishing whether those most immediately affected would support resumed live-fire training on the island.
Interestingly, the Puerto Rican politicians who have shamelessly exploited the accidental death of a civilian guard at the base and its subsequent illegal occupation by leftist protesters to advance their agenda of statehood, if not outright independence from the United States oppose a plebiscite of the people of Vieques. They have vilified and even threatened Mr. Inhofe for resisting their efforts to euchre a deal that would compromise the national interest. To his lasting credit, the senator is standing firm, immeasurably helping the Navy and Marine Corps to do the same, in the face of intense political pressure to capitulate.
c House Majority Whip Tom DeLay of Texas who, together with Reps. Chris Cox and Dana Rohrabacher, both of California, and House International Relations Committee Chairman Ben Gilman, New York, has fashioned and will bring to a vote perhaps as early as today the Taiwan Security Enhancement Act (TSEA). This legislation is designed to restore a balance to the United States' relationships with Communist China and democratic Taiwan that is more strategically sound and consistent with American values and interests than the Clinton administration's Sino-centric policy.
Specifically, the TSEA would set the stage for substantially increased defense cooperation between the armed forces of the United States and those of Taiwan. It calls for improved communications between the two. The bill would also clear the way for the sale of improved defensive capabilities of the sort needed to offset the massive upgrades China has been making in its offensive weaponry aimed at the state across the Taiwan Strait whose de facto independence and sovereignty Beijing refuses to acknowledge and seems poised to try to liquidate by force.
It is to be hoped Mr. DeLay's success in creating bipartisan support for the TSEA in the face of stiff opposition from China and its friends in the Clinton administration will not only secure enactment of this important legislation but encourage him to play an equally decisive role in energizing congressional oversight and action in other national security areas, as well.
c Nina Shea, the highly respected director of the Center for Religious Freedom at Freedom House and a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom, for her leadership in forging a coalition of human rights, religious leaders and national security experts opposed to the penetration of U.S. capital markets by select Chinese and other foreign entities engaged in unacceptable activities. The first targets of Ms. Shea's coalition have been two firms Talisman Energy Inc. of Canada and PetroChina, a spinoff of China National Petroleum Company (CNPC) engaged in oil exploration and development in Sudan. The proceeds help the odious government in Khartoum prosecute its efforts to enslave or exterminate Christians and others living in that country's oil-rich south, support terrorism and procure weapons of mass destruction.
Under Ms. Shea's leadership with technical counsel from, among others, Roger Robinson, the chair of the William J. Casey Institute of the Center for Security Policy this coalition has in recent weeks taken several momentous steps. First, more than 200 of its members and friends (including former National Security Adviser William Clark and former Treasury Secretary William Simon), wrote President Clinton last month urging that he block efforts by CNPC or its subsidiary to issue an expected $5 billion to $7 billion Initial Public Offering on the New York Stock Exchange. The administration properly is nervous about doing otherwise.
Second, a divestment campaign promoted by Ms. Shea and other activists has resulted in a huge sell-off of Talisman shares by four of the nation's leading investment funds TIAA-CREF, the California and New Jersey public employees' pension funds and of Texas teachers. In recent months, Talisman's connection to Sudan has reportedly resulted in a decline of the stock's value of more than 20 percent.
Then last week, nine of the coalition's leaders wrote more than 240 executive directors and CEO's of many of this country's largest public pension funds and private mutual fund families, as well as all 50 state treasurers. The letter called on these leading money managers and state officials to forgo the purchase of PetroChina stock, should it become available, on the grounds that mechanisms purported to prevent U.S. and other investor proceeds from finding their way to Khartoum represented an unworkable "contrivance." Notice has thus been served that purchase of such CNPC stock will probably precipitate a divestment campaign like that which has hounded Talisman.
It appears that there may be multiple winners in the New Hampshire sweepstakes today. One vote is already in: Each of our finalists deserves to be recognized as a Horatius at the Bridge.

Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is the president of the Center for Security Policy and a columnist for The Washington Times.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide