- The Washington Times - Monday, June 5, 2000

The president and those 'civilized nations'

Reading that President Clinton is offering to share missile technology with "civilized nations," I must once again confront the multiedged sword of the president's words ("Clinton offers use of missile technology to 'civilized nations,' " June 1). Considering Mr. Clinton's apparent personal take on "civilization," I shudder at the self-serving and temporal criteria that might be used.

Would he, for example, plan to share with China what remaining technology the administration has not already enabled the Chinese to possess? Or would he place China in a noncivilized status? Sharing technology, when managed by this administration, puts generations at risk. The constitutionally mandated provision for the common defense, while in no way suggesting an isolationist posture, certainly requires viewing a one-world policy with suspicion.

I cling to the hope that the next president will understand that the world will be safer when the United States is stronger.

ANNE ALLEN

Washington

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I'm not much of a stickler for political correctness. I find it disturbing, however, that no one in the news media has picked up on President Clinton's politically incorrect faux pas when he stated that the United States would share missile-defense technology with other "civilized nations." Does Mr. Clinton mean to say that other countries are uncivilized?

It is ironic that Mr. Clinton, a progressive proponent of multiculturalism who often attacks conservatives as ethnocentric and racially insensitive, should commit such a blunder. If a conservative president had made that statement, the media would be jumping all over him. The media's silence on this is deafening.

ERIC WANG

Roslyn, N.Y.

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The June 2 Op-Ed column by Paul Weyrich and Edward Lozansky demonstrates the misdirected thinking of those who would share our most sensitive military secrets with the entire world ("A joint missile defense"). Their main argument in favor of jointly developing a nuclear defense system with Russia is that the Russians will trust us if we do it. With their trust and 35 cents, we can make a local phone call. If we develop a missile-defense system, why do we need Russia's trust?

Our federal government is supposed to provide for our nation's defense. If we trust a foreign regime, we can establish a military presence within that country and help it defend itself, provided it is in our own national security interest to do so. If circumstances change, we move out and take our technology with us. We should not provide any country with technology that will permanently benefit that country regardless of who comes to power in the future.

The article suggests that there are two ingredients to a successful missile-defense system: 1) Russia's superior scientists and 2) money from the United States. If Russia's scientists are so great, let them devise a way to raise the funds. Then they could have their very own missile-defense system. If they are the first to come up with one, do you think Russia will share it with us?

Never forget, if Russia thought it had the brainpower to develop a missile-defense system, it still would be part of the Soviet Union.

DANIEL A. NOAKES

Centreville

Arlene C. Ackerman will be missed[p]

For months, Jonetta Rose Barras has been leading the charge for the dismissal of D.C. Chief Financial Officer Valerie A. Holt. I have waited to read how Miss Holt's termination would be played on the Op-Ed page of The Washington Times.

I was surprised to read that Miss Barras has finally found new faces other than former Mayor Marion Barry to add to the city's list of management incompetents. At long last, we see the names Sharon Pratt Kelly, Camille Cates Barnett, Margaret Moore and David Watts added to the list of incompetents.

She also should add police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, financial control board Chairman Alice M. Rivlin and Mayor Anthony A. Williams. They have failed not just the city but also the nation, and not just this generation but also the next.

The linking of Superintendent of Schools Arlene C. Ackerman to Miss Holt and the list of incompetents is not supported by Mrs. Ackerman's record of achievement and her ability to gain one of the most respected and challenging school superintendent positions in the nation. Any job seeker would love to have Mrs. Ackerman's resume and record of accomplishments.

Only when San Francisco came knocking to ask that she take the superintendent position there did Mr. Williams and Mrs. Rivlin realize what a gem they had in the position.

Birds of a feather may flock together, but Mrs. Ackerman's feathers are unimpeachable. Mrs. Ackerman will be missed.

SYLVESTER JORDAN JR.

Temple Hills

Another view on the Texas vs. White descision[p]

Lest we get too carried away with the paean to the Supreme Court's Texas vs. White decision found in "Supreme Court makes secession a lost legal cause" (The Civil War, May 27), we should first examine its facile absurdities.

The "logic" underlying Texas vs. White is absurdly self-contradictory: The court reasoned that because the Constitution holds the Union to be perpetual, states once in could not leave except with Congress' consent because the framers' stated object was "a more perfect union." But the court failed to explain how the Union would be any less perfect absent a state that had left on its own as opposed to leaving with Congress' approval, when in both scenarios, the end result would be the same (i.e., the Union would be diminished by having one fewer state). Conversely, if one fewer state diminishes the Union's "perfectness," Congress could not constitutionally approve that state's leaving. Therein lies the self-refutational fallacy beneath Texas vs. White.

Texas vs. White is a thoroughly modern Supreme Court decision in two ways:

• Because the 14th Amendment, ratified around that time, implicitly deemed the secession to be an insurrection or rebellion and forbade any state from honoring debts incurred therein, Texas vs. White merely took the long way to arrive at a constitutional principle that, because it was set by constitutional amendment, was already inserted legally into the Constitution ex post facto.

• Texas vs. White is the prototype for judicial activism: Although cogent arguments had been made from the framers forward for the legality of secession, the court made no mention of them, as if hoping that by ignoring them it could make them go away. We err if we think judicial activism is rogue courts usurping the powers of the other branches. Typically, judicial activism ratifies, rather than contradicts, executive or legislative overreaches (the modern, expansive view of interstate commerce, for example) or policies these branches prefer but for which they need some judicial cover.

The only honest line in the entire Texas vs. White decision can be found in Justice Robert Grier's dissent, in which he writes that the legality of secession had been "adjudicated by war." Theodore Parker observed that all the great human charters had been "writ in blood." Does anyone seriously expect some mere body such as the Supreme Court to unwrite them with ink? Courts such as the one that heard Texas vs. White would do us all a great service if they would simply recognize that matters such as these are injudicable political questions.

DINO JOSEPH DRUDI

Washington

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