- The Washington Times - Monday, October 11, 2004

President Bush and the Duelfer report

In his response to the Duelfer report (“Misreporting the Duelfer report,” Editorial, Friday), President Bush needed only state that prior to the invasion of Iraq, there were five sets of indisputable facts.

First, there are many kinds of terrorists and evildoers — al Qaeda among them — who are willing to die to kill Americans. There can be no doubt they would love to deploy a weapon of mass destruction in the middle of New York City if only they could acquire one.

Second, in the past, Saddam Hussein possessed and used such weapons on his own people. And though he claimed that Iraq no longerpossessedWMD, Saddam repeatedly refused to allow weapons inspectors unfettered access to his weapons facilities. Furthermore, intercepts of phone calls between his weapons officials showed that during the limited inspections that Saddam allowed, materials were being moved around to avoid discovery by the inspectors.

Third, intelligence agencies the world over were virtually unanimous in the belief that Saddam had WMD or was trying to acquire them. The dispute at the time was over what to do about Iraq’s weapons, not whether they existed.

Fourth, whether Saddam had any connection to the September 11 terrorist attacks, he was clearly a terrorist sympathizer and sponsor.

He pledged publicly that he would send funds to the families of Palestinian suicide bombers, and he followed through. At facilities outside Baghdad, terrorists were trained in hijacking, assassination and the use of biological and chemical weapons.

The terrorists that hijacked the Achille Lauro cruise ship in 1985 and killed Leon Klinghoffer lived in Baghdad. The Ansar al-Islam terrorist group was openly training in northern Iraq.

Fifth, having been humiliated in the first Gulf war, Saddam came to hate America. The proof is that he tried to assassinate former President George H.W. Bush.

President Bush looked at this collection of facts and realized that America might be facing a dangerous nexus between an America-hating madman with a proven willingness to develop and use WMD, and the existence of international terrorists willing to die for the sake of killing Americans.

The possibility that Saddam might be able to take vengeance on America by giving WMD to a group like al Qaeda was an intolerable risk. That is why Mr. Bush took us to war in Iraq.

MICHAEL SMITH

Sharpsburg, Ga.

Terrorists on UN payroll?

Last week, Peter Hansen, director-general of the U.N. Relief and Works Agency in Gaza and the West Bank, said he was “sure there are Hamas members on [his] payroll” (“Rocket transport charge dropped,” World, Thursday). I was disturbed to find that this highly newsworthy and scandalous item is not making it into newspapers in a more prominent fashion — particularly in light of Israel’s ongoing campaign in Gaza to stop Hamas terrorism and the firing of rockets into Israeli towns like Sderot.

Last year, according to the United Nations Association of the United States, American taxpayers contributed $134 million to the UNRWA in Palestine. Mr. Hansen’s statement acknowledges the illegal use of U.S. taxpayer funds for members of a terrorist organization. With the upcoming Nov. 30 conference of U.N. donor countries to discuss ongoing support of Palestinian projects, this is clearly something to keep in mind.

I think we should all be concerned about UNRWA’s admission of Hamas members on its payroll.

CLAUDETTE GIRARD

Detroit

Social Security: a bad investment

When I read the letter by the AARP’s Michael Naylor denying that Social Security is a bad bargain and claiming it’s “in no immediate danger of going broke” (“Social Security dangers questioned,” Thursday), my jaw dropped in surprise and disgust.

This is a program that pays poorly, costs too much and steals from our children. Clearly we must save for old age and retirement, but Social Security as it now exists is an age-based Ponzi scheme.

It builds no wealth, no savings and no investment. It is a poorly performing savings plan which benefits the few who live long enough to recover their forced investment in it.

As a holder of a graduate degree in labor economics with experience as an investment broker, once I became a Social Security recipient I undertook some rough calculations on my “contributions” to Social Security.

I compared them to an investment in stock mutual funds, long-term treasury bonds and CDs, and calculated the likely results. If Social Security had produced comparable returns, I would now have an account worth somewhere between $450,000 and $1,500,000, or possibly more.

Assuming that upon retirement my fund would have been placed in treasury bonds or CDs, I would now be receiving at least $22,000 a year with no depletion of principal. Instead, I get $11,700. My life insurance coverage is a mere $255, what my wife will receive if she outlives me. So it’s clear enough that Social Security amounts to a high tax on the middle-class worker with an extremely poor return.

How to fix it? My suggestion would be to gradually begin shifting those under age 55 into a personal savings account system somewhat like what federal workers now have.

We would need 15 years to accomplish the shift to cover costs for the majority of retirees in the current system. Upon retirement, a worker could put his or her account into CDs and retire on the interest.

Upon death, he or she would hand a substantial estate to survivors. We would all benefit because (1) workers would get vastly improved retirement benefits; (2) there would be more savings available for borrowers, thus keeping interest rates low; and (3) survivors would actually get a substantial amount, not a mere $255.

JAMES R. CAMPBELL

Arlington

Maintain arms embargo on China

If the European Union lifts its ban on selling weapons to the People’s Republic of China, the consequences for democratic Taiwan and for Europe itself would be disastrous (“Arming Beijing?,” Editorial, yesterday).

Should EU nations such as Germany or France decide to lift the ban, they would effectively increase the People’s Liberation Army’s ability to threaten Taiwan.

Such an attack could harm the EU economically by disrupting exports and halting business in world markets for key items like computers and mobile phones. Europe would be choosing short-term profits over long-term stability if it releases China from the arms embargo.

Equally important is the example the EU sets for developingdemocracies around the world. The EU enacted the weapons sale ban to punish Beijing and hold it accountable for its human rights abuses following the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre.

Ending the ban would send a message to the world that Europeans aren’t serious about human rights, and that they’re willing to look the other way in the face of gross abuses. It would also show a lack of regard for Taiwan’s hard-won democracy, which would be threatened by the weapons the EU wants to sell to China.

Some misguided EU politicians and special-interest groups have raised questions about the nature of Taiwan’s economic ties with China, while ignoring the fact that cross-strait nonmilitary trade encourages China’s good behavior by helping raise the standard of living for Chinese citizens.

Selling European arms to the Chinese government would only encourage China to disrupt the region and tip the delicate balance of peace.

The EU’s ban on weapons sales to China helps promote peace in East Asia and forces the PRC to face up to its own deplorable human rights record.

Europe should ignore calls to lift the ban, and instead help China develop into a modern, peace-loving member of the international community that respects human rights as well as its neighbors.

JASON WRIGHT

Annandale

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