- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 2, 2004

NASA ‘charting a clear path’

Regarding “NASA’s black hole,” (Editorial, Wednesday) we appreciate The Times’ support for our nation’s new vision for space exploration.

However, we have made significant strides in transforming the National Aeronautics and Space Administration with a strong focus on financial management. To date, we have implemented the Core Financial Module of the Integrated Financial Management Program. During the May congressional hearing mentioned in the editorial, the Government Accountability Office supported continued development of NASA’s new financial management system. It recognized, however, that our journey to improved financial health will not be completed overnight.

As we continue to work with Congress to ensure that we are able to meet the goal of extending our exploration horizons throughout the solar system, we also are charting a clear path toward improved financial management.

SEAN O’KEEFE

Administrator

National Aeronautics and Space

Administration

Washington

The tort test

We were happy to see Charles Hurt’s article on Monday expose the obvious contradictions coming from the Kerry-Edwards campaign regarding frivolous lawsuits and so-called civil justice reform provisions in their health care plan (“Both candidates talk big but do little on tort reform,” Page 1). Both Sen. John Kerry and Sen. John Edwards advocate mandatory sanctions for lawyers filing frivolous claims, but as Mr. Hurt’s article reveals, neither senator would support the common-sense Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act (LARA) that would do just that. LARA passed the House of Representatives earlier this month.

President Bush has made civil justice reform a priority. Now, if only a bill could make it to his desk to be signed.

SHERMAN JOYCE

President

American Tort Reform Association

Washington

A bluff, or a blunder?

Tod Lindberg asks why Saddam Hussein didn’t fully cooperate with the U.N. inspectors, because if he had, he probably would still be in power rather than in a cell waiting for his probable execution (“Saddam miscalculated?” Op-Ed, Tuesday). Mr. Lindberg also speculates that he didn’t because he was delusional, because he actually believed that he had sufficient power to beat back the Americans and British if they attacked. Perhaps so, but I rather suspect it was because he figured America and Great Britain were bluffing, and he called them on it and was greatly surprised to discover that they were not bluffing.

He surely had good reason to believe America was bluffing, though.

He knew the United Nations was bluffing, and he could see that President Bush was being backed by some Democratic senators, such as John Kerry, who had voted against Desert Storm.

Now Mr. Kerry acknowledges that when he voted for the war, what he really was doing was bluffing and he expected Mr. Bush to bluff also. He claims that if he had been president, he would have been able to use his bluff to get Saddam to disarm peacefully.

But surely if Mr. Kerry had been president, Saddam would have called his bluff as well, and Mr. Kerry would have had to back down. Saddam would still be in power, with dreams of accumulating weapons of mass destruction.

In fact, because Mr. Kerry has acknowledged that he is a bluffer, if he is elected now, we can forget about persuading North Korea and Iran to give up their nukes. Mr. Kerry could not credibly threaten them with “serious consequences” if they don’t.

So there is reason to believe that if Mr. Kerry is elected, the world will become a much scarier place.

ROBERT C. RICHARDS

Sanford, N.C.

Strengthening the Strait

Nicholas Kralev makes one major error in his otherwise perceptive story on Taiwanese arms sales (“China hits U.S. sales to Taiwan,” Page 1, Friday). In agreeing to the so-called “third communique” with China on Aug. 17, 1982, President Reagan emphatically did not agree to “work to reduce and eventually eliminate” arms sales to Taiwan.

In 1982, then-Secretary of State Alexander Haig was advocating such language but had not informed Mr. Reagan. In July 1982, after Mr. Haig had been fired, Mr. Reagan sent a personal message to Taiwan’s president that included “six assurances,” the first of which was, “The U.S. has not agreed to set a date for ending arms sales to Taiwan.”

Mr. Reagan also informed the Chinese government that he would not agree to end arms sales to Taiwan and insisted that the text of the communique include only the vague “intent” to “reduce gradually its sales of arms to Taiwan, leading over a period of time to a final resolution.”

To ensure that his bureaucracy did not misunderstand him, Mr. Reagan dictated a confidential memo in connection with the August 1982 communique that was personally initialed by both the new Secretary of State George Shultz and Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger.

That memo said: “U.S. willingness to reduce its arms sales to Taiwan is conditioned absolutely upon the continued commitment of China to the peaceful solution of the Taiwan-[People’s Republic of China] differences. It should be clearly understood that the linkage between these two matters is a permanent imperative of U.S. foreign policy. In addition, it is essential that the quantity and quality of the arms provided Taiwan be conditioned entirely on the threat posed by the PRC. Both in quantitative and qualitative terms, Taiwan’s defense capability relative to that of the PRC will be maintained.”

JOHN J. TKACIK JR.

Research fellow in Asian studies

Heritage Foundation

Washington

China is the key to North Korea

Thursday’s Commentary column by Daniel J. Gallington, “The U.N. and the war on terror,” is the most perceptive geopolitical analysis I have seen in a long time, with the exception of the attention Mr. Gallington gives to North Korea.

We do not see hordes of North Koreans wearing hoods while blowing up children in the name of Buddha or even Marx. Their threat is much different. For more than half a century, North Korea has hung like a festered appendix from the belly of the Red Dragon, perhaps to show the Chinese peasants by example that things could be worse.

If China wants international terrorists to have weapons of mass destruction, they will be supplied by, or through, North Korea. If China wants to test its strategy of nuclear blackmail, North Korea will be the pawn it plays.

Look to China for the solution to the threat of North Korean WMD. Without China’s support, North Korea dares not stir up trouble.

JERRY A. ORR

Black Mountain, N.C.

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