- The Washington Times - Monday, April 18, 2005

Repeal the Byrd amendment

William Hawkins (“Risky WTO trade-offs” Commentary, Friday) praises the Byrd amendment because of his desire to find ways to defy World Trade Organization decisions. He picked a bad example. What Mr. Hawkins forgets is that the Byrd amendment isn’t just being attacked by the WTO; the amendment is bad for the American economy, too.

Of course, the Byrd amendment undermines U.S. leadership on global trade issues. If our trading partners subsidize their industries, the United States rightly complains; but the Byrd amendment is a subsidy and is subject to the same criticism. Except this subsidy hurts Americans more than foreigners.

The Byrd amendment is “corporate welfare” at its worst. It subsidizes nothing constructive. It requires part of an industry to pay for a no-strings-attached grant to a narrow interest group, namely those who file anti-dumping and countervailing duty petitions.

Contrary to Mr. Hawkins’ assertion that the Byrd amendment helps rebuild American companies, the amendment attaches no conditions to the government funds received. Byrd amendment recipients do not have to rebuild, pay off debt or create new jobs. The subsidy can be used to fund ad campaigns, pay legal fees or increase executive bonuses. Moreover, the funds are distributed according to a formula that assures that large, prosperous companies get more money than small struggling ones.

U.S. companies often end up paying twice. They not only must pay the duties for imported products they need, but they must also watch helplessly while the money enriches their competitors in the United States.

In two weeks, when Canada and the European Union impose retaliatory tariffs for our failure to repeal the Byrd amendment, even more American companies, including companies that produce paper, clothing fabrics, footwear, machinery, cigarettes, oysters and live swine will suffer as a result of this law, which subsidizes nothing in particular except the filing of trade cases.

The Byrd amendment should be repealed — not only because it is illegal under WTO rules, but because it is bad for U.S. businesses, the U.S. economy and U.S. trade policy.

LEWIS E. LEIBOWITZ

Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition

Washington

Double standard

I must point out some errors and mischaracterizations in Mansoor Ijaz’s Commentary column “Peace wicket for Kashmir” (Sunday).

Mr. Ijaz says that the F-16 fighter jets the Bush administration recently proposed to sell to Pakistan are “non-nuclear capable.” This is misleading. All F-16s are capable of carrying nuclear weapons. Many credible reports and declassified U.S. documents say that Pakistan rewired its previous batch of F-16s sold by the United States in the 1980s to carry nuclear weapons. There is little doubt that the new F-16s can be similarly modified.

Although Mr. Ijaz claims that the deal “calms” Pakistani generals, many experts, including former U.S. government officials, point out that whenever the United States has sold big weapons systems to Pakistan, its military had tended to interpret it as an American carte blanche for Pakistan to launch military operations on India, especially in Kashmir.

In fact, soon after the F-16 announcement, Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf noted that unless India resolves the Kashmir dispute to Pakistan’s satisfaction, further incursions by Pakistan, like the 1999 Pakistani adventure in Kargil, Kashmir, cannot be ruled out.

It must also be noted that the F-16s are just a part of an arms bonanza from the United States to Pakistan. The Bush administration has already cleared sales of billions of dollars’ worth of reconnaissance planes, anti-tank missiles and attack helicopters, largely at the U.S. taxpayers’ expense.

I must also express my skepticism at Mr. Ijaz’s hagiography of the Kashmiri separatist Yasin Malik. Mr. Malik’s party, the All Parties Hurriyet Conference, is often referred to as the All Pakistan Hurriyet Conference, as it mostly parrots the views of those from across the border in Pakistan. I wish Mr. Malik had displayed the same vigor in contesting democratic elections in Indian Kashmir as he showed in his signature drive. Instead, he chose to boycott the elections.

Mr. Malik, who wastes no time in condemning “atrocities” by Indian soldiers, has also been strangely silent during a recent campaign by jihadists to systematically murder contestants in the local-body elections in Kashmir. Mr. Malik and his colleagues have also seldom spoken up against those who conduct routine beheadings and execution-style killings of innocent Kashmiris they suspect of being informants or India supporters.

This is definitely an opportunity for peace in Kashmir. But only time will tell if those who control the jihadists choose to grab the olive branch or plan to wage war with their newly acquired war machines.

KAUSHIK KAPISTHALAM

Atlanta

DeLay’s church-state missteps

As a longtime believer in limited government, I was chilled to the bone by House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s remarks in your exclusive interview (“DeLay says foes seek to shut ethics panel,” Page 1, Thursday).

Mr. DeLay attacked the constitutional concept of an independent judiciary, as well as two of our most basic human rights, by saying: “The reason the judiciary has been able to impose a separation of church and state that’s nowhere in the Constitution is that Congress didn’t stop them. The reason we had judicial review is because Congress didn’t stop them. The reason we had a right to privacy is because Congress didn’t stop them.”

The First Amendment of the Constitution clearly states, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.”

Thomas Jefferson wrote in a letter to the Danbury Baptist Association dated Jan. 1, 1802, that the First Amendment builds “a wall of separation between church and state.” It strikes me that that is a rather clear indication of the framers’ original intent.

As for the issue of a right to privacy, Mr. DeLay implies that the courts somehow invented or fabricated a right to privacy. Yet the Fourth Amendment offers us protection from unreasonable searches and seizures, hence codifying privacy protections, even if it doesn’t literally use the word “privacy.”

It is also worth noting that Jefferson himself was afraid that Bill of Rights would be used by future politicians to limit our basic human rights rather than protect them. It would seem that Mr. DeLay is a modern fulfillment of that fear.

Jefferson wrote in his “Notes on the State of Virginia” that “[t]he legitimate powers of government extend to such acts only as are injurious to others.” Would that the Republican leadership heed our founders’ words: We might once more have a small, limited and truly conservative government that ensures the blessings of liberty of all citizens, and not just those of a narrow political (that dirtiest of words) constituency.

DAVID J. MAGARO

Leonardtown, Md.

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