- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 5, 2005

Negative consequences in Iraq

Bill O’Reilly made a thoughtful list of “negative consequences” (“Think again … give chaos a chance,” Commentary, Monday) that we likely would see if the United States “pulled out quickly” from Iraq, as many peace activists have been urging.

What Mr. O’Reilly didn’t think about is how each of his “negative consequences” likely will happen even if the United States stays “the course” in Iraq.

Iran will continue to assist the Shi’ites and increase their power in the oil-rich Gulf region whether the U.S. troops go or stay. It is the continued murder of U.S. troops in Iraq that most demonstrates the “weakness” of our great military power or any strategic or tactical plans we may have to attack or occupy any other Middle East power.

Mr. O’Reilly simply refuses to do the math that shows it is our continued military presence in Iraq that accelerates the recruitment, financing, training and “transit” of al Qaeda operatives. Afghanistan isn’t their only destination. Soon enough, it will be the United States as well.

Mr. O’Reilly, like many other staunch war supporters, refuses to accept the fact that every comprehensive study on terrorist motivations pegs “foreign military intervention” as the primary catalyst fueling terrorist actions. We cannot “defeat” terrorism with the very means that fuels it.

The solution to the Iraqi quagmire will require a federation of Iraq with a truly multilateral U.N. and Iraqi-sanctioned military force ensuring the security of all Iraqi citizens regardless of their religious leanings.

This might result in a “humiliated” Bush administration, but in the long run, it would mean more freedom and security for everyone in the world.

CHUCK WOOLERY

Rockville

Energy security and natural disasters

Reps. Jim Saxton and Eliot Engel claim the destruction inflicted by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita “has been a jarring reminder of our overrelianceonoil”(“Energy security and oil dependence,” Commentary, Monday). But Katrina and Rita also left millions of people without food, water, electricity, medicine and housing.

Does that mean we are overly reliant on those necessities, too? Do Mr. Saxton and Mr. Engel think disaster-induced shortages of housing, electricity, etc. are good reasons for politicians to try and end our “dependence” on such essentials?

Unsurprisingly, Mr. Saxton and Mr. Engel ignore their own role in weakening U.S. energy security. One reason so much energy infrastructure is located in hurricane alley is that politicians of anti-supply-side bent have enacted moratoriums prohibiting oil and gas operations on the Atlantic Coast, the California coast and the Eastern Gulf of Mexico.

In their eagerness to regulate Americans into “energy-efficient” (read: smaller, less-crash-worthy, more expensive) cars, Mr. Saxton and Mr. Engel forget that widespread lack of car ownership contributed directly to Katrina’s high death toll.

As economist Randal O’Toole points out, about one-third of New Orleans households did not own cars, compared to about 10 percent in most other cities. Car-less households cannot easily evacuate before disaster strikes and so are more likely to remain in harm’s way.

By making car ownership or operation less affordable, oil-suppression policies such as tougher fuel-economy standards, alternative-fuel mandates and carbon taxes (or their regulatory equivalents) would reduce the ability of low-income families to provide for their own safety in future natural disasters.

MARLO LEWIS

Senior fellow

Competitive Enterprise Institute

Washington

Asbestos ‘bust’ beyond repair

I write in response to your Sept. 26 editorial “An asbestos bust”: Thank you. You conclude, though, by suggesting that a fix of Senate Bill S. 852, titled Fairness in Asbestos Injury Resolution Act of 2005, is possible. It is not.

Sen. Orrin Hatch, Utah Republican, stated that federal asbestos legislation was necessary because 90 percent of the cases were filed for persons “who never had a sick day in his life with regard to asbestos.” This bill conditionally transfers those cases out of the courts and into the Department of Labor for the award of dollars or free health care. Who else can get in on this new federal entitlement? You do not need to be sick from asbestos. Do you need to have trouble breathing? No. Do you have to have a diagnosis of asbestosis? No. Are you required to submit to a pulmonary function test? No. Can you get money if you have a type of cancer for which there is no established causal relationship to asbestos exposure? Yes; $200,000 in the first year. How many claims can you file under this bill? Nine. Though your dad died 20 years ago, can you file a claim for him? Yes.

The breadth of the giveaway is so creative and malleable, some Americans may not believe they are entitled to free health care and periodic cash stipends. Provision is made, therefore, for the hiring of labor unions as federal agents to locate and advise all potential beneficiaries of the bill. This particular public service would include serving as a gateway to legal representation and providing “assistance in obtaining the documentation necessary to support a claim.” Regardless of what you might think about labor unions, you have to know that they would be good at filling this role.

To pay for this entitlement, the Senate bill would impose a new tax on certain asbestos defendant companies and insurers for the first $136 billion needed. The funding mechanism could be expanded annually without limit. Also, no matter what that asbestos tax obligation becomes, the right of an asbestos defendant company to obtain reimbursement under its insurance policies for that asbestos-related liability would be abrogated.

The bill quotes the judgment of a Supreme Court jurist: “[The] elephantine mass of asbestos cases… defies customary judicial administration and calls for national legislation.” The allusion to an elephant is wonderfully apt. In the old days, a working budget of $136 billion or a $695 billion problem would have inspired an entrepreneur or two, risk-taking and private investment. Before the Senate completes its study of this elephant, may that inspiration strike.

MICHAEL MARTIN

Mount Lebanon, Pa.

In support of Turkey

Tulin Daloglu writes rather disingenuously in her Tuesday Op-Edcolumn,”Uniting Turkey, the EU,” that “[German and Austrian] leaders who ran elections based on anti-Turkish sentiment lost their elections,” citing German Christian Democratic Union leader Angela Merkel and Austrian Chancellor Wolfgang Schuessel.

In actuality, Mrs. Merkel’s CDU won the German elections with a plurality (though not a majority) over Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder’s Social Democrats. Mr. Schuessel’s People’s Party in Austria lost a regional election, true, but its decline commenced years ago; it cannot be tied to the Turkish issue. Mr. Schuessel himself was not a candidate. I firmly support Turkey’s EU aspirations, and I am disappointed when a champion of the bid resorts to half-truths. Turkey’s EU accession can easily stand on the facts; it does not require fiction.

MATTHEW WITTING

Wiesloch, Germany

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