- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Zinni’s dubious spin

As an addendum to Tony Blankley’s excellent analysis of the apparent conspiracy by several retired generals to force the resignation of Donald H. Rumsfeld as secretary of defense (“Seven days in April,” Op-Ed, yesterday), I wish to add my two cents.

I am troubled by the statements of retired U.S. Central Command chief Gen. Anthony Zinni. If news reports are accurate, I believe Gen. Zinni’s recent declarations make him guilty of perjury as well as contempt of Congress.

In an interview on “Meet the Press,” Gen. Zinni said, “And what bothered me [was that] … I was hearing a depiction of the intelligence that didn’t fit what I knew. There was no solid proof, that I ever saw, that Saddam [Hussein] had [weapons of mass destruction].”

In early 2000, Gen. Zinni told Congress, “Iraq remains the most significant near-term threat to U.S. interests in the Arabian Gulf region” and added, “Iraq probably is continuing clandestine nuclear research, [and] retains stocks of chemical and biological munitions … Even if Baghdad reversed its course and surrendered all WMD capabilities, it retains scientific, technical and industrial infrastructure to replace agents and munitions within weeks or months.”

Those two public statements by Gen. Zinni, one while on active duty and presumably under oath before Congress and the other after retiring from the military, are contradictory. Whom do you believe, Zinni 2000 or Zinni 2006?

What Gen. Zinni has succeeded in doing with his recent condemnations of Mr. Rumsfeld has been to bring discredit upon himself. He should be called to account, if not by Congress, then surely by the media.

RICHARD W. RESSLER

North Olmsted, Ohio

Republicans can do better

Michael Zak is right: Republicans should take pride in their role in ending slavery, though I would note that the particular Republicans involved are long dead (“Who killed slavery?” Op-Ed, Monday). Mr. Zak’s quote from Mary Terrell attributing every right ever bestowed on blacks to the Republican Party is also a bit out of date.

Terrell died in 1954, so it couldn’t have been more recent than that. Further, it’s unlikely she said it more recently than 1948, when Harry Truman desegregated the Army.

Clearly, such a statement is untrue today. It was Democratic leadership that dismantled Jim Crow segregation through the Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1968 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Many Republicans opposed this civil-rights progress and cynically exploited it to recruit former Democrats to the Republican Party in the South. The “Solid South” went from solid Democrat to solid Republican as bigoted whites felt their values were better represented by the Republican Party and switched parties in droves.

When the Republicans gave blacks freedom, they were rewarded with loyal votes from blacks for decades — and the antipathy of bigots for decades as well. When the Democrats gave blacks freedom, they also were rewarded with the support of blacks and the antipathy of bigots.

Along the journey, we have made progress, and most people recognize that civil rights for all make America a better place. Republicans need to go back to their roots as strong supporters of freedom and civil rights. The Republican Party has become the party of tax cuts for the wealthy and deficits for all, its only strong civil-rights position being opposition to gay rights. The party of Abe Lincoln and Theodore Roosevelt can do better.

CARL HENN

Rockville

Russia should be wary of Iran

Tsotne Bakuria’s Sunday Commentary column, “Unfinished business,” about Russia’s responsibility — or lack thereof — in regard to the rapidly escalating nuclear standoff with Iran is spot on point. Given the history of Russian and Iranian ties, especially in the context of nuclear energy cooperation, as was so poignantly documented by Mr. Bakuria, you would expect Russia to be the most outwardly concerned party to the current situation.

However, by refusing to impose sanctions and taking the military option off the table, Russia leaves the rest of the world to make the difficult but necessary decisions. All the while, Moscow appears content to accept its investment as lost while hoping its previous good intentions toward Iran will save it from the eminent nuclear holocaust the Iranian mullocracy so craves. In reality, Moscow would bleed under the same nuclear saber as Israel, London and Washington, and its refusal to treat the situation with the severity it demands is unacceptable.

With what would be the unwavering support of the majority of the globe behind it, Moscow needs to capitalize on this golden opportunity to right its wrongs before there is no more Russian civic society to eliminate and no more blatantly fraudulent post-Soviet elections to support. The time is now.

JOHN F. ROTH III

Arlington

Integrity and ambition

To follow up on “Generally speaking… with hindsight,” (Commentary, Monday) and Houston Smith’s letter on critics of Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld (“Rumsfeld and his critics,” Monday), I would like to make several points.

It is a matter of integrity for officers of any rank to “push back” when they sincerely believe either civilian or military leaders are making wrong decisions. These are matters of personal conscience, national security and organizational loyalty (putting yourself at risk to protect a superior from adverse consequences of a bad decision).

Flag and general officers typically are not selected for outstanding integrity; they are selected for their ability to advance the best interests of their service, including their willingness to sacrifice integrity when necessary.

These officers largely made their grade during the Clinton administration, when integrity was a threat, not a benefit, to advancement. Remember that no Clinton cabinet officers resigned to restore their integrity after learning they had been sent out to lie to the public.

During the early ‘60s, three chiefs of Navy bureaus resigned or retired over Lyndon Johnson’s pressure to call the F-111 a carrier-capable aircraft to justify its construction. Their careers ended, the Navy took the carrier USS Midway (CV-41) off line for years and wasted hundreds of millions of dollars converting it for an aircraft it never carried, and no Navy flag officer has resigned in protest of a political decision since then.

Drill down into the substrata of the warriors whom these retired general officers led once they became general officers to see whether they were viewed by their subordinates as men of integrity or political appeasers. Their battlefield competence is not an issue; their willingness to trade personal integrity for personal ambition may be.

BERTRAM D. SMITH JR.

Winchester, Va.

Partisanship and scholarship

Regarding “The Bradley Prizes” (Editorial, April 12), you neglected to mention that one of the four Bradley Prize winners this year, Fouad Ajami, is a past recipient of the MacArthur Fellowship. We select individuals in all walks of life, such as Mr. Ajami, for their creativity, not their ideology. Is there a “liberal” architecture or a “conservative” quantum physics? Viewing the world through partisan spectacles risks missing the big picture.

DANIEL J. SOCOLOW

Director

MacArthur Fellows Program

Chicago

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