- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Trading with Taiwan

Discussing U.S.-Taiwan relations, Taiwanese diplomat David Lee noted that “a proposal for a free-trade accord… has received only a ‘lukewarm’ welcomesofarin Washington”(“Taiwan confident Hu visit will not hurt its ‘interests,’ ” Page 1, yesterday). This is mainly because the People’s Republic of China, insisting that Taiwan is a province of China, strongly opposes a U.S.-Taiwan free-trade agreement on the grounds that it would imply that Taiwan is a separate country. This shortsighted approach is harming China as well as Taiwan.

Because of its proximity to the People’s Republic of China as well as its Chinese heritage, Taiwan is uniquely well-suited to help American businesses expand into China. The million Taiwanese living there — most of whom are involved with the Taiwanese companies that have invested more than $100 billion in China — could serve as facilitators for U.S.-Chinese business dealings while continuing to promote sound business practices among their Chinese colleagues.

The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that a U.S.-Taiwan free-trade agreement would increase Taiwan’s exports to the U.S. by 18 percent and U.S. exports to Taiwan by 16 percent. The resulting profits could be invested in China, thus creating a win-win-win situation for all three parties.

If Beijing would treat the proposed free-trade agreement as what it is — an economic and trade issue rather than a political one — this would greatly ease the growing tensions in the Taiwan Strait and help promote the closer Chinese-Taiwanese cooperation Beijing claims to desire.

LORNA HAHN

Executive director

Association on Third World Affairs

Washington

Stay the course in Iraq

A cabinet official is not just a single person. He is a symbol of the agency he represents and the embodiment of U.S. policy spearheaded by his agency.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld represents U.S. civilian control over our military forces throughout the world, including in Iraq. If he resigned, as some retired generals are urging, it would send the wrong message to the world and to the fledgling Iraqi government and the people who elected it that the U.S. is losing the war. It also would, as Cal Thomas wrote yesterday (“Retired summer soldiers,” Commentary), “further embolden America’s enemies who are betting the United States… lacks the stomach for protracted conflict.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

If the war is being lost, which is a big “if,” it is not the U.S. that is losing it, but Iraqi forces who are not uniformly and effectively standing up in defense of their own country, and interlopers who are capitalizing on internal discord.

If Mr. Rumsfeld resigns, it would be a humiliating gesture for the U.S. to make in front of the world. It not only would admit defeat, but also would signify that we do not follow through on our commitments.

We need to show resolve in turning over the military campaign to Iraqis so they can fight their own battles as they are being trained and come on board. Until we completely turn over these reins to the Iraqi military and, ultimately, to an international peacekeeping force, we have to stay the course.

We need a strong and credible defense secretary who, through our military, will guide us, the Iraqi people and their military through its minefields, both literally and figuratively. War is, of course, still hell. That’s not Mr. Rumsfeld’s fault.

ONA BUNCE

Bethesda

What Rumsfeld symbolizes

I don’t know if all those retired generals criticizing the war effort are right or wrong, but I think their views need to be heard and considered (“Gen. Myers says critics of Rumsfeld out of line,” Page 1, Monday). The Bush administration has scared a lot of Americans by saying it’s going to follow its plan regardless of all the evidence that the plan isn’t working.

I think there would be a lot more confidence in President Bush if he seemed to have the capacity to admit mistakes and move to correct them.

His supporters aren’t helping him when they rush to attack the sanity, integrity and motives of anyone who criticizes his policies. Bush supporters try to prevent dissenting views by labeling those who question the war as subversives, traitors, friends of the terrorists, America-haters and crazed radicals.

Along the way, they have smeared anyone who has disagreed with them. Lifelong public servants such as Richard Clarke and Joe Wilson, lifelong conservatives such as William Buckley and George Will, and now even American generals, including those who led ground troops in Iraq as recently as 2004.

There is no fact that can’t be dismissed, no source whose motives are beyond reproach, no event that can’t be blamed on others. Their beliefs are in place forever and cannot be changed by any fact.

They are clinging for dear life to a resolute fantasy life, and the person most afflicted with this fact-immune syndrome is the person who resides in the White House and will control our government for the next three years: George W. Bush.

It’s very dangerous for a volatile situation to be controlled by someone who believes in his own rightness more than facts and reality.

WILLIAM STOSINE

Iowa City, Iowa

Marylanders get what they voted

Why are Maryland residents unhappy about the pending rise in electric utility rates (“Voters blame lawmakers for rate increases,” Metropolitan, Tuesday)? After all, for the past 30 years, environmentalists have recommended increasing energy prices to “save the planet” from air pollution and an imminent global-warming disaster, and the good voters of Maryland dutifully have elected politicians who have heeded that call.

Sky-high electric bills and $3-(or more)-a-gallon gasoline prices should make Maryland voters among the happiest people in the world. They asked for it. They voted for it.

Now they’re going to get it.

ROGER JOHNSON

Kensington

The Iranian question

As Tod Lindberg writes, we see the gathering storm over the underground Iranian nuclear factories, and we should choose not to dither (“Menacing hindsight,” Op-Ed, Tuesday). The theocrats running Iran and the true believers engineering their quest for nuclear weapons are consumed by hatred for the West. At best, they want to subjugate us; at worst, they want to kill us and use our heads as totems of their glorious resurgence. The caliphate they yearn to establish does not accommodate our Bill of Rights or anything else not steeped in Shariah. Our European allies have tried the talking cure with the Iranians for the past few years and have accomplished nothing of note with respect to deterring the nuclear effort. Talking with these theocrats may bore them to death, but it will not stay their murderous hand. As Mr. Lindberg indicates, history has a way of repeating itself, which is why we must learn from it.

What to do? If we lack the stomach, and I suspect that we do, to bomb the nuclear facilities, we must devise an alternate strategy. We must return, as the Lone Ranger and his faithful sidekick, Tonto, did, to the days of yesteryear, when mutual assured destruction held the Soviet Union at bay. Let us form a treaty-codified coalition with NATO and Israel to confront any potential Iranian use of nuclear weapons. Let us assure Iran’s destruction should it ever use or provide to others a nuclear weapon. Let us promise to render Iran radioactive for decades to come should the mad mullahs ever launch an atomic attack.

Does this sound apocalyptic? You bet it does, but these may be, as the deluded president of Iran believes, the end times. Will this work? Have you a better idea?

PAUL BLOUSTEIN

Cincinnati

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