- The Washington Times - Friday, December 29, 2006

Speaking of ringmasters …

The pushback against increasing troop strength in Iraq is not the brainchild of Sen. Joe Biden. It is the expressed counsel of leading military men who have been on the ground in Iraq since the war’s inception, including Gen. John Abizaid. It is the expressed opinion of congressmen who have visited and revisited the war zone. It is the opinion of leading statesmen whose report was published in early December.

The references in the editorial “Biden’s dog and pony show” (Thursday) for enlarging the war included Frederick Kagan a scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. Inasmuch as AEI and its membership represent architects of this war one must ask: “How has that worked out?” Were you to hire an architect to build a house only to have the roof collapse, I am certain you would seek other professionals to repair the damage and assure the overall structure was solid.

To enlist the strategy and tactics of failed architects or a retired general versus those who have been in the battle fails any test of logic. More importantly, the blueprint of the failed architects continues to produce daily death and destruction. The characterization of the opposition as a dog and pony show reveals a lack of support for the troops who are not in a circus tent.

JOAN SALEMI

West Springfield

U.N. relevance, etc.

Contrary to Dennis Behreandt, the United Nations is not a “beast.” Its basic sin is its irrelevance to the serious crises that threaten peace and freedom. The so-called peacekeeping “power” of the Security Council depends on a unanimous vote-a requirement that has never been met on a really serious issue (“U.N. ‘Beast,’ ” Culture, et cetera, Thursday).

In facing the nuclear arms threat in North Korea, for example, the United States and the other interested powers have virtually bypassed the Security Council. The very existence of the U.N. Headquarters in New York sponsors the illusion that this expensive bureaucracy can actually solve conflicts between nation states.

Of course, John Bolton, our recent and realistic ambassador, did what he could to prevent some of the U.N.’s foolishness, but he knew his heroic efforts were largely symbolic.

Not so Secretary of State Cordell Hull, who in 1943 when assessing the embryonic United Nations, predicted that “there will no longer be any need for spheres of influence, for alliances, for balance of power… by which in the unhappy past the nations strove to safeguard their security or to promote their interests.”

Hull, who, FDR called “father of the UN” received Nobel Prize for peace in 1945.

ERNEST W. LEFEVER

Founding president

Ethics and Public policy Center

Chevy Chase

For the record

The article “Most Americans have had premarital sex,” (Web site, Dec. 20) causes unnecessary confusion about the Guttmacher Institute’s recent finding that 95 percent of Americans have sex before they get married. Our analysis is based on data from a U.S. government survey that uses widely accepted techniques for obtaining a representative sample of the American public. The findings are not meant to influence anyone’s decision to have (or not to have) sex. Rather, we hope to encourage our policy-makers to act in the interest of public health by teaching young people a range of options for preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted infections, including — but not limited to — contraceptive use.

The Guttmacher Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization founded in the belief that sound public policy must be rooted in the realities of people’s lives and needs. We urge policy-makers and advocates to join together in finding ways to ensure that it is also safe.

LAWRENCE B. FINER

Director of Domestic Research

Guttmacher Institute

New York, N.Y.

Ground troops?

President Bush’s decision to expand the number of troops in Iraq is more than an acknowledgement that the United States is losing the war. It’s a statement that the United States will rely on conventional military forces in fighting the war against terrorism (“Troop algorithms,” Commentary, Monday).

Mr. Bush has framed the entire rationale for sending additional troops in the context of fighting a long-term war against terrorism. Well, of course we’re going to fight a long-term war against terrorism. But does this mean that we’re going to send endless numbers of particular troops to one particular country without considering troops elsewhere — and without considering other forms of military intervention aside from conventional warfare?

How ironic — and how mortally dangerous — that while rogue, religiously fanatical and medieval regimes, such as Iran, acquire nuclear weapons, that the United States steps into a pre-World War II time machine, operating on the assumption that ground troops are the only defense we have against terrorism.

MICHAEL J. HURD

Bethany Beach, Del.

A Mideast trifecta

After listing several reasons why America might decide not to surge additional troops into Iraq, Frank Gaffney suggests no way to deal with these objections (Surge Protector, Commentary, Dec. 19). He even reports that one option being considered by the president is to maintain an extra 15,000 to 30,000 troops in Iraq for a couple of years. Mr. Gaffney does not refer to this as a “surge,” since surge implies a short time, not as much as a couple of years.

It would not appear that Mr. Gaffney sees much value in “surging” additional troops into Iraq, but he is quick to suggest that that surge should be accompanied by one of his cherished goals: using the U.S. military to overthrow the government in Iran. Iran could then become the third Muslim country we have turned into chaos. We can call this his trifecta.

He wants the United States to use political warfare, information technologies and covert operations inside Iran to bring down the government. If it is legal for the United States to do that, we should not object if the Iranians do the same inside the United States.

ROBERT M. BALZHISER

New York, NY

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