- The Washington Times - Monday, December 4, 2006

‘All about me’ society

Richard Fairbanks and Paul Hewitt left something out in their Thursday Commentary column, “A Boomer budget bust?” That is: Why are we in this situation of Social Security (plus Medicare and Medicaid) being in need of repairs? It is the “all about me” society in which we live.

We hear it advertised all day, every day: “You deserve it”; “you are worth it”; “you only go round once in life.” While convincing us that we are so important that we need to buy whatever is being advertised, the ads also take away our concern about others and the future.

Year after year, liberal or conservative, politicians entrusted with our Social Security monies have been just as manipulated. They have strayed away from doing what is right for the country and become more interested in doing what is right for them.

Their mentality is: “What can I do to remain in power? … What can I do for my constituents right now that will get their vote? … What can I buy them?” The voters like the immediate benefits just as the politicians like staying in power.

In the present, it is a win-win situation, but in the future, the politicians won’t be there, and the people will lose. What politician would get (re)elected saying no to new museums, bridges and roads; no to keeping military bases open; or no to more benefits programs? None, so none of them votes that way.

When someone comes along and recommends that people be allowed to keep their money and save for their own retirements, the politicians again say no — because that money is their power. The politicians would counter by saying the common man cannot be trusted to be responsible for himself, as in the proposed personal accounts. Wouldn’t that be the pot calling the kettle black?

STEPHEN WHIPPLE

Arlington

Zero in on the threat

Rep. Charles Rangel says we all should contribute to the war effort as we did in World Wars I and II. He is not the only political leader to make recommendations driven by some analogy between previous wars and the so-called war on terror.

Sen. Edward M. Kennedy likes to use “quagmire” as a favorite expression, harking back to the Vietnam conflict. Sen. John Kerry’s and Rep. John Murtha’s Vietnam experiences convince them that we must get out of Iraq. Sen. John McCain’s Vietnam experience leads him to the opposite conclusion. He wants more troops on the ground.

Overindulgence with the minutiae of Iraq and Afghanistan, seeking enlightenment from analogies to past battles, has come at the expense of ignoring the global threat from Islamofascists that has no analogy in the past.

Even so, it is useful to review the past in a larger context to reveal the path we traveled to get where we are. World War I was in the tradition of previous wars between empires to occupy territory.

World War II was essentially a war between nation-states, although Britain was a nominal empire and Japan had an emperor. It also was waged essentially for territorial gain but with an ideological element — Nazism/fascism in the European theater and Shintoism in the Pacific theater. The Cold War that followed World War II was essentially an ideological war between communist totalitarianism and free-market liberalism. It had a territorial component not for physical occupation, but to gain orbits of ideological influence.

With all due respect to Mr. Rangel, we are in a totally ideological global war based on religion. We are against enemies (Islamofascists) who think they have license from God to kill us. They operate secretly from weak nations as they did in Afghanistan and will do so from a weakened Iraq.

The battle was over in Afghanistan when the Taliban fell. The battle was over in Iraq when Saddam fell and his army dissolved. Even Henry Kissinger got it wrong when he said a military victory is not possible in Iraq. Military victory is not what we seek there. We already have that. What we seek, in Afghanistan as well, is to deny Islamofascists any base of operations for their global jihad against Western civilization.

Islamofascism’s only effective weapon is brainwashed terrorists. We must learn how to fight this new enemy on its terms instead of harking back to the ancient history of World War II, which required a draft for a large armed force.

What we need is small, highly trained military special operations forces to wage unconventional warfare against the unconventional enemy who represents no nation and wears no uniform. We also need a large civilian force of intelligence people who can infiltrate enemy ranks in all the countries where they hide. Neither objective can be achieved through a compulsive military or civilian service imposed indiscriminately on our youth.

We can acquire the highly qualified talent for these elite services only through an aggressive recruitment regime and at much less cost than the universal draft altruistically advocated by Mr. Rangel.

ALI F. SEVIN

Fort Washington

Ecuador’s anti-drug stance

The article entitled “New Leader Vows to Oust Anti-drug Squad” (World, Thursday), contains factually incorrect information that the Ecuadorian Embassy would like to correct.

Contrary to the statement included in the article, Ecuador is the only Andean country that does not produce drugs. As such, Ecuador has been a crucial, willing and committed partner of the United States in the fight against drug trafficking in Latin America. Ecuador is home to the only U.S. anti-drugs military facility in the region.

Furthermore, in relation to the Manta airbase, the article implies that arrests by U.S. officials have taken place in Ecuadorian territory. This is simply not true. No outside authority has the legal right to make arrests in Ecuador’s sovereign territory, and no such unauthorized actions have ever taken place. All arrests have been made by Ecuadorian authorities.

The article was published at a critical legislative time, as the 109th Congress considers the extension of the Andean Trade Promotion and Drug Eradication Act (ATPDEA) for all four Andean countries. ATPDEA is a proven measure of U.S. foreign policy in the region and a key tool in sustaining bilateral cooperation and maintaining Ecuador’s status as the only country that does not produce drugs in the Andes. This misinformation is a great disservice to the legislative process and to your influential readership.

AMBASSADOR LUIS

GALLEGOS

Embassy of Ecuador

Washington

Israel and its neighbors

William Garrett’s letter decrying Israel’s “installation” back in 1948 presents an interesting take on history (“The Israel problem,” Saturday). Unlike countless past examples wherein the former lands of country X become, through the spoils of war, the newly added real estate of country Y, the case of Israel was one of a U.N. assignment of territory chiefly because of the way the Jews were treated by Germany’s Third Reich.

The scattered Jews, it was believed, needed a homeland. The United Nations might have chosen Arizona or the Solomon Islands or Nova Scotia, but the logical choice was the Jewish people’s ancient homeland between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, a place where most of their famous history had taken place with all that we recall from Sunday school. The last time Israel was a viable nation, in fact, had ended when Titus and his Roman legions came to town in A.D. 70.

There never was any “ethnic cleansing” of the indigenous people. They were given an equal opportunity by the United Nations to occupy about half of Transjordan, as it was called at the time, with Israel given the other portion.

There was, and is, plenty of space for all comers. The partition plan was fairly equitable, but — like today — the Arabs said no, no, a thousand times no. Never mind that the entire area was essentially a wasteland fit only for jackals and owls or that the Jews were then — as they are today — perfectly willing to live in peace next door to (or even among) their enemies, so long as their enemies cease and desist their incessant attacks.

The real estate Israel has taken since then — and largely given back in a series of foolish and vain peace offerings — came from war with its neighbors. Those wars (1948, 1967, 1973 and others) were not entered into because Israel just wanted more land — they were caused by the imminent threats its neighbors and would-be killers posed.

The situation isn’t likely to find resolution by human means.

JACK WEBB

Springfield

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