U.N. kowtows to Beijing
For the second time, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has returned, unopened, a letter from Taiwan seeking membership in the international body ("Taiwan chastises Ban for spurning U.N. letter," World, Thursday). A peace-loving, prosperous democracy of 23 million people wants to join the supposedly universal organization in order to help further its stated goals, and the head of that organization refuses even to look at its application?
Instead of bowing blindly to China's desire to isolate Taiwan, Mr. Ban should be exploring ways to have Taiwan participate in U.N. activities. Full membership for Taiwan obviously is out of the question, given China's veto in the Security Council, but surely ways could be found to let Taiwan work with the World Health Organization, UNESCO and other bodies to which it could make valuable contributions.
As the major funder of the United Nations, the United States should insist that Mr. Ban seriously examine such possibilities.
Association on Third World Affairs
Don't mix government and religion
Kirby Wilbur's speech at the National Conservative Student Conference ("Religious foundation," Culture, et cetera, Wednesday) though containing useful information, did not get the story completely straight.
Yes, the Declaration of Independence says that liberties come from a Creator, but the Constitution itself mentions only "We the people" and not the deity. Further, the Declaration was written as a revolutionary document to rally Americans to the cause and to counter the European notion of the divine right of kings.
If rights come from the Creator, why was this not expressed until 1776 — and then only for white males in America? And why haven't rights been more widely distributed around the globe?
What makes sense is that people conceive of and define rights, struggle to win them and then build the machinery to protect them, whatever anyone might think of their divine or human origin. Further, government can take away our rights, and it is up to us, we the people, to see that this does not happen.
Americans for Religious Liberty
Natural farming beats biotech
I refer to Henry Miller's Aug. 12 Commentary column, "Biotech to bring home the bacon?": Wake up everyone — these improvements to livestock are already attainable by natural farming and breeding methods.
It boils down to nutrition and genetics, not transgenics. Healthy soil equals healthy environment (water and plants) equals healthy animals and healthy humans, all achieving their potential. We do not need patented irreversible transgenic technology, which only serves to improve the bottom line of patent-holding multinational corporations.
Take a stand and demand real nutrition in the form of untweaked natural foods, which need to be labeled accordingly. Do your own homework, too, and research just how poorly transgenic crops and foods have been tested in the most unscientific manner.
Diversity's unproven strengths
I agree with Georgie Anne Geyer's conclusion that the pursuit of multiculturalism in American life has had a dubious outcome ("The case against multiculturalism," Commentary, Thursday), but her definition of the term is wrong. The multiculturalism advocates are not arguing that everyone is equal, but that in diversity lies some sort of strength.
As a college instructor, I know of no studies that confirm this notion; its proponents, however, accept it as true on its face. The only-equality argument favors equal access to higher education, for example. Arguably, allowing unqualified and less qualified students into America's colleges for the sole purpose of increasing diversity has produced just a dumbed-down system. It also is of no use to most of its beneficiaries because they usually struggle to stay afloat in an environment for which they are not prepared to succeed.
The dropout rates of students admitted into college to provide diversity testify to the failure of the effort. However, Mrs. Geyer is wrong in her definition of multiculturalism. It is a celebration of difference, not similarity.
Even more missile defense
I am gratified that Stanley Orman and Maj. Gen. Eugene Fox now agree that the testing of the airborne laser, scheduled for summer 2009, should be fully funded — as the House appropriators have done and as I advocated in my original Op-Ed column on missile defense, rather than having the funds deleted, as the House Armed Services Committee preferred ("Still more on missile defense," Letters, Thursday).
For some unfathomable reason, they then conclude that the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) and its supporters are somehow reluctant to test the technologies we have developed to defend the people of the United States and our allies and friends overseas. Since the beginning of the Bush administration, the MDA has put together a robust test program, second to none, that is designed to "build and field a militarily useful capability in an urgent manner," coupled with a C2BMC — command, control, battle management and communications — infrastructure to enable combatant commanders, that is, war fighters, to have the necessary technology to defend America. In that period, they have successfully concluded nearly 30 hit-to-kill intercepts as well as dozens of additional successful tests involving radars, sensors and interceptors. Over the past year, we have successfully concluded 35 major tests, including successful flight tests in 14 of 15 events. In a 90-day period last summer, we successfully intercepted missiles in the lower and upper atmosphere and in space with four different missile-defense systems. The planned future test schedule is the most robust in the history of missile defense in this country.
One indication of the value of the currently proposed missile-defense technologies is whether our sister nations around the world are joining this effort. Japan, Denmark, Great Britain, Canada, Germany, Italy, Taiwan, the Republic of Korea, Poland, the Czech Republic, a number of Gulf states and Australia, to mention the most prominent, are beginning the process of deploying missile-defense systems to protect their people from emerging ballistic-missile threats.
Radars in Greenland and England have been completed; Japanese investment in Aegis cruisers has accelerated to more than $1 billion annually; Germany and Italy are investing $1 billion annually in the Medium Extended Air Defense (MEADS) programs; and Australia has just announced its intention to purchase Aegis-based interceptors. Mr. Orman and Gen. Fox appear now to believe in test, test and more test. I believe in test, deploy and defend. So do the American people and our friends around the world.