- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 1, 2007

A question of leadership

The situation in Iraq is dire, but Adm. William Fallon, the military leader selected to oversee the president’s new war strategy, doesn’t know what is going on (“ ’I don’t know the details’: Bush pick hazy on Iraq plan at hearing,” Page 1, Wednesday). The admiral said he believes the situation in Iraq can be turned around but noted that “time is short.” After this dismal performance, our nation can only pray his learning curve is brief and whatever plan he is to execute is sound.

Many look to Congress to help fix the mess, but the Senate Armed Services Committee debacle on Tuesday extended far beyond the apparently uninformed Adm. Fallon. With lives and our nation’s future in the balance, the man who will lead the battle professed ignorance, and our senators responded by expressing surprise and being startled. Oversight of such caliber is destined to put nothing right.

Adm. Fallon suffers no confusion when it comes to Iran. His observation that that nation is a threat and his suggestions about regional tactics to counter the menace elicited little from our senators: no nose for the evidence at hand, no recognition that a naval officer trained to pay attention to detail had many more particulars about Iran than Iraq, no concern that we may be on the threshold of a new military situation encompassing the entire Gulf region. Apparently it is better to be incurious about matters you may be able to impact, and be held accountable for, and focus instead on drafting nonbinding resolutions. So much for stewardship.

It is often remarked that a people get the leadership they deserve. Our nation plainly deserves much better.

TYLER KOKJOHN

Glendale, Ariz.

Scare tactics

In response to the Jan. 26 Op-Ed column “Losing the trade war,” by Robert Lighthizer, I would like to note a few facts that Mr. Lighthizer failed to mention in his analysis. The article is reminiscent of protectionist scare tactics used against the Japanese in the 1980s, when the common view was that the U.S. manufacturing sector was dying and we all would end up flipping hamburgers as a result of unfair Japanese trade practices. In 2007, he says, “America’s manufacturing sector is literally disappearing before our eyes” and there is “daily evidence of the fading viability of American manufacturing.” Here are a few facts from the U.S. Census Bureau that he ignored.

1. From 1999 to 2005, manufacturing sector sales revenue increased 30.4 percent.

2. From 2004 to 2005, manufacturing sales revenue increased 9.6 percent.

3. In the first half of 2006 compared with the first half of 2005, manufacturing sales revenue increased 9.3 percent.

4. Durable manufacturing, important to the steel sector, has seen similar increases.

5. Profitability of American manufacturing also has been strong, especially in the past few years.

Do these data suggest the end of U.S. manufacturing? Hardly. They show a manufacturing sector constantly adjusting to the market and international and domestic competition and succeeding.

Yes, employment has continued to decline in manufacturing, as it has for decades because of improvements in productivity. This trend is the same in all developed economies. Clearly, some of the lost jobs are caused by the transfer of manufacturing to other countries, but according to government data, the greatest job declines come in export-dependent industries, not in import-sensitive industries, with the exception of textiles. Jobs also are added. In the steel industry, new investment and new capacity are being built around the country.

The bottom line is that American manufacturing is alive and well in the United States. It’s so healthy, in fact, that American manufacturing regularly demands more steel than the American steel industry can manufacture — even in 2006, a record year for U.S. steel industry output and profits. In 2006, America imported 25 percent of its finished steel supply just to keep our factories operating. U.S. steel companies themselves had a record year for imports of steel, too.

Americans have been the biggest beneficiaries of trade liberalization since it began in the post-World War II era. Mr. Lighthizer’s Op-Ed column is pure scare tactic. Such statements were wrong when Japan was the target in the 1980s, and they are wrong again today.

DAVID PHELPS

President

American Institute for

International Steel

Washington

No two wars alike

Comparing Iraq to other wars such as Vietnam and World War II can be helpful, but it also can be detrimental. It appears to me that those who want to view the Iraq war as a noble thing frame it in comparison to World War II. Those who seek to frame Iraq as a “quagmire” and a blundering mistake frame it in comparison to Vietnam (“Iraq is no ‘Nam,” Op-Ed, Wednesday).

I happen to think that comparing Iraq to any other war in order to justify or vilify it is a monumental mistake.

First, framing it in comparison to Word War II requires us to think about how we feel about that war: Was it “good” or “bad?” Most Americans generally have a positive view of our involvement, even in the European theater.

What is interesting is that American public opinion at the time was against fighting in Europe. Since that war has been over, Americans increasingly have seen our involvement as noble, even constructing the notion that it was waged to save the Jews.

Though it is true that many Jews were saved, this was a byproduct of our actions. The United States had no idea what was happening to the Jews until very near the end of the war. Now we can frame Iraq in reference to World War II as a noble cause because we are “liberating” the Iraqis.

Iraq is compared to Vietnam first because both wars started with popular support, which waned as the wars continued. Vietnam was waged in order to stop the “domino effect,” the perpetual spread of communism across Southeast Asia.

Therefore Vietnam was fought over ideology when the United States had no tangible interest in the region. This is unlike the Middle East, where the United States, and indeed the world market, have a definite interest.

What is left out of the discussion in reference to Vietnam-Iraq comparisons, and most discussions on Vietnam, are the estimated 1.7 million Cambodians slaughtered after the United States left in 1975. From 1975 to 1979, 21 percent of Cambodia’s population was destroyed. How many will die in Iraq when we leave is yet to be determined.

When comparing the war in Iraq to other wars, we must first understand that our idea of a particular war is clouded by time and nostalgia, making it appear more noble than it was. Also, when comparing two of anything, we must remember the ills and evils of our own actions if we truly want to avoid repeating them.

DANIEL L. HUNTER

McMinnville, Ore.

Unbiased prosecution, please

Carla Del Ponte’s departure from the war-crimes tribunal in The Hague is long overdue and has been much desired by many who cherish and truly understand international law (“Chief prosecutor to step down,” World Scene, Wednesday).

Over the course of eight years, Mrs. Del Ponte has demonstrated time and time again her bias against the Serbian people by failing to investigate and prosecute crimes committed against them.

Balkan leaders such as Franjo Tudjman and Alija Izetbegovic were investigated belatedly, begrudgingly and half-heartedly only to pass away conveniently before justice could be delivered.

To resolve the many grievances in the Balkans and stop the horrible cycle of violence that has torn apart southeastern Europe, we must establish an independent truth commission and a truly fair judicial body that will investigate and prosecute all crimes committed against all innocent civilians regardless of ethnicity.

MICHAEL PRAVICA

Henderson, Nev.

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