- The Washington Times - Friday, February 16, 2007

Cart before the horse

Given the track record of North Korea’s duplicitous and unpredictable leader, Kim Jong-il, it is unwise to take him at his word, specifically concerning the promise he just made in Beijing to shut down his main nuclear reactor at Yongbyon within 60 days. Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton is right in advising caution (“Bolton hits agreement as ‘bad signal’ to Iran,” Page 1, Wednesday).

The six-party deal struck in Beijing and signed by China, the United States, Russia, Japan and North and South Korea to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear arms program provides Mr. Kim with some wiggle room. You report that under the agreement, “North Korea will receive an immediate shipment … of fuel oil” plus further shipments and other concessions even before the key nuclear facility is closed. Isn’t this putting the cart before the horse?

The Beijing agreement provides a shipment of 50,000 tons of fuel oil in the next two months. Shouldn’t Mr. Kim be required to shut down his entire nuclear arms program before he is rewarded for good behavior? Mr. Bolton wisely says that this concession sends a mixed signal to Iran, which, like North Korea, continues to pursue a dangerous and illicit nuclear arms program condemned by the United States and the U.N. Security Council.

Innocence and good faith may be worthy attributes in children, but these virtues are hardly reliable guides in dealing with leaders of scofflaw states. The Wall Street Journal referred to the six-party agreement as “close to faith-based nonproliferation.”

ERNEST W. LEFEVER

Founding president

Ethics and Public Policy Center

Washington

In defense of nepotism

I really enjoyed reading Dan Daly’s column in which he considered the potential merits of nepotism in coaching (“A solid argument for a little nepotism,” Sports, Thursday). As a Florida State alumni, I’ve had reason to do a little thinking on this subject. (Bobby Bowden’s son, Jeff, recently resigned as the offensive coordinator for the Seminoles.) The column brought up some very interesting and valid points that I had not considered but that make a lot of sense. As a mother of two sons, I wholeheartedly agree that the importance of a father’s impact on their sons’ lives can never be understated. How sad that many men (and women) cannot or will not acknowledge that fact or concede the resulting damage from the unfillable void created by an absentee father.

However, Mr. Daly missed the boat entirely when he concluded by saying that Seattle Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren must be glad he has four daughters. The positive impact a loving and involved father has on the life of his child goes for both sons and daughters. In fact, most experts agree that a father has an even greater impact on his daughter and his absence will produce even more damaging repercussions. I have two terrific sons, but I also have one amazing daughter, and I can tell you the things my daughter learns from her father: She is valued. She is valuable. She is beautiful, inside and out. She is tough. She deserves to treated with respect and gentleness. She is smart. She is capable. She can hit a baseball and sink a three-pointer. She is glorious in her ballerina tutu, whether onstage or performing in the family room. She is very important to her father, who loves her and cherishes her beyond measure.

These are the lessons all girls need to learn, and no one can teach them like a daddy. Looks like some fathers will need to find positions on staff for their daughters as well.

AMY GALLOWAY SHUFORD

Watkinsville, Ga.

Nothing less than total victory

Having just returned from Iraq, and having come out of retirement to go there, I have to say a loud and thunderous “amen” to Cal Thomas’ “A letter from Mosul” (Commentary, Wednesday).

I can tell you that the greatest fear of the young service members over there is that the American public will fail to pursue total victory and will leave early, thereby wasting their battle buddies’ life and blood.

They feel pain every time somebody pays lip service to his or her conscience with the line: “I support the troops, but not the policy.” The soldiers, Marines, sailors, airmen and airwomen all know they are the policy and that you should feel shame if you as an American would commit them to anything less than total victory.

Every one of them daily offers up his or her life — as did I, and now my son does — for your right to protest and dissent, but now that the battle has been joined, we as a nation are obligated to nothing less than seeing this through to total victory. Have we forgotten what it cost us; have we forgotten President Kennedy’s promise to “pay any price, bear any burden”?

The greatest memorial we could give the more than 3,000 Americans who were murdered on September 11 is total victory. Another 3,000 thought their lives were worth that price.

The question, then, is: Why can’t you support that victory?

JOHN MCFARLANE

Elizabethtown, Ky.

Our irreconcilable conflict

In his Feb. 8 Op-Ed column, “Why Americans hate Congress,” Gary Andres lists several critical problems facing the United States and attributes partisanship to congressional failure to produce solutions. This is hardly a new idea; it is a well-known belief held by voters of the moderate or pragmatic centrist persuasion. I suggest it is time to consider this alternative explanation: Our nation is confronted with an irreconcilable conflict.

One side of the present struggle consists of Americans who identify primarily with this nation, which they see as unique. Moreover, they view our nation and its history as one of the crowning achievements of Western civilization — the civilization that created the modern world.

These Americans seek to continue living in accordance with their core values — the idea that liberty and progress can be sustained through the harmonious coexistence of secular knowledge and a religiously based moral order. To establish and preserve this harmonious condition, our nation fought and won many great battles — first to secure independence, then to end slavery and thereafter on several occasions to defend the civilization against tyranny in its many forms.

In response to critics, these Americans answer as follows: We acquired our land by conquest in the same way that every other nation on the planet was formed. The people of the West created their own wealth primarily through hard work, an avenue of progress that is open to all peoples.

The suggestion that we achieved our position in the world through the exploitation of others is little more than an unsubstantiated insult derived from a misreading of history.

The opposite side consists of Americans who view other actual and potential identities as equal to or even ahead of this nation. They are ashamed of American history and the history of Western civilization, and they view the Judeo-Christian moral code as unacceptably harsh and confining. Many on this side believe that Americans, particularly white Americans, must atone for sins against humanity and accept whatever punishment ensues.

Mr. Andres urges compromise, but only the pretense of compromise is possible between pride and shame or between living by a durable moral code and altering it whenever there is an objection. In this circumstance, our political leaders have long sought to deceive themselves and others in order to hide the fact that they have no intention of resolving the conflict. Long ago, during the American Civil War, Abraham Lincoln told the people that a nation divided on fundamental questions cannot long stand. Neither, I think, can a nation that is ashamed of itself.

ROBERT LEVINE

Sierra Vista, Ariz.

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