- The Washington Times - Friday, February 9, 2007

War critics do harm morale

I take issue with those who say “War foes will not hurt morale” (Page 1, Thursday). In 1966 as a young Marine corporal, I sat in one of the many foxholes surrounding the besieged perimeter of our base at Khe Sanh, Vietnam.

One particular night, a friend and I were approached cautiously by a crouching Navy chaplain who asked if we were Catholics. When we answered that we were, he administered absolution, blessed us and wished us luck. The prospect of living through the next day was always chancy, as evidenced by the dead Marines who didn’t make it to sunrise.

I recall as clearly today as I did then, looking to the sky that particular evening and asking how President Johnson could cease air strikes to appease the so-called anti-war movement back home while we were sitting up there, surrounded and taking casualties. I felt utterly betrayed by my country that left us without air cover when we needed it most. My fellow Marines felt the same way.

These thoughts occupy my mind today as I listen, once again, to so-called anti-war activists in the House and Senate raise their voices against funding, oppose reinforcements and threaten resolutions that tell our enemies to hold on because our frontline troops are about to be abandoned once again.

Those who served and died can never be repaid for their sacrifice; those of us who served and lived can only shake our heads while watching it happen all over again.

I love my country and volunteered when I was only 17 years old to serve in the United States Marines, but sometimes my countrymen and our elected officials disgust me.

Sending American servicemen off to war, and then, in the middle of a long, hard, bloody fight, abandoning them, is simply shameful and unfortunately becoming the American way.

The politicians did it to me and those of us who served in Vietnam, and they’re doing it again — cloaking their words in the flag of patriotism. I have earned the right to say they’re not patriots at all, but scoundrels, invoking patriotism in a time of national distress, to betray our troops once again. These wounds will never heal, and their actions do hurt morale.

PAUL JOSEPH WALKOWSKI

Dorchester, Mass.

Free trade with Taiwan

Adding to Bruce Klingner’s article on the need for renewed efforts in U.S.-South Korean free trade negotiations (“Where a trade push is needed,” Commentary, Wednesday), it is worth noting that the United States also has a potential and willing free-trade partner in Taiwan.

Already the United States’ eighth-largest trading partner and the fifth-largest importer of U.S. agricultural goods, Taiwan has long sought a free-trade agreement with the United States and has made impressive advances in its intellectual property protection laws to bring it into compliance with U.S. standards.

Reports by the Washington-based Institute for International Economics found that a Taiwan-U.S. free-trade agreement will increase American exports to Taiwan by $6.6 billion annually, benefiting important sectors of the American economy such as automobile manufacturers and farmers.

Taiwan’s population is also overwhelmingly pro-American, perhaps thanks to the decades-long security relationship the two countries have shared. Indeed, this positive attitude among Taiwanese will allow for greater flexibility and make trade negotiations considerably less contentious.

Finally, a free-trade pact between Washington and Taipei would help create a much-needed “security dividend” on both sides. For Taiwan, it will help attract other bilateral trade partners who face Chinese pressure not to economically engage Taiwan and allow it to continue its role as one of the world’s leading technology innovators.

On the U.S. side, closer economic cooperation with Taiwan will improve access to the world’s leading technology manufacturers while sending a strong, clear signal that America fully supports its democratic ally.

With President Bush’s trade promotion authority set to end this summer, the United States needs to take a long, hard look at the pluses and minuses of all its potential free-trade partners. It may just find that the perfect partner has been sitting under its nose the entire time.

EDDY TSAI

Director

Press division

Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office

Washington

Tackling oil cartels

The editorial “U.S. antitrust, Venezuela and oil prices” (Wednesday) describes OPEC’s price-fixing activities as generally outside current antitrust law because of the sovereignty issue, but further explains that Citgo’s actions might be reviewable. This assertion calls into question why activities of every American oil company shouldn’t be held to the same scrutiny regarding benefits of cartel pricing.

Additionally, it begs the obvious question of why Congress has ignored OPEC’s price-fixing role issue in setting world oil prices relied upon by both domestic and multinational oil industry markets. Why hasn’t Congress addressed this issue, in depth, given its overarching pre-eminence on world economic affairs as well as U.S. security? Even if new laws contain questionable elements concerning the sovereignty question, the effort to pass legislation directed at OPEC’s actions and oil industry windfalls needs to be closely examined now.

Obviously this is an enormously complex issue given U.S. dependence on imports. But that’s not a reason to continue ducking the problem. Let the debate start with your editorial. Watch the multinational oil lobby, which is in OPEC’s pocket, squeal over this one.

J. SOLTER

Jupiter, Fla.

Gun trails

The executive director of theCoalition to Stop Gun Violence’s response to my letter was extremely misleading (“Follow the gun trails,” Letters, Feb. 3).

First, simply repeating the number of transfers investigated by the Clinton administration ignores the issue that I raised: theBureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms investigations were not representative of how the typical criminal got their guns.

It really just shows where the Clinton administration decided to put its investigative resources. For example, if the Clinton administration had decided to only investigate gun shows, they could have said the percentage of investigations involving gun shows was 100 percent. What would that prove?

Second, the possibility that a third party might have gotten a gun from a gun show and then transferred it to someone who used it in a crime will not be prevented by regulations on how guns are sold at gun shows.

Regulations at gun shows could theoretically stop the 0.7 percent of armed criminals who obtained their guns at gun shows, but the regulations will not stop someone who can buy a gun at a gun show from transferring a gun outside the show and the regulatory costs will significantly reduce the number of gun shows by about 14 percent.

Finally, not only is there no academic journal study by economists or criminologists showing that regulations such as the Brady Act reduce violent crime, but even island nations, such as Australia, England and Ireland, with easy borders to defend have seen increases in murder and violent crime after complete or partial gun bans were adopted.

The notion that past gun control failures can be fixed with yet more laws should at some point give pause to even someone from theCoalition to Stop Gun Violence.

JOHN R. LOTT JR.

Dean’s visiting professor

Department of economics

State University of New York at

Binghamton

Binghamton, N.Y.

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