Summer of sequels
In a manner that resembles a bargain-bin remake of a B movie, President Bush seems determined to resurrect the deceased Senate amnesty bill. Unlike the Hollywood blockbusters that have people lined up around the block, this sequel has the director going door-to-door in the Senate just to find an audience.
Many of us have already spent a lot of money this summer to see a third Spiderman movie and another installment of the Pirates of the Caribbean. Moviegoers have even spent good money to see an animated ogre in tights, but they dread "The Return of the Undead Amnesty."
American citizens are overwhelmingly against the Senate amnesty proposal. The public rose up and Republican Senators responded to kill the bill. But, in an apparent attempt to end his term with a zero percent approval rating, the president is investing the last of his political capital to resurrect a measure that will only continue to anger the country.
A good sequel builds on a popular story. It motivates people to spend a few bucks on admission and popcorn, and provides an entertaining experience. But this sequel will destroy the rule of law, wreak havoc on the middle class and leave Americans with heartburn that will last for generations. The return of the Senate amnesty bill is a sequel that must never be made.
REP. STEVE KING
Countering Hamas' influence
Part of a counterinsurgency struggle as we know is the effort to win hearts and minds. There is no better technique to incubate democracy in the hearts and "souls" of students in the Middle East to counter, for example, Hamas's "hardline rhetoric" in social-studies readers in the Palestinian territories ("Hamas permeates public schools," Briefing, Middle East, Wednesday) is to introduce more Western-oriented approaches to knowledge and belief.
Values of initiative and individualism instilling skepticism and the process of questioning everything, including "received" knowledge, would inculcateWestern-oriented thought processes and teach the ideology of freedom and true democracy beyond "free" elections that can institutionalize Islamofascism.
In fact, Western ideologies, as well as those of moderate Islamic parties — such as that of the "secular Palestinian intelligentsia" mentioned in the article — need to take back the schools.
The other "educational" systems (common in al Qaeda strongholds) for winning hearts and minds from childhood on are madrassas. The madrassas not only provide education, but in many places, especially under al-Qaeda auspices, establish a "welfare" system to lure students into indoctrination by providing all their basic needs, along with 24/7 radical anti-Western and even anti-Muslim ideologies under an Islamic cover.
We should assist in the establishment of moderate counter-madrassas — feeding, clothing and teaching the values of democracy.
There are potential models in the Muslim world, for example nascent democratic practices in some of the Gulf states, as well as Turkish democracy, now being practiced by an Islamic political party controlling the government, and even in Iraq, which will become a more plausible model after we "draw down."
We need to "recruit" a generation of Muslims by offering alternatives to education that glorify suicide bombing by glorifying freedom fighters with the basics of true freedom.
ONA M. BUNCE
Reason for optimism at the U.N.
A recent editorial on U.N. corruption contains a couple of inaccuracies that merits correction ("Banning U.N. corruption," Monday).
First, the editorial was right to note that Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has taken a personal interest in reforming the United Nations, particularly in regards to malfeasance on the part of staff members and officials serving in the organization. The case of Sanjaya Bahel is a testament to Mr. Ban's convictions.
However, it should be noted that the announcement of replacements in the top posts at the United Nations came at the urging of a number of countries, especially from the United States, and it had more to do with clearing the board to make way for political appointments. The rationale behind the hiring and firing of the top staff was not simply to end widespread corruption, as the editorial wrongly implies.
Anyone who closely followed the United Nations during the first weeks of Mr. Ban's entrance into the organization knows that when Mr. Ban chose his officials for these top posts, he was being pressured by the United Nations' most powerful players, such as the United States, Japan the United Kingdom and France, to fill these posts with nationals from their countries. Merit, gender or regional representation was not a major factor in these appointments, nor was it part of an effort to weed out corruption.
Second, while it is true that Mr. Ban's effort to restructure the peacekeeping department started on a "rocky footing," he was not "forced to shelve his plans," as the editorial reports. After long and difficult consultations with member states in the first two months of his tenure, Mr. Ban managed to mobilize widespread support for his proposal from nations in both the developed and developing world.
Then, in March, the General Assembly passed a resolution — by consensus — giving overwhelming endorsement to his plan for the restructuring, and since then, the drive to reorganize peacekeeping operations is poised to become a reality. As such, the current picture does indeed encourage optimism.
ROBERT W. HSU
A distinction Pace doesn't deserve
In regard to the decision not to reappoint Gen. Peter Pace, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman ("Pace casualty of party politics," Nation, Wednesday): The last chiefs not to be reappointed were Gens. Lyman Lemnitzer and Maxwell Taylor. But the circumstances of their non-reappointment were far different than those of Gen. Pace.
Gen. Lemnitzer had been appointed by President Eisenhower in 1960. President Kennedy chose not to reappoint him in 1962. Gen. Taylor had been appointed by Kennedy to succeed Gen. Lemnitzer. He resigned as chairman when President Johnson asked him to serve as ambassador in South Vietnam.
Thus, Gen. Pace now has the dubious distinction of being the only chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff not to be reappointed by the president who appointed him in the first place — a fate he doesn't deserve. Our postwar occupation policies of Iraq were made by President Bush, not his advisers. Moreover, one reason he was not reappointed appears to be that Senate Democrats have indicated they will apply political litmus tests to candidates for positions on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
Had Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt applied political litmus tests for his military chiefs in World War II, he would have done without the services of Gens. Dwight Eisenhower, George Patton, Douglas MacArthur and probably even Gen. George Marshall, to name just a few.
The prospective politicization of the Joint Chiefs by the Democrats and the Bush administration's acquiescence in this politicization is an ominous threat to America's security.