- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 9, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Keep Azerbaijan in check

Thank you for your coverage of Nagorno-Karabakh (“Breakaway state still struggling for recognition,” World, Sept. 30 ).

Since the 1994 cease-fire agreement with Azerbaijan, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic (NKR) has emerged as a free, democratic and well-governed state with an open economy and constructive engagement with the international community.

U.S. humanitarian assistance has helped NKR restore war-torn homes, drinking-water mains and primary health care facilities. We thank the American people for this ongoing, critical support.

Nevertheless, additional assistance is needed to help complete Karabakh’s transition to a free-market economy and also ensure sustained economic development. We hope the United States will again take the lead in opening the way for development aid to Nagorno-Karabakh.

As the article shows, there is a welcome sense of normalcy for people of Karabakh who want to live in peace with their neighbors and go about their daily lives.

However, a threat of a new military attack by Azerbaijan cannot be ignored. Azeri leaders buoyed by booming oil revenues do not hide their plans to initiate a new war if NKR continues to insist on its independence.

While NKR has been improving its defense capabilities, my government also has called upon the international community to keep Azerbaijan’s war plans in check.

Given the military buildup on both sides of the line of contact, a new war would have disastrous consequences for Azerbaijan and Nagorno-Karabakh, with possible spillover beyond the region.

Significantly, a formal recognition of Nagorno-Karabakh’s independence by the United States would only advance the cause of freedom and democracy. It also would help cool Azerbaijan’s revanchist appetites and ensure greater stability in a strategic region.

VARDAN BARSEGHIAN

Representative

Nagorno Karabakh Republic

Washington

Montgomery County braggadocio

In the article “Leggett touts aid by county to illegals” (Metropolitan, Friday) Montgomery County Executive Isiah “Ike” Leggett bragged that Maryland officials are more “enlightened” than their counterparts in Virginia.

He based his comments on Maryland’s higher expenditure of taxpayers’ dollars to aid illegal aliens. That is the typical attitude of a utopian liberal bureaucrat who loves to freely spend taxpayers’ money in support of an illegal activity and against federal immigration law.

I wonder what Montgomery County residents have to say to that, other than those wealthy residents who want their lawns trimmed by illegals.

If Mr. Leggett wants to help illegal aliens, he should use his own money and then be prosecuted for helping illegals break our immigration laws.

Utopian liberals like Mr. Leggett put our nation in danger by undermining our economy through excessive taxation and spending on idiotic things such as helping illegals even at the expense of legal residents.

They also undermine our national security by issuing drivers licenses to illegals, which enables them to board airplanes. Such liberals violate our immigration laws and allow an illegal underclass to exist. This is allowed in a liberal and affluent county such as Montgomery, in a liberal and affluent state such as Maryland.

Eventually a majority of conservative Americans will revolt, fed up with this corrosive liberalism that violates our sovereignty, mocks our laws, undermines our economy and puts all of us in danger, liberals and conservatives alike.

COL. ARNALDO VAQUER

Army (Retired)

Arlington

A LOST cause

Although I am not especially fond of the idea of having retired naval officers carry out a debate in the media, I do not want to let Adm. James Lyons’ piece “U.S. LOST at sea?”(Commentary, Friday) stand as the last word.

It must be understood that most retired senior naval officers who have spent time with the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea — including, apparently, the former chiefs of naval operations — support U.S. approval. The same is true of the Navy League and the Military Officers Association of America, among others. As recently as the Senate hearing on Thursday, the retired vice chief of naval operations strongly urged the Senate to sign us up.

At those hearings, it also emerged that the opposition has adopted a “drag and die” approach. Adm. Lyons echoes that tactic when he complains that the convention is being fast-tracked. The convention has been in Washington since 1982. It has been before the Senate for advice and consent for a dozen or so years. Multiple hearings have been held, and uncounted point papers and briefings have been produced. It is inconceivable to me that there is anything new to say on either side of the debate at this point.

I do not know that it is useful to debate the text of the convention in this forum. Most of us who have worked real-time issues with the convention believe it will not reduce the operational flexibility of our ships and aircraft.

We are at a crucial junction. Deliberations are under way to resolve continental-shelf claims, including those of Russia in the Arctic. The United States needs to have a seat at the table, and we won’t if we aren’t party to the convention. We must either resolve these issues peacefully or spend the next hundred years using force to get access to the oceans’ resources.

It is true that we will have to deal occasionally with the international community under the convention and that we will not always have things our way. Nonetheless, the great weight of expert opinion, particularly among those with a genuine stake in the process, supports the proposition that our long-term security will be advanced by participating in the convention. It is time to give up opposition as a LOST cause and to get on with the business of protecting our oceans’ interest under the convention.

REAR ADM. RICHARD B. SCHIFF

Judge Advocate General’s Corps

Navy (Retired)

Alexandria

Women and combat

Claims made by Elaine Donnelly of the Center for Military Readiness — that a Rand Corp. study on the assignment of Army women was a “whitewash” and that we “deliberately withheld” evidence — are incorrect and not supported by facts (“Pentagon seen failing women,” Nation, Friday).

The purpose of the study was to examine whether the Army’s assignment of women, given operations in Iraq, is complying with both Department of Defense and Army policies.

The study rigorously met that purpose, and no evidence was withheld. As with all of our research, our work was independent and objective, and we did not align our findings to meet the desires of our clients or any other group.

The nature of the conflict in Iraq and the deployment of large numbers of women to Iraq have raised unprecedented challenges for the Army.

Our report clearly outlines the need for the U.S. military to reassess its policies governing women in combat in light of battlefield conditions that make it difficult to determine whether both the spirit and the letter of deployment rules are being followed.

MARGARET HARRELL

Associate director

Forces and Resources Policy Center

National Defense Research Institute

Rand Corp.

Arlington

JIM HOSEK

Director

Forces and Resources Policy Center

National Defense Research Institute

Rand Corp.

Santa Monica, Calif.

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