- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 12, 2007

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Support freedom in Ethiopia

I am writing in response to the article “Ethiopia upset by U.S. bill” (World, Aug. 23). The article includes comments from Ambassador Samuel Assefa that are inaccurate and must be addressed.

As its name indicates, the primary purpose of H.R. 2003, the Ethiopia Human Rights, Democracy Act of 2007, is to promote human rights and democracy. It simply puts the U.S. government on record as supporting fundamental principles — the rights of people to freely elect their government; freedom of assembly, speech and the press — that should be universal minimums.

The regime Mr. Assefa represents has killed and imprisoned men and women who are guilty of nothing more than attempting to peacefully exercise their political rights.

It censors the media, imprisons journalists and has hired experts from China to help it block access to certain Internet sites. While millions of Ethiopians suffer because of failed Communist-style economic policies, Mr. Assefa’s government is spending millions of dollars on lobbyists who are trying to block enactment of H.R. 2003.

These lobbyists derailed legislation in the last session of Congress that was very similar to H.R. 2003.

Mr. Assefa cited Ethiopia’s partnership with the United States in the war on terrorism. The fact is that his government’s policies are creating the circumstances that breed terrorism: ethnic and religious division, economic misery and repression.

The United States has an opportunity to show Ethiopia, and the world, that it means what it says about supporting freedom, democracy, human rights and economic opportunity. Congress should pass, and President Bush must sign, H.R. 2003. Failure to do so will put the American government on the side of a corrupt, brutal dictator.

MESFIN MEKONEN

Coalition for Unity and Democracy

Washington

A slogan devoid of meaning

Concerning “A ‘war of ideas’” (Op-Ed, yesterday): I grant that the anarchic ideology that radical Islam promotes needs to be challenged, but how does the postmodern West fight a “war of ideas” when it largely has abandoned the heritage of ideas that supplied its vigor?

European and American greatness were rooted in an ethos of self-sacrifice, freedom tempered by responsibility, the art of reason and faith in truths, and moral norms that were universally valid and not situationally dependent.

Though there always have been significant numbers outside this ethos, a critical mass of the people and their leaders adhered to it in those Western nations that have shaped liberal democracy.

Today, this ethos is held by a diminishing number of people, and among the intellectual elite, it is almost universally scorned or seen as an impediment to “progress.”

What, then, are the noble ideas we will propose to counter radical Islam: self-indulgence, the license to do what we want when we want to do it, morality that is self-determined or situationally determined, tolerance of everything except firm principles, the rejection of faith and reason as personal lodestars? Until we debate and understand the ideas we are proposing, a war of ideas is a slogan devoid of meaning.

THOMAS M. DORAN

Plymouth, Mich.

Polygamy and the Mormons

The Friday article “Mormon sect loyal to Jeffs” (Culture, et cetera) implied that members of the Mormon Church support polygamists. The term Mormon is embraced by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and does not apply to any of the apostate groups from the LDS church.

It would be accurate to say “polygamous group,” but calling this misguided group a “Mormon sect” sends the message that members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints condone this group’s actions. It could be compared to laying at the foot of the Catholic Church every wrongful act committed by members of Protestant churches. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints officially ended the practice of polygamy more than 117 years ago and stand today as strong advocates of family values.

JACK AND RONDA ROSE

Springfield

Occupied Taiwan

In the column “Taiwan: Still less U.N. respect” (Commentary, Thursday), Don Feder tries to explain why Taiwan meets the criteria for United Nations membership. Although he advances a number of emotionally appealing arguments, his legal rationale still fails to make the laws-of-war distinction between the exercise of “sovereignty” and mere “effective territorial control.”

Background: On Sept. 2, 1945, Gen. Douglas MacArthur issued General Order No. 1, directing Chiang Kai-shek (of the Republic of China) to go to Taiwan to accept the surrender of Japanese troops. The surrender ceremonies on Oct. 25, 1945, marked the beginning of the military occupation of Taiwan. Hence, the announced mass naturalization of local Taiwanese persons as ROC citizens in January 1946, during a period of belligerent occupation, was a serious violation of international law. Moreover, military conscription of local Taiwanese males, instituted in the early 1950s, amounts to an additional violation. Importantly, neither the postwar San Francisco Peace Treaty (SFPT) nor any other legal document has ever transferred the territorial sovereignty of Taiwan to the Republic of China or any other governmental entity on Taiwan.

Since October 1945, Taiwan has been occupied territory, and there has been no change in that status. As can be understood from a careful reading of General Order No. 1 and the postwar SFPT, the principal occupying power of Taiwan is the United States of America, and the U.S. Military Government’s (USMG) jurisdiction over Taiwan is active. The Republic of China officials are merely exercising delegated administrative authority for the military occupation of Taiwan. In December 1949, those officials moved the ROC central government to occupied Taiwan, therefore becoming a government in exile. Since the coming into force of the SFPT in late April 1952, the ROC is not the legal government of Taiwan.

In summary, if the Taiwanese want more representation in international organizations, they should be petitioning the U.S. commander in chief and Congress, not the United Nations. As an overseas territory under the jurisdiction of USMG, Taiwan qualifies as the United States’ sixth major insular area, after Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa, the U.S. Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands. The Taiwanese have the right to establish their own civil government under U.S. authority and to draft their own constitution. Admission to the World Health Organization should be as an associate member under the United States, similar to Puerto Rico’s membership.

ROGER C.S. LIN

Taipei, Taiwan

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