- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 5, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Haditha and the law of war

As a former Marine attorney who served in Haditha, I very much appreciate Diana West’s comments (“Defining ‘atrocity,’ ” Op-Ed, Friday). However, her column incorrectly refers to “the case against the seven Marines and one Navy corpsman” in the Haditha incident.

Those eight individuals were involved in the separate Hamdania incident, which has been fully adjudicated. The four officers and four Marines who were charged initially for actions/omissions in Haditha are from a different Marine battalion.

THAD COAKLEY

San Antonio

Diana West’s assertion that the U.S. Marines accused of murdering 24 Iraqis in Haditha are actually innocent victims themselves may be correct, but as she also notes, it is hard to swallow. Only those men who survived that day really know what crimes may have been committed in Haditha.

However, Miss West is far off the mark if she believes false accusations are the “defining atrocity” of Iraq. The war itself is the defining atrocity, and, I will add, a war crime worthy of investigation and punishment.

It is an atrocity for us not to know how many innocent Iraqis have been killed and not to know within 100,000 deaths what the real number may be. Estimates range from 60,000 to many more than 600,000 deaths.

It is an atrocity for an even greater number to be wounded and 2 million more to be displaced from their homes because of the false accusations of the Bush administration and others (including myself) who assumed Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction (WMD) at the time of our invasion.

It would have been an atrocity if we had invaded and Saddam, in retaliation, had released WMD in the form of weaponized smallpox. Such retaliation would have resulted in the deaths of hundreds of millions, perhaps billions of people, including millions of Americans.

It is an atrocity that although everyone insists the war in Iraq can’t be won militarily and that helping the Iraqi people find jobs, clean water, reliable electricity and a safe place to live should be front and center, 95 percent of our expenditures in Iraq have been devoted to kinetic force instead of benevolent kindness.

The real atrocity is believing there is a “law of war.”

War by definition is lawlessness and ensures the mass murder of innocent people even when significant efforts are made to avoid the loss of innocent life. Law implies enforceability. There is no means of enforcing against global violations of war … except by more lawlessness in which innocent people die as a result of war or sanctions.

The U.S. Marines who were “doing their job” in Haditha may not be guilty, but our president and those who elected him (and then re-elected him) are not innocent bystanders. Someone should be held accountable for the massive loss of innocent life, liberty and property. And I don’t mean in the next election.

Impeachment should not be off the table. War crimes are crimes, no matter who commits them. What we need is the global rule of law, in which evidence is considered and differences settled in a courtroom, instead of the fog of war.

CHUCK WOOLERY

Rockville

Government theft in Annapolis

Let us hope the lawsuit filed to nullify the massive tax increase imposed by Maryland’s liberal state legislators is upheld and the taxes negated (“Carroll judge lets new taxes proceed,” Metropolitan, Wednesday).

If it is not, over time we will be seeing the population shift in Maryland from one that is a fair mix of wealthy and middle class, balanced more toward mostly lower-income citizens, who will not be able to afford to move out of our heavily taxed state.

For some reason, liberals and Democrats are unable to grasp the fact that increasing taxes causes behavioral shifts in the citizenry.

When government takes more of our money, we spend less, which contracts the economy. Jobs will leave the state as there will be fewer products to sell here because as the cost of them increases, people buy fewer.

Even with tobacco, we have found that those addicted find taxes will cause them to give up their habit. This is a continuing spiral that will only be stopped with tax cuts, which will, as has been shown, actually increase the revenues to state coffers.

Why simple Economics 101 principles are ignored or not understood by people who are self-proclaimed geniuses is curious. It begs the question of whether our representatives in Annapolis truly have the smarts to govern or are simply very sophisticated grifters.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie

Assessing Iowa presidential caucus results

Gender politics may well be the most overlooked determinant of the Iowa outcomes (“Huckabee, Obama win in Iowa,” Page 1, Friday).

First, radical feminist Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton discovered that she largely has become irrelevant to women, let alone men.

Second, Mr. Domestic Violence, Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., discovered that his support of the Violence Against Women Act which has destroyed more fathers, children,and families than any other congressional act got him exactly 1 percent of the Iowa vote.

Third, while itwould be “greatly exaggerated”to call political correctness dead in Iowa, it clearly is not winning. To see why, read the recently published book by David Paul Kuhn, “The Neglected Voter: White Men and the Democratic Dilemma.”

In my view, the only inherently defensible position is gender equality, and I would urge all candidates to break with political correctness and demand equality for boys and men as well as for girls and women.

GORDON E. FINLEY

Professor of psychology

Florida International University

Miami

How many times can you say the same thing over in different ways and call it change? The Democrats in Congress promised change, and we ended up with the same blame-Bush agenda and a minimum-wage increase and four more years of hearing stagnation. That’s not change; that’s an anomaly on the downward spiral. If you want change, look at the candidates’ success record. If that candidate has been in Washington for the last eight years and a member of Congress, don’t expect too much because there is nothing out there.

LARRY STONE

Agate, Colo.

Well, Iowa voters have spoken: They have designated Gov. Mike Huckabee and Sen. Barack Obama as “Mr. Congeniality” for their respective parties. The two gentlemen were described by every reporter and every voter who got near a microphone or a blog as “likable.”

But, voters beware: We are not conducting a popularity contest. This is a presidential election, and we are selecting a man (or woman) who will have to make unpopular decisions and stand up tobad actors on the international (and sometimes national) stage. Likability won’t cut it: backbone, experience, coolness under pressure, good judgment, and above all an understanding of world politics, are what we need.

We don’t, or shouldn’t, elect presidents because they’re nice guys (or gals). We should elect someone who can do the job, not someone we’d like to have as a best friend.

LYNDA MEYERS

Arlington

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