Military endorsements harm national interest
On the subject of senior retired officers endorsing a presidential candidate (“Military endorsements,” Editorial, Oct. 8), no one questions their right to do so only their judgment.
I oppose such endorsements because they will harm civilian-military cooperation and trust, undermine the American people’s trust in their military establishment, and thus ultimately endanger national security.
The Times was right to criticize media silence on the issue in 1992. But the fundamental issue is not partisanship. While the first modern endorsement of this kind apparently was Gen. P.X. Kelley’s co-chairmanship of Veterans for Bush in 1988, the endorsement by Adm. William Crowe and others of then-Gov. Bill Clinton in 1992 worsened things immeasurably.
That egregious group intervention legitimized a candidate his draft record and views of the military, and foreclosed discussion of his fitness for commander in chief. That endorsement established a precedent that Gens. Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf felt free to follow when they retired.
Endorsing presidential candidates may be well-intentioned, but it misuses the trust and respect the American people have for their professional soldiers.
The message is this: We senior military leaders, by definition disinterested patriots with a tradition of nonpartisanship, “based on our extensive experience and knowledge” i.e., we may have worked for or with the other political party and “carefully evaluating each candidate’s stance on national security matters,” recommend you vote for X (quotations from an Oct. 8 letter to the New York Times by Gen. Charles Krulak and former Mississippi Rep. Sonny Montgomery).
There are more than 200 living retired four-star officers from our armed forces. The fact that fewer than 20 of them have chosen to announce public support for a presidential candidate tells us something.
RICHARD H. KOHN
Chairman of Curriculum in Peace, War, & Defense and professor of history
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
Gore blames ‘Big Oil’ for his own mistakes[p]
During the past eight years the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has become our primary source of oil, replacing our domestic supply. Natural gas and heating oil prices are skyrocketing, which is a bad omen for the winter. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson concedes, “We were caught napping.” What is Vice President Al Gore’s response? Panic.
For the sake of political expediency, Mr. Gore blames “Big Oil” for our energy problems. This year the administration, led by Mr. Gore, has repeatedly accused the oil industry of collusion, price gouging and mismanagement. Then, in a stroke of political genius, Mr. Gore denounces Republican presidential candidate George W. Bush and vice presidential candidate Richard B. Cheney as being too close to the oil companies. By inference, he accuses them of participating in the misdeeds and mismanagement of which he accuses the oil companies.
Conversely, Mr. Gore flatly refuses to take responsibility for or even acknowledge this administration’s admitted neglect of the energy situation. Worse yet, he blames good citizens like the employees of USX Corp. of Pittsburgh (one of America’s leading oil and steel companies) for the problems he helped create.
When this administration approved the Big Oil mergers, Mr. Gore didn’t say, “I will fight for you.” He was silent. When Big Oil was struggling with $13-per-barrel oil, Mr. Gore showed no concern. This is not to say the mergers were harmful. But this does clearly show the hypocrisy of his “populist” attacks on Big Oil.
When prices rebounded, the oil companies had the difficult task of bringing closed wells back into production. Trying to get new crews in place to expand production is difficult and time consuming. Many employees, like my son, are working 12-hour shifts under far less than desirable conditions.
My son has no patience for the attacks by the vice president on his industry. Likewise, I am sure that workers in the energy industry, from chief executive officers to refinery workers, do not appreciate hearing the vice president falsely attack their companies and their performance.
To blame the workers in the oil industry for one’s own lack of foresight should not be tolerated in a presidential candidate. Furthermore, to fraudulently implicate Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney in these attacks is Machiavellian at its best. For Mr. Gore, these fibs are not inconsequential his lying and defaming others to gain political advantage are a matter of course. He knows a lie told at the right time reaps more benefit than the possible damage from any minor fallout that can result. If necessary, he knows he can always ask for forgiveness.
Does the U.N. deserve U.S. tax dollars?[p]
The Better World Campaign commends Gregory Fossedal for his Oct. 11 Commentary article, “U.N. dues payment exigency.” Mr. Fossedal’s message is right on the mark. Quite simply, if the United States’ record of paying its bills at the United Nations were scrutinized by a private sector lender, this country’s credit would be cut off. By last year, the United States had racked up well more than $1 billion in debt to the United Nations for both regular budget and peacekeeping assessments. After three years of wrangling between Congress and the Clinton administration, the two sides finally struck a deal the Helms-Biden agreement that set the nation on course to pay back much of this debt. Now, less than one year later, that agreement is in jeopardy because Congress has failed to live up to its end of the bargain.
As part of Helms-Biden, the United States agreed to pay 25 percent of peacekeeping mission costs, reduced from the 31 percent we are currently assessed. However, the House and Senate are on the verge of falling far short of meeting even this minimum commitment. The House has appropriated $498 million, and essentially eliminated all funding for every U.N. peacekeeping mission in Africa. The Senate has allocated only $288 million in fiscal 2001 funding. At the same time, the United Nations is moving forward with many of the reforms required in Helms-Biden, which will allow U.S. arrears payments to proceed. To maintain the progress achieved by this historic agreement, the United States must also follow through on its word.
As this legislative session comes to a close, it remains to be seen whether Congress will honor its commitment to the United Nations and encourage the continuation of reforms under way, or, in Mr. Fossedal’s words, frustrate, halt and possibly thwart those very changes.
Better World Campaign
Gregory Fossedal carries on the ignoble tradition of whining about dues the United States allegedly owes the United Nations. His column begs two questions: Does the United States actually owe anything, and is it a good thing that the United Nations exists and that the United States is a member?
The first question is a matter of creative accounting. The Washington Times has, in the past, published articles suggesting that the United States owes several hundred million dollars, and alternatively that it is owed a like amount.
The second question is far more interesting. Since its inception, the United Nations has hardly been a friend to the United States. Its leaders have invariably been avowed socialists and communists. It has proved through the years to be little more than a forum for anti-American bigotry and a consistent threat to individual liberty, the dignity of individuals and national sovereignty. Rather than paying the United Nations another penny, the United States should withdraw from that misguided and misbegotten body, then eject it and its plethora of bureaucrats and parasites from New York. Continuing to support the United Nations in the hope that it can be reformed is simply unreasonable.
In the Oct. 10 Metropolitan section of The Times, you listed Robert McBride, Ron Crickenberger and Brian Brown as Independent candidates for the U.S. House of Representatives. They are not. They are all candidates of the Libertarian Party, the third largest party in the United States. The Libertarian Party has hundreds of candidates running for office all across the nation, including four congressional candidates in Virginia and our presidential candidate, Harry Browne.
Your oversight is understandable. Virginia’s ballot access laws are designed to favor the major parties, since they do not allow us to list our candidates by party. However, I know you will want to be as fair and accurate as possible.