- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 5, 2001

Nurturing Indian democracy

The April 2 Commentary column "Getting India right" was welcome, especially considering that Mohandas Gandhi and the Taj Mahal are all that many people of the developed world know of India.

While both justly glorify India´s past, one must ensure that the socialist policies of yesteryear do not weaken today´s rising Indian economy. India´s foray into the World Trade Organization regime and the subsequent removal of quantitative restrictions on all imports will help awaken its slumbering industry.

While comparisons with China are inevitable by virtue of size, India also should be looked upon as a distinct entity, not a pawn in the growing rift between the United States and China.

Only a little more than 50 years old, this democracy still needs nurturing, and a conducive atmosphere in South Asia is essential for growth. India has suffered enough for the United States´ involvement in Afghanistan, which caused thousands of Afghan guerrillas to cross over into India in the name of religion.

The Bush administration has shown an open mind toward India, and it would be a just gesture if it would remove the sanctions imposed by the previous administration.


Kensington, Calif.

It is refreshing to see an honest appraisal of the common interests of the United States and India ("Getting India right," Commentary, April 2). Usually, India´s motives leading to its detonation of nuclear devices in 1998 are distorted.

India lives in a tough neighborhood, dominated on one side by the jihad culture promoted during the U.S.-Soviet conflicts in Afghanistan and on the other by Chinese communists anxious to demonstrate that their system of government is best suited for the neighborhood.

It is about time that the United States and India cultivated closer ties with each other. For this to happen, both nations should focus on the overarching goals explained in your column.

India´s relations with Pakistan and Kashmir and its slow transition from the failed socialistic policies of the past should not be the United States´ main priorities in India. The new Bush administration seemed to be moving along these lines until Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfield lumped India with such states as North Korea and Iraq.

It is hard to distinguish the difference between the United States´ approach to China and its approach to India. The United States sorely needs a new policy toward India that the new administration will apply consistently.


Mercer Island, Wis.

Outdated procurements, strategy tax military's resources

Columnist Frank J. Gaffney Jr. argues that the Bush administration should review Pentagon policies based on the assumption that America's military should be prepared to "deal with two, nearly simultaneous major regional conflicts" ("The defense we need," Commentary, March 27).

This is the wrong way to go. Any sensible analysis of Pentagon strategy should begin with an evaluation of the threats our military must confront. Appropriate strategies and force structures should then be designed to counter these threats.

As President Bush's Pentagon review reportedly has concluded, there is at present no threat or combination of threats that justifies America´s costly strategy of preparing for two simultaneous wars. This is the same conclusion that was drawn by the congressionally mandated National Defense Panel in 1999.

America could meet any military challenge if we replaced the two-war strategy with a "one-war-plus" strategy involving preparations for one major regional war and a concurrent Bosnia-type operation.

Guided by such a strategy, America could make rational decisions about weapons procurement and troop deployments.

For example, as Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld reportedly understands, building more $6 billion large-deck aircraft carriers makes no military sense in today´s geopolitical environment; neither does procuring $200 million short-range fighter aircraft and heavy armored vehicles.

The key question is whether Congress will support the reforms likely to be proposed by Mr. Bush and Mr. Rumsfeld.

If congressional leaders cannot find the courage to help Mr. Bush pass modest Pentagon reforms, they will be doing a disservice to our military, whose budget is so squeezed by expensive Cold War weapons procurements and policies that the basic weapons and training it needs to defend America are not being supplied adequately.


Director of studies

Council on Foreign Relations

New York

Study reveals flaw in lax immigration policy

The finding by the Center for Immigration Studies that recent immigrants are not moving up the economic ladder as did their predecessors comes as no surprise to anyone familiar with the first law of economics: The price of anything, including labor, is determined by supply and demand ("More immigrants staying in poverty, study claims," Nation, March 29).

As the supply of cheap labor created by immigration has soared during the past two decades, the wages for all labor, including that of immigrants, has grown little.

To put it in perspective, from 1950 to 1973, average wages, adjusted for inflation, increased by about 100 percent. Between 1973 and 1999, however, real average weekly earnings declined 24 percent despite a strong economy.

The dismal performance of wage rates was caused by three factors. First, baby boomers swamped the market in the 1970s. Second, the number of good-paying jobs declined as manufacturing jobs moved abroad. Third, and most recently, the labor market is being swamped by legal and illegal immigrants.

Of course, the prospect of low wages is exactly why businesses support adding 2 million legal and illegal immigrants each year. But it is strange indeed to hear National Immigration Forum Director Frank Sharry, who supposedly is concerned with the plight of immigrants, support an immigration policy that works against their interests.

Apparently he is unaware that during the last great wave of immigration, early in this century, most immigrants fared so badly that 40 percent decided to return home. For those who remained, it was only after immigration was drastically reduced that their economic futures improved significantly.

It is in the best interests of all American wage earners, both native-born and immigrant, to roll back immigration to the sustainable levels of the 1960s.


Evanston, Ill.

In your March 29 story on the Center for Immigration Studies´ recent analysis, National Immigration Forum Director Frank Sharry comments, " is cut from the same cloth as the pseudo-science of the early 1900s that labeled Italians, Jews, Slovaks and other Europeans as 'inassimilable.´"

This strikes me as a bit extreme. Doesn´t the United States have the highest immigration rates in the world? The real issue here has nothing to do with race or ethnicity. Rather, it is about how the size of our nation´s population affects our quality of life.

Don´t the 2000 census numbers confirm that our population growth is out of control?


San Francisco

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