- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 23, 2001

In search of a European constitution

Regarding Paul Craig Roberts' Commentary column ("Into the big blender," Dec. 14) in which he rails against the Europeans' decision to hold a constitutional convention in 2004, I have to ask why he believes there must be a static definition of a "people." I do not support the extremes of "multiculturalism" any more than the next person, but even granting the definition that a "people" share a common heritage and values, what defines any specific "people" is always changing and evolving as they freely choose to mingle, interact and trade goods and services.

Americans were not always a united "people" at one time, we were English, Irish, Africans, Italians, Chinese, ad infinitum. Even after the Revolutionary War, Patrick Henry, a staunch American patriot if there ever were one, soundly opposed ratification of the Constitution, exclaiming on one occasion, "I'll be damned if I let those foreigners in New York tell me how to run things here in Virginia."

I feel pride in my "assimilated hegemonic" American identity and still enjoy my Virginia heritage just as much.

I say we hurrah the Europeans for taking a step that, after our Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin strongly encouraged them to take. I know many Europeans who visit, work and consume goods and services in their neighboring countries, as easily and frequently as Americans do among their several states. The interaction among the "peoples" is there and should be properly and democratically governed.

Perhaps a small benefit will be a consolidation of the numerous, burdensome and bureaucratic treaties into a single established and ordained constitution such as we enjoy. That is up to the European people.


TONY FLEMING

Alexandria

Attacks on missionaries are not typical of India

Thomas Sowell's Commentary column ("Hate rooted in envy," Dec. 6) incorrectly makes reference to incidents of attack on Christian missionaries by stereotyping India using a few stray incidents. India is a far more tolerant country than anyone can imagine. The minorities are treated equally, rather more equally, I should say. If anyone goes around the country and studies the fabric of India, he will be amazed at how much less discrimination there is compared to even such developed countries as America.

Yes, there are divisions in the society, and there are disputes and communal disturbances every now and then. But neither government policy nor law enforcement is in any way partial toward the minority. Please refrain from such stereotyping.

Many of the incidents do not even have the same motive as ascribed to them in the news. For example, there was an incident reported recently that a Christian priest was murdered. The newspapers made a hue and cry and said it was due to communal differences, but, upon investigation, it was found out that it was due to personal differences with a family member.

In the days when India and America the world's two greatest multireligious, multiethnic, tolerant, democratic and freedom-loving countries are coming together more than ever and are working to eradicate religious intolerance and terrorism, this type of stereotyping is harmful to both countries. It is also far from the real truth about India.


ASHWINI SURPUR

Fremont, Calif.

Times should check into the Wildlands Project

Thank you for exposing the fraudulent activities of the Forest Service and Fish and Wildlife employees ("Rare lynx hairs found in forests exposed as hoax," Dec. 17). I think, though, that the story is incomplete.

What motivated these people to conspire and collude to deny the people's right to access their lands? Denial of access due to endangered species habitat is becoming the weapon of choice of the radical environmental movement. Remember Klamath Falls, Ore.?

If you really want to understand the actions of these perpetrators and the radical environmental movement they support, you should research the Wildlands Project. All the environmental groups have adopted the dangerous agenda of the organization.

Consider, for example, the writings of the group's co-founders Reed Noss, Michael Soule and Dave Foreman. Or the rather dangerous piece of legislation introduced in the House on Feb. 6. This is the first piece of legislation meant to embody the agenda of the Wildlands Project. If you delve into the personal beliefs of the people who conspired and colluded to fake the lynx habitat, I would be willing to bet they are supporters of the Wildlands Project. I hope you follow through and investigate thoroughly the motivation of these people.

If you are interested in learning where the Clinton administration's "Roadless Rule" originated, you might read "The Ecological Effects of Roads" by Mr. Noss. The "Rule" is taken almost word for word from Mr. Noss.

In fact, he was employed in the Clinton Interior Department, so what can you expect? You should check into the Wildlands Project. You would be amazed at what is really going on.


LARRY THOMPSON

Bishop, Calif.

National missile defense is no defense

Thanks to William R. Hawkins ("Exit ABM forward with leadership articles," Dec. 14) for attacking the letter to Congress opposing national missile defense that I helped to draft and 51 American Nobel laureates signed. At least he brought our letter to your readers' attention.

Mr. Hawkins agrees that, today, nuclear offense has the advantage over defense, but he takes the laureates to task for ignoring the historical shifts back and forth in the balance of offense and defense. The greatest lesson of history is not to conclude too much from history, but if one insists on historical precedents, a good one is anti-aircraft defense.

In the German bombing of London, the Allied bombing of Germany and the American bombing of North Vietnam, defense effectiveness was about 2 percent, not without value against attackers who must return repeatedly to the target but useless against a single devastating nuclear attack.

History is no substitute for thinking about specific technologies. The missile defense system now under development is easily defeated by a variety of countermeasures, including decoys that cannot be distinguished from warheads. No solution to this problem is known, but even if we could tailor a missile defense to defeat some given set of countermeasures, it would be penetrated by an attack using an unexpected set of countermeasures.

Mr. Hawkins is right that a sudden attack by a rogue state is implausible and that nuclear-armed missiles would be more useful for blackmail than for attack (although this isn't the administration's rationale for missile defense), but why wouldn't we use conventionally armed cruise missiles to destroy missiles that could reach the United States while they are being erected by a rogue state? And if we didn't, how would a missile defense system of uncertain effectiveness save us from blackmail?

We face a real threat from terrorist nuclear or biological weapons that can be anonymously delivered by aircraft, ships or trucks with much greater accuracy than by long range missiles.

There are things we should be doing to reduce these threats that are limited by the funds available. Facing these real dangers, why spend vast sums on missile defense?


STEVEN WEINBERG

Austin, Texas


Editor's note: Mr. Weinberg is a Nobel laureate in physics.

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