- The Washington Times - Friday, November 23, 2001

International court, not a military tribunal

Commentary columnist William Rusher's love of military tribunals has blinded him to the national-security consequences of giving the U.S. government such authority ("Military terror trials?" Nov. 19). Military tribunals do have advantages, but their disadvantages will prove catastrophic in the future.

A few weeks ago, President Bush responded to a foreign journalist's question about the appearance that there is "one law" for Americans and "another law" for everyone else in the world. Mr. Bush wisely responded that there are "universal" laws that apply to everyone, especially mass murderers. The journalist's question, however, was astute. U.S. policy-makers do have double standards, and far too few Americans protest the inconsistent application of our standards around the world.

Mr. Bush's order to put foreign suspects of terrorism under the jurisdiction of U.S. military tribunals exemplifies this inconsistency. Would the Bush administration accept an edict from a foreign ruler to hand over Americans accused of terrorism to his country's military tribunal? Mr. Bush's order contradicts his own wisdom, creating different laws for different people.

This double standard will fuel anti-American sentiment and exacerbate other legitimate grievances toward the harmful and sometimes lethal effects of unilateral U.S. foreign policy. America's lack of response to Arab, African and Muslim grievances and our unbeatable military force spurred fanatics to acts of asymmetrical warfare. In their eyes, it was a legitimate option. In our eyes, it is terrorism.

Many in the Arab world use the word "terrorism" to describe selective use of asymmetrical power by America and Israel to enforce U.N. resolutions that directly or indirectly result in the killing of innocent Muslims. The United States, however, calls it "unilateral" U.S. foreign policy.

U.S. support for repressive Middle Eastern governments is yet another example of the inconsistency between the United States' high ideals and our actual practice. This inconsistency severely harms our credibility and our moral imperative to pursue mass murderers wherever they hide.

There is a solution consistent with the American ideal of treating all people equally and consistent with Mr. Bush's invocation of universal laws. It's called the International Criminal Court (ICC). The ICC would not be able to try Osama bin Laden and company because it has not yet been ratified. However, the idea of establishing a special international tribunal to deal with accused terrorists is a sane and sensible approach. The martyrs and double standards created by a U.S. military tribunal will only fuel more terrorism.

Without a temporary international tribunal for accused terrorists and Senate ratification of the ICC, the vital question posed by the foreign journalist will continue to haunt Mr. Bush. Indeed, if we continue on our present course, our double standards will undermine our prosperity, freedom and security for generations to come. Without real justice, there will be no real peace. In the age of weaponized smallpox, this is not the direction in which the United States should be going.


CHUCK WOOLERY

Issues advocacy director

World Federalist Association

Washington

Who's the 'smart one' now?

Why is the American public outraged over Bill Clinton's anti-American comments at Georgetown University ("Another outrage," Nov. 17)? Why even take the time or effort to acknowledge the banality of a man who years ago proved to the nation and world that he is not as intelligent as he was purported to be by the liberal media. Those who never voted for him expect nothing less of him; many who did now prefer to distance themselves from him.

Interesting, isn't it, that the president who wasn't expected to demonstrate intelligence George W. Bush is the man cleaning up the mess the "intelligent one" left behind and in an intelligent and calculated manner.


BETTY BENGTSON

Glennallen, Ark.

Gun control and the Taliban

I often wondered how a regime as repressive as the Taliban could remain in control of Afghanistan for so long. Recent news reports gave me an answer.

The Taliban was very diligent in its efforts to ban guns. House-to-house searches and confiscation of guns were commonplace. Only those people favored by the Taliban were permitted to keep their firearms. By banning guns, a militant minority was able to solidify and hold power despite its widespread unpopularity. It is a pattern we've seen repeated time after time, in such places as Liberia, Cambodia and Nazi Germany.

After all, only an unjust government must disarm its citizens to remain in power. We are truly fortunate that our Founding Fathers recognized this simple truth and wrote it into the Bill of Rights, guaranteeing our right to keep and bear arms.


JAMES TERPENING

Washington

Kuwait supports war on terrorism with words and deeds

As you indicated in your Nov. 18 editorial "Anyone for peace?" Kuwait's Foreign Minister and Acting Prime Minister Sheik Sabah Ahmad Sabahhas stated repeatedly that Kuwait is a vigorous supporter of the anti-terrorism coalition and "stands clearly and in full solidarity with every international effort to eradicate terrorism root and branch." His words, matched by action, have had consequences.

First, Kuwait has been scrutinizing funds flowing to and from religious charities, and the charity kiosks that once filled marketplaces and mosques have been banned.

Second, the Kuwait Financial House, the country's largest Islamist-leaning bank, has been brought under the authority of the Finance Ministry to ensure its transparency and compliance with efforts to track down the terrorists' sources of funding.

Third, legitimate, transparent Islamic charities will be regulated in a way that forbids them from spending more than 30 percent of their resources outside Kuwait, and this spending will be watched.

Finally, Kuwait has lent considerable support to the U.S. military in the areas of logistics and information-sharing, as U.S. officials have acknowledged.

In word and deed, Kuwait's government will continue to lend unbridled and maximum support to the war against terrorism.


SHAFEEQ N. GHABRA

Director

Kuwait Information Office

Washington


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