- The Washington Times - Monday, August 19, 2002

Next stop for war on terror: Brazil?

Constantine C. Menges' column "Blocking a new axis of evil" (Commentary, Aug. 7) is an outrage to all Brazilian people.
First, I do not sympathize with presidential candidate Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva because I don't think he's really prepared for that office. Even so, I cannot imagine all the unnamable horrors predicted by Mr. Menges would happen if Mr. da Silva were elected. Indeed, Mr. Menges' column is like a jigsaw puzzle with no matching pieces: lots of old and inaccurate information (such as Mr. da Silva's connections to Cuban leader Fidel Castro) rearranged to make Brazil look like a potential terrorist threat to America.
Brazil has its own problems battling narcotics traffic, so tell me one good reason why would it help the Colombian terrorist outfit FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia), which is financed with drug money? Also, Mr. Menges' speculation about Brazil developing nuclear weapons is ludicrous; we hardly have a decently working nuclear power plant.
If this column was meant to turn Brazil into an enemy in your readers' eyes, it seems as if reverse propaganda has occurred. If more Brazilians are thinking like me at this moment, they are thinking that the United States has been behaving in a paranoid manner since last September, seeing terrorist threats everywhere.

Rio de JaneiroIt is bad enough that the international financial community has seen fit to punish Brazilians for expressing dissatisfaction at the polls. Now neo-Cold Warriors such as Constantine C. Menges are playing the terrorism card to discredit one of Latin America's most distinguished champions of democracy, Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.
Mr. da Silva gained notoriety on the front lines of the democracy movement in the late 1970s and was pivotal in the dismantling of Brazil's military rule. People may disagree with his policies, but there is no doubt about his commitment to democratic principles. He is no Hugo Chavez of Venezuela or Fidel Castro.
His party leaders have proved themselves skilled managers of Brazil's largest cities, and they have promised to clean up Brazil's notoriously corrupt government. Even current President Fernando Henrique Cardoso respects Mr. da Silva and his Labor Party and has vowed to endorse him in a runoff election against the populist Ciro Gomes.
The people we should fear in Brazil are Mr. da Silva's enemies. Armed with an ideology of fear, they may overthrow the government and remilitarize Brazil. Mr. Menges' essay plays into the hands of the real enemy, an enemy that is far more dangerous than Mr. da Silva ever could be.

Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies
University of California in San Diego
San Diego

No citizenship for traitors

We soon may learn what happens to poor Yaser Esam Hamdi, whose U.S. citizenship is still being debated and who is being held without charge as an enemy combatant in a military brig ("Judge to rule on proof cited to detain Hamdi," Wednesday, Metro). A rational statement of the facts should leave no doubt about his guilt.
U.S. passports clearly state on page 4: "LOSS OF U.S. CITIZENSHIP. Under certain circumstances you may lose your U.S. citizenship by performing any of the following acts: (1) being naturalized in a foreign state; (2) taking an oath or making a declaration to a foreign state; (3) serving in the armed forces of a foreign state."
Because the Taliban was the de facto government in Afghanistan when Mr. Hamdi surrendered to the Northern Alliance, it would be a rational assumption that he had taken an oath of allegiance to a government hostile to the United States. Conclusion: Mr. Hamdi automatically lost his U.S. citizenship, if he ever really was an American, by fighting for an enemy force.
So, please let us focus on real problems and send bleeding-heart lawyers and their chattering-class cronies to find another horse to ride.

Navy, retired
Sterling, Va.

Cuba has a junk credit rating

Columnist Frank Gaffney Jr. did not fully investigate the Cuban angle in "Trading with the 'enemy,'" Commentary, Tuesday), but he did intimate the dangers of doing business with Cuba.
A considerable number of representatives in Congress were lured into casting their votes for opening trade with Cuba. Who induced them? The arguments of powerful food and pharmaceutical brokers making a case for growers and manufacturers who covet a piece of the Cuban market. But here is the catch: Those brokers and producers act in full knowledge of the seriousness of Cuba's failed economy and mounting debt.
What is their anticipated magic formula to secure business deals with the communist island? Certainly not extending personal credits or engaging private investors the risks are way too big to undertake. What they all count on is tapping into Uncle Sam's loan guarantee programs.
What this all translates into is the U.S. Federal Reserve (with taxpayer money) eventually footing unpaid bills. Cubans are masters at finding the opportune time to stop making payments on their loans. Thanks to those clever "stings," many banks and governments worldwide are out billions of dollars loaned to Cuba during the past 30-some years.
Just like Enron and WorldCom executives who enriched themselves by impoverishing lots of regular Americans, unscrupulous brokers are looking to pocket millions in American taxpayers' money, this time via the Cuba trade. There are no motivational differences between today's greedy chief executive officers and chief financial officers and the middlemen casting their lines to Cuba.
If President Bush is serious about getting our economy back on track, one thing he can do is veto any bill granting trading options to a country that will surely take us for a financial ride. It makes more sense to find sensible solutions to help our growers and manufacturers directly, rather than to subsidize a financially and morally bankrupt dictatorship.


Heston played his greatest role gratis

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Jack Thompson's column "My day with Charlton Heston" (Op-Ed, Friday) was right on target. Mr. Heston's actions at the Time Warner Inc. shareholders meeting in July 1992 bespeak volumes for a man whose quality of character and conduct are not only above reproach, but also serve as an example of what courageous leadership is all about.
I have read Mr. Heston's comments to the Time Warner shareholders in their entirety. The Washington Times would be equally as courageous as Mr. Heston to publish his comments in their entirety on its editorial page.
Mr. Heston's comments were absolutely appropriate in 1992. Sadly, they are no less appropriate 10 years later.


Immigration spin

I am surprised at the lack of research done for a recent article on Middle Eastern immigrants in the United States ("Middle East sends many immigrants," Thursday, Nation).
First, it behooves reporters to research their material, rather than printing news releases verbatim. Second, the readers probably do not know that the Center for Immigration Studies, an organization contacted for the article, is a front for pseudo-scholarly special interests for Israel. Add comments from Daniel Pipes, who is also beholden to those same special interests, and you have an article that has absolutely no credibility with researchers of American immigration.
Rather, the Center for Immigration Studies has put out several publications that expose its fears of an articulate, growing Muslim population swaying U.S. popular opinion over the continued occupation and human rights violations of the Palestinian people. Let's call a spade a spade.

History Department
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Urbana, Ill.

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