- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 17, 2002

America envy does not explain European anti-war sentiments

Jay Ambrose should not blame Europeans' anti-war sentiments on their "chaf[ing] at American wealth, power and influence they think should be theirs" ("Motivation miscalculation," Commentary, Sunday). After the Bush administration's rejection of Kyoto, the International Criminal Court and other occasions for multilateralism, plus its recent bullying of the European Union to admit Turkey, many Europeans conservatives as well as leftists simply do not trust the United States. This mistrust is exacerbated by the administration's refusal to produce the evidence it says it has of Iraq's weapons programs. Add to this the administration's public commitment to warring against Iraq, even if means going unilaterally and against international law, and it is easy to understand why mistrust, not envy, explains Europeans' anti-war position.

THOMAS MOHR
Guntramsdorf, Austria

Security must not trump liberty

In his column "Why civil libertarians are uneasy" (Commentary, Thursday), Robert Levy states, "After all, government's primary obligation is to secure the lives of American citizens." I believe this statement deserves some scrutiny.
Is the security of its citizens really the primary obligation of the federal government? It may sound overly simplistic, but I think one needs to look no further than the Preamble of the Constitution to answer this question:
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquillity, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
The Preamble lists "secure the blessings of liberty" and "provide for the common defense" side by side. These functions were equal in the eyes of the founders. The remainder of the Constitution arguably is a treatise on how the new government must respect liberties.
Even as Mr. Levy chafes, "In the post-September 11 environment, no rational person believes civil liberties are inviolable," I disagree. Though I consider myself both a conservative and rational, I do think that our liberties are inviolable. As a result, I am deeply concerned about the government's post-September 11 power grab. The founders had the wisdom and guts to create a free society despite the risks freedom poses. We should not forget that lesson, and we should follow their example.

BRIAN CHEETHAM
Crofton, Md.

Reagan was an actor, too

As a card-carrying Screen Actors Guild member (and native of Los Angeles) and a program manager in the Air Force now working at the Pentagon, I hold that actors can have a better foreign-policy acumen than politicians. Diana West ("Hollywood goes to war," Op-Ed, Friday) would have us believe that actors are categorically anti-war, but I think the real issue dividing them over Iraq is the method of disarmament America chooses to embrace. While the motive behind a war against Iraq is to rid that country of any weapons of mass destruction it may have, pre-emption is a doctrine Americans have never before embraced.
According to the letter many actors signed recently, they are concerned about "a reversal of [a] long-held American tradition" that first-strike attacks are counter to democratic ideals. They are not anti-war per se. Rather, they merely agree with traditional American war power. Perhaps President Truman best explained that old-time policy. Explaining why we were fighting in Korea, he told the nation: "We do not believe in aggressive or preventive war. Such war is the weapon of dictators, not of free democratic countries like the United States. We are arming only for the defense against aggression. Even though Communist imperialism does not believe in peace, it can be discouraged from new aggression if we and other free peoples are strong, determined, and united."
An actor's job is to portray the society around him; it is never incumbent upon him to blindly reflect or accept a president's rationale for war. Perhaps we should listen to that sage Hollywood star, Ronald Reagan, who once remarked, "The best minds are not in government." So maybe they're in Hollywood?

BRIAN MIRANDA
Washington

Honestly Abe

Cal Thomas writes that "the party of Abraham Lincoln does not need the language of segregation" ("Habitual offender putting GOP to the test," Commentary, Sunday).
Perhaps not, but Abraham Lincoln himself needed it. In his famous 1858 debates with Stephen Douglas, Lincoln said, repeatedly and emphatically, that he opposed "political and social equality" for the Negro. Contrary to the statements of his apologists, this was no mere campaign pandering. Lincoln's whole record proves that he meant it.
Long before those debates, Lincoln belonged to the American Colonization Society, dedicated to removing free blacks from the United States. Lincoln favored emancipation, but only if it were accompanied by colonization. He referred to the Negro as "the African" and to Africa as "his native land." He endorsed Illinois' harsh segregationist black code.
Even as president, in the midst of the Civil War, Lincoln continued his vigorous efforts to repatriate blacks abroad. He established two (unsuccessful) colonies for them in the Caribbean, and in his 1862 State of the Union message, he asked Congress for a constitutional amendment, no less, authorizing the funding of these projects.
These facts, and many more like them, are matters of undeniable record. Faced with this record, Lincoln's defenders say, "We can't judge him by the standards of another time." Why not, if we can honor him by the standards of another time?
If Lincoln had had his way, there would have been no Dixiecrat Party in 1948 for the simple reason that there would have been no blacks to segregate; this would long since have become an all-white America. If "the party of Lincoln" is serious about repudiating racists, it should repudiate Lincoln himself.

SAM DANIEL
Petersburg, Va.

Reagan was an actor, too

As a card-carrying Screen Actors Guild member (and native of Los Angeles) and a program manager in the Air Force now working at the Pentagon, I hold that actors can have a better foreign-policy acumen than politicians. Diana West ("Hollywood goes to war," Op-Ed, Friday) would have us believe that actors are categorically anti-war, but I think the real issue dividing them over Iraq is the method of disarmament America chooses to embrace. While the motive behind a war against Iraq is to rid that country of any weapons of mass destruction it may have, pre-emption is a doctrine Americans have never before embraced.
According to the letter many actors signed recently, they are concerned about "a reversal of [a] long-held American tradition" that first-strike attacks are counter to democratic ideals. They are not anti-war per se. Rather, they merely agree with traditional American war power. Perhaps President Truman best explained that old-time policy. Explaining why we were fighting in Korea, he told the nation: "We do not believe in aggressive or preventive war. Such war is the weapon of dictators, not of free democratic countries like the United States. We are arming only for the defense against aggression. Even though Communist imperialism does not believe in peace, it can be discouraged from new aggression if we and other free peoples are strong, determined, and united."
An actor's job is to portray the society around him; it is never incumbent upon him to blindly reflect or accept a president's rationale for war. Perhaps we should listen to that sage Hollywood star, Ronald Reagan, who once remarked, "The best minds are not in government." So maybe they're in Hollywood?

BRIAN MIRANDA
Washington

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