- The Washington Times - Monday, December 2, 2002

New additions will strengthen NATO alliance

In his commentary "Exercise in NATO-building" (Commentary, Thursday), Borut Grgic, a recent graduate of Stanford University, said NATO's inclusion of seven East European countries at the summit in Prague has unduly complicated the task of NATO because Russia has ceased to be a threat and all the new members lack "strategic culture" in the fight against worldwide terrorism.
Before the Prague summit began, no lesser a figure than President Bush had emphasized that the basic idea at the summit would be to achieve a Europe whole, free and at peace, but now only a few days thereafter, the author would like us to believe that the new members will only weaken NATO's position.
It seems to me that the author shouldn't be so fast to play down any menace from the newly established Russian Federation. Statues of Lenin scattered all over Russia and portraits of Lenin hanging in many government offices are signs that Russia has so far not freed itself from the communist ideology. The markers confirm that bits of Lenin's ideas are still stuck in the minds of Russia's bureaucrats. Was it not Lenin who proclaimed that international agreements for his country could be broken at will?
According to the author, the new members lack a keen awareness of internationalism. It is hard to understand how the Baltic states can be accused of a narrow mind-set when thousands of their compatriots are scattered as former refugees all over the world; when there is hardly any family whose relatives or friends have not been deported to the gulags in the Urals, Siberia or Arctic region; when Estonian, Latvian and Lithuanian soldiers are serving in NATO's peacekeeping missions in Bosnia and Kosovo.
Finally, the author comes up with a novel idea: Members whose "strategic culture" is found to be fundamentally inconsistent with the needs of NATO should be dismissed. He does not bother to tell us whether their removal would come from a majority of votes or another method. Maybe the author would like to tell us, in other words, that our Senate should refuse to ratify the accession treaties of those countries for NATO membership.


PETA pounces back

David Martosko's column about People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) ("Financing domestic terrorism," Forum, Nov. 24)was 100 percent desperate ranting from a group, the Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), that was set up to raise funds by fear-mongering. Mr. Martosko works for a front group for the tobacco industry, ranchers, steak-house chains and others who lash out when their attempts to profit at the expense of animal welfare and the environment are questioned. None of the information CCF claims to have "exposed" has ever been hidden. Some is made up, some is half-truth, and all that is real (yet carefully mischaracterized) is openly available in PETA's public reports, press accounts and Internal Revenue Service filings.
Philip Morris provided nearly $1 million in startup funding for Mr. Martosko and his group.The group even opposes tougher drunken-driving restrictions and minimum wage increases for restaurant industry employees. Since they can't win on their record of animal and environmental degradation, the group's founder long ago laid out their strategy: When you can't defend the indefensible, "shoot the messenger." That would be PETA.
Earlier this year, PETA succeeded in convincing McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, Safeway and others food providers to improve the miserable lives of the billions of animals raised and slaughtered on the factory farms of their suppliers. The inexorable tide is turning against animal-abusive businesses. Mr. Martosko's letter is just the latest sign of his masters' desperation.
PETA's role vis—vis "terrorism" has been that of a good citizen. We have turned over photographs and records of abuses on farms and in laboratories all sent to us anonymously to Congress and the press. We have sought prosecution of the experimenters and others involved in violations of federal law, and provided legal defense on four occasions in our 22-year history for animal protectionists accused of wrongful actions. Until free speech is dead in this country and the accused is no longer entitled to legal defense, such activities are not only legal but at the core of American values.
PETA's true animal-protection mission, accomplished through the use of hard-hitting public education campaigns, protests, investigations, street-theater-type demonstrations and work with district attorneys and law enforcement officials, is to protest the suffering of animals in the meat, clothing, entertainment and animal-testing industries. We welcome your readers to see for themselves what animals endure today and what they can do to help, at www.peta.org.

General counsel and director of corporate affairs
The PETA Foundation
Norfolk, Va.

Decriminalize marijuana users

Florida drug czar Jim McDonough may be gloating prematurely when he declares that the recent national elections were a "broad-based rejection of the drug normalization campaign begun in the mid-1990s" ("They just said no," Op-Ed, Tuesday).
This fall's statewide marijuana policy initiatives in Nevada and Arizona were defeated because they included provisions that went beyond the point most Americans support. They called for legalizing the sale of small amounts of marijuana in Nevada, and providing free medical marijuana to patients in Arizona. However, polling continues to demonstrate that a voter initiative would enjoy majority support if it focused on the core issue of whether we should stop treating responsible marijuana smokers as criminals.
A recent Zogby poll found 61 percent of the American public opposes arresting and jailing marijuana smokers, while only 31 percent supports current drug policies. A new Time/CNN poll found 72 percent of the public favors a fine only no jail for marijuana smokers.
Contrary to Mr. McDonough's allegations, it is not "smoke and mirrors" to report that the FBI says there were 724,000 Americans arrested on marijuana charges last year, and that 89 percent of those arrests were for simple possession. Most marijuana smokers are good, productive citizens who contribute in a positive way to their communities. By treating them as criminals, we are needlessly destroying the lives and careers of our own citizens, and wasting law enforcement resources that should be focused on serious and violent crimes, including terrorism.
In the long run, it will be impossible for the drug warriors to maintain criminal penalties for the responsible use of marijuana by adults, because a solid majority of the American public now opposes criminalizing marijuana smokers. In a democracy, the laws must eventually reflect the will of the majority.

Executive director

Duration of the war

In his column "How the divide over Iraq strategies began" (Commentary, Wednesday), Arnold Beichman said the Persian Gulf war "lasted 100 hours."
That statement is completely wrong. The war lasted 43 days. It started on Jan. 17, 1991, and lasted until Feb. 28. To say that it only lasted 100 hours does a great disservice to the soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen of the allied nations who fought for the first 39 days. For some reason, a few writers still think that only land battle is war. The air and sea campaigns facilitated the ground campaign and played key roles in the war.


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