- The Washington Times - Friday, December 6, 2002

John Kerry's war record

As Sen. John Kerry, Massachusetts Democrat, considers a bid for the White House, Americans should know a few things about him that he might prefer go unmentioned and I don't mean his $75 haircuts.
When Mr. Kerry pontificated at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial on Veterans Day, a group of veterans turned their backs on him and walked away. They remembered Mr. Kerry as the anti-war activist who testified before Congress during the war, accusing veterans of being war criminals. The dust jacket of Mr. Kerry's pro-Hanoi book, "The New Soldier," features a photograph of his ragged band of radicals mocking the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial, which depicts the flag-raising on Iwo Jima, with an upside-down American flag. Retired Gen. George S. Patton III charged that Mr. Kerry's actions as an anti-war activist had "given aid and comfort to the enemy," as had the actions of Ramsey Clark and Jane Fonda. Also, Mr. Kerry lied when he threw what he claimed were his war medals over the White House fence; he later admitted they weren't his. Now they are displayed on his office wall.
Long after he changed sides in congressional hearings, Mr. Kerry lobbied for renewed trade relations with Hanoi. At the same time, his cousin C. Stewart Forbes, chief executive for Colliers International, assisted in brokering a $905 million deal to develop a deep-sea port at Vung Tau, Vietnam an odd coincidence.
As noted in the Inside Politics column of Nov. 14 (Nation), historian Douglas Brinkley is writing Mr. Kerry's biography. Hopefully, he'll include the senator's latest ignominious feat: preventing the Vietnam Human Rights Act (HR2833) from coming to a vote in the Senate, claiming human rights would deteriorate as a result. His actions sent a clear signal to Hanoi that Congress cares little about the human rights for which so many Americans fought and died.
The State Department ranked Vietnam among the 10 regimes worldwide least tolerant of religious freedom. Recently, 354 churches of the Montagnards, a Christian ethnic minority, were forcibly disbanded, and by mid-October, more than 50 Christian pastors and elders had been arrested in Dak Lak province alone. On Oct. 29, the secret police executed three Montagnards by lethal injection simply for protesting religious repression. The communists are conducting a pogrom against the Montagnards, forcing Christians to drink a mixture of goat's blood and alcohol and renounce Christianity. Thousands have been killed or imprisoned or have just "disappeared." The Montagnards lost one-half of their adult male population fighting for the United States, and without them, there might be thousands more American names on that somber black granite wall at the Vietnam memorial.
As Mr. Kerry contemplates a run for the presidency, people must remember that he has fought harder for Hanoi as an anti-war activist and a senator than he did against the Vietnamese communists while serving in the Navy in Vietnam.

MICHAEL BENGE
Foreign Service officer and former Vietnam POW (1968 to 1973)
Washington

Defending the EU

Paul Craig Roberts doesn't much care for the European Union, and that's his right ("Europe's nations fading to the left," Commentary, yesterday). But the examples he uses to demonstrate his point should at least be factually correct.
Specifically, he states that the European Court of Justice decided that European states had forfeited their sovereign rights to negotiate bilateral air service agreements to the European Commission. That is not correct. The court did not find that the commission should negotiate such deals.
What the court found was that bilaterals that base their service rights on nationality must be changed, as they discriminate against carriers from other members of the European Union. The member states can renegotiate the agreements or agree to have the commission do it.
The court has never ruled that the commission now has this right. The commission would like to have this authority, but it must explicitly be granted to it by the member states.

GREG PRINCIPATO
Trade and transportation specialist
Hunton & Williams
Washington



Paul Craig Roberts should inform himself about the European Union before writing commentaries such as "Europe's nations fading to the left."
Multicultural states are nothing new within Europe. Before the rise of nationalism, many European countries were multicultural and multinational. Did that make local cultures vanish? It did not. In almost all cases, it was an enrichment of local cultures. Many of Europe's cultural achievements would have been unthinkable without such multinational constellations.
Also, Mr. Roberts is wrong to assert that the "British people will lose their right to due process" if they integrate with the European Union. Mr. Roberts should read the European Convention on Human Rights, which is one of the fundamental laws of the European Union.
The European Union is a region adhering to modern legal and human-rights standards, contrary to other countries where, as of late, people can be detained indefinitely without even access to a lawyer.

THOMAS MOHR
Guntramsdorf, Austria

Algeria unmasked

I was surprised to read Algerian President Abdelaziz Bouteflika's column "A friend in Algeria" (Op-Ed, Nov. 25). Evidently, Mr. Bouteflika is seeking friendship with a great nation, the United States. However, friendship cannot be bought with natural gas and oil. Friendship cannot be based on hypocrisy.
Mr. Bouteflika is an experienced diplomat and his column is written quite well, which might mislead readers who do not know about Algeria. Most important, Mr. Bouteflika is not the democrat he claims to be, and he definitely is not eradicating terrorism.
Mr. Bouteflika is proud of having hosted the Algiers Convention on the Prevention and Combating of Terrorism. What credibility can a convention whose signatories include Libya and Sudan have? If Osama bin Laden were an African head of state, he also would have been invited to sign on.
Mr. Bouteflika mentions a "campaign against terrorism." More than 100,000 civilians were killed in Algeria during the past decade. The Algerian regime has never accepted a U.N. inquiry to investigate the massacres of entire villages. Some campaign against terrorism.
Mr. Bouteflika says the recent elections in Algeria were a success. On what basis can he claim this when the whole Kabylia region has rejected both of the recently held legislative and local elections? The Kabylia people did so in protest against the Algerian Security Forces responsible for killing more than 100,000 civilians and wounding several hundred. Because the Kabylia people have successfully rejected these elections, the Algerian regime has thrown in jail the leaders of the Kabylia movement. This is anti-democratic and reveals the dictatorial essence of the Algerian regime. Holding elections in a country does not mean the country is democratic. Even Iraq regularly holds elections.
Mr. Bouteflika added that "women increasingly participate in the government." However, he has never taken any action to scrap the Islamic fundamentalist "family code," whereby a woman is no more than a minor, including the women who are ministers in the Algerian government. For example, an Algerian woman badly and unfairly treated by her husband cannot even request a divorce.
There are Algerians who have been struggling against the state, demanding liberty, justice, dignity and democracy. In the interest of world peace and human rights, the United States should genuinely consider the grievances of Algeria's civilians before embracing Algeria as a friend.

YAZID DJERBIB
Stittsville, Ontario
Canada

A capital mistake

Thank you for the interesting article on microbrewing, which features Washington's own Capitol City Brewing Co. ("Something's brewing," Metropolitan, yesterday). I certainly enjoyed it. However, it begs the question: Why does this company misspell its name?
Of course, the Capitol note the "o" refers to the building in which Congress resides. But the city is the nation's capital note the "a."

BOB BERRY
Mount Vernon


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