- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2002

Dividing Afghanistan will return focus to fighting terrorism

The project of rebuilding Afghanistan as a sovereign state may be unfeasible and even counterproductive. Once al Qaeda is driven out, it would be better to let established nations with reasonably stable governments control various ethnic regions of Afghanistan, with the condition that terrorist training and other such activities cease.

Let Pakistan take over the eastern Pashto region, Tajikistan the Tajik northeast, Uzbekistan the Uzbek north, and Iran the western Farsi-speaking Shi'ite region. Popular referenda would probably support such a division. Iran is reported as stirring up tribes against the central government in Kabul ("Iran working with Afghan rebels," Feb. 19). The other neighboring countries are likely to carry on similar activities.

Afghanistan, an artificial state, was created by the British out of diverse tribal areas with diverse populations as a buffer between India and Russia. Nation-building is not our job; we need to concentrate on fighting terrorism.



Implications of removing Saddam

Your Feb. 22 story "White House wants Saddam out of power by 2005" is one of several newspaper reports describing the administration's review of options for removing Saddam Hussein.

These leaks from administration officials are helpful in telling the American public that military action is possible, but they should also explain what the implications would be. The public should be prepared for U.S. casualties and for what a cornered Saddam might do with his weapons of mass destruction, directed against invading forces or neighboring countries. For example, Israel, worried about attacks by Iraqi missiles carrying nuclear or chemical warheads, has asked for a warning before a military strike against Iraq.

The public should also be prepared to pay for keeping troops in the country for months or years, as well as peacekeeping, reconstruction and the like.

Is immediate military action likely? Secretary of State Colin Powell said that President Bush had no plans on his desk for war against any "axis of evil" nation. Some officials estimate that rebuilding weapons stockpiles, lining up support from Iraq's neighbors for basing U.S. forces, and assembling as many as 200,000 ground troops (not counting support personnel) would delay action up to a year.

By that time, if weapons inspections resume and Saddam responds with deception and denial, the administration will be in a better position to make a decision about military action.


Galveston, Texas

When deception is a virtue

The Defense Department's momentary flirtation with a vague proposal to manipulate foreign media reveals the moral ambiguity of deception in life and politics ("Pentagon is an awkward fit in news business," Feb. 22).

There is permissible and impermissible deception. For example, Soviet disinformation (read lies) directed against its own people and against America was certainly immoral. When Moscow accused Washington of conducting germ warfare in Korea, it not only lied, but lied to advance evil ends (e.g., its war of conquest against South Korea).

In his oft-quoted statement "In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies," Winston Churchill assumed that the war in question is a just war. In such a war, using "tactical deception" to use Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's words against the enemy is justified. On June 6, 1944, for example, U.S. losses would have been far greater had not the Allied command deceived the Germans into believing that main invasion force would be directed against highly fortified Pas de Calais.

Is a democratic government ever permitted to lie to its own people? During the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy abruptly canceled a speech in Chicago. The White House told the press he had a cold. It was a lie a lie designed to prevent panic and to buy time for the president to assess his options before addressing the nation on the mounting crisis.


Chevy Chase

End the Cuban embargo

Paul Greenberg's Feb. 20 Commentary column "Trading with the enemy" exemplifies the problem with conservatism today and the reason young people like myself are increasingly reluctant to align themselves with the Republican Party.

It's one thing to listen to someone moralize, but it's wholly another to hear a moralizer promoting a position that is inherently immoral. In defending the Cuban embargo, Mr. Greenberg employs the old "we'll save the Cubans from Castro" rhetoric. In fact, the Cuban populace's poverty is caused partly by the embargo, or at least that is how Mr. Castro is able to portray it to the Cuban people. All the embargo does is direct the Cuban people's anguish, the product of Mr. Castro's failed economic system, back at the "Colossus to the North." What is far too often overlooked is the purpose of economic embargoes generally: to make the people of the target country so miserable that they overthrow the undesirable regime. Mr. Castro has not been hurt in any way by decades of sanctions, but the Cuban people are starving. This is very shaky moral ground indeed.

Mr. Greenberg's interpretation of history is also flawed. Apartheid in South Africa ended partly because of multilateral sanctions, not American unilateral ones. Unilateral sanctions are utterly pointless, as experience has proved time and again. I thought that conservatives were supposed to believe in the beauty of capitalism: that industry finds a way.

Until the Jesse Helmses, Dan Burtons, and Paul Greenbergs of the world wake up and realize that the Cold War is over, people like me will take their votes elsewhere.


Chevy Chase

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