- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 14, 2002

Editorial misses the point of September 11 documentary

I'm not exactly shocked that your editorial staff found something wrong with the TV special "9/11" ("9/11," Editorials, March 12). For you, "9/11" simply didn't include enough chest-beating conservatives trying to whip viewers into a war frenzy.

In truth, however, the documentary wasn't made to toot the proverbial horn in the war on terrorism. By accident, the documentary captured one of the worst moments in our country's history. By showing us what we otherwise could not see, the documentary gave us a powerful insight into that horrible day. It was a chilling reminder of why we're sending so many young men and women to search the caves, hills and mountains in Afghanistan.

Americans aren't imbeciles. We didn't need "9/11" to spell things out for us. The documentary made its point without depending on the base rhetoric that saturates the daily news.


PAUL LEAKAN

Maple Shade, N.J.




Your editorial regarding the "9/11" special entirely misses the point. It would have been inappropriate for the special to have attempted to give international context to the struggle of the firefighters that day. The whole idea is that the firefighters were in a vacuum of information, and the viewer was able to experience the day as they did. It is doubtful the men making their fateful final trips up those stairs had Afghanistan on their minds.

For six months now, the attacks have been presented only in their international context. The "9/11" special provided a poignant new perspective that only would have been diluted by your suggestions.


DAVID A. THORNELOE

Blacksburg, Va.

Column downplays Army's race-based hiring

Clarence Page's March 12 Commentary column "Race and gender policies on trial" considerably understates the degree of discrimination that a federal judge recently found in the Army's officer promotion polices. Mr. Page's column suggests that the Army's policies were much more nuanced than they were.

Judge Royce Lamberth noted, for example, that one Army memorandum instructed: "Your goal is to achieve a selection rate in each minority and gender group (minority groups: Black, Hispanic, Asian/Pacific Islander, American Indians, and Others; gender: males for Army Nurse Corps … and females for all other … categories) that is not less than the selection rate for all officers in the promotion zone (first time considered)." If the goal is not met, then memorandum requires the selection board to "identify" and "explain" any failures to meet this goal. Finally, a separate portion of the memorandum "explicitly instructs selection board members to grant a promotion benefit to females and minorities during the initial evaluation procedure."

Judge Lamberth correctly concluded that, under the applicable law, whether such instructions are called "hard quotas, soft quotas, or goals," they surely "induce any employer to hire with an eye toward meeting the numerical target. As such, they can and surely will result in individuals being granted a preference because of their race [or gender]."


ROGER CLEGG

General Counsel

Center for Equal Opportunity

Sterling, Va.

Bush got tough by raising steel tariffs

Bruce Bartlett's March 3 Commentary column, "On a slippery tariff slope," failed to address key points in the debate over the imposition of tariffs on steel imports. Mr. Bartlett says nothing about the violation of American trade laws by many of the nations facing increased tariffs. He attacks the president's decision from a political perspective, calling it the "greatest mistake of his presidency," and does not discuss the real issues.

First, the International Trade Commission (ITC) conducted an exhaustive investigation to determine if unfairly traded steel imports caused injury to the domestic steel industry. The commissioners' vote was unanimous (6-0) that unfairly traded imports had caused injury. Our trade laws were violated repeatedly by our trading partners, who were at least partially responsible for the bankruptcy of more than 30 steel companies in the past few years.

Second, has Mr. Bartlett looked at the balance of trade lately? In 2000, the United States had a trade deficit of $375.7 billion, or 3.8 percent of the gross domestic product (the highest percentage of GDP ever). In 2001, a recession year in U.S. manufacturing, the deficit dropped to $346.3 billion (3.4 percent of the GDP). How many of those goods representing the trade deficit entered the United States in violation of our trade laws? I suspect a great many.

Third, many of our trading partners manipulate their currencies to maintain an advantage in trade with the United States. Our dollar remains strong in relation to those currencies, thus putting American-made products at a huge cost disadvantage. With very few exceptions, exporting American-made steel simply isn't possible. In other words, foreign markets are closed, while our market remains wide open. Some partnership.

Fourth, the U.S. steel industry must comply with U.S. environmental and safety laws. This is a good thing, but it does not come without substantial cost to steel makers. Consider the cost of the Environmental Protection Agency's clean air and water regulations and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's rules concerning safety in the workplace. Does Russia or Ukraine have such requirements? No, neither does. Their rivers and air are polluted, and their workers are exposed to hazards not seen in this country since the turn of the century. However, their steel is cheap, and steel consumers gobble it up in an effort to increase profits. There's nothing wrong with that. It's simple capitalism that is, unless it is being done illegally, which the ITC has determined is the case.

Finally, Mr. Bartlett argues that the president's decision will cause a flood of trade-relief requests from U.S. industry. He cites the textile and auto industries as among those we can expect to start lobbying for relief. In the case of the textile industry, one could argue that the sale of clothing produced in sweatshops using child labor and inhumane working conditions, in fact, violates our trade laws. Therefore, it should be investigated by the ITC and dealt with accordingly. Americans gladly will pay more for clothing if they know that the increased cost is not going into the pockets of those who would exploit children for profits. The auto industry is another matter. Japan and Germany have penetrated the U.S. market with high-quality automobiles, not cheap prices. Their products are traded fairly in compliance with our trade laws. The auto industry may ask for relief, but none should be given. Unlike the steel and textile industries, the auto industry conducts business on a level playing field.

No, Mr. Bartlett, Mr. Bush did not make a mistake by enforcing the law. Instead, he sent a strong message to our trading partners that they had better play by the rules, or else. This is a president who takes action when faced with a difficult economic problem, despite the enormous political risks, instead of just postponing the problem for the next guy. Pretty impressive, if you ask me. It's called leadership, something we haven't seen in the White House for quite some time.


RICHARD W. RESSLER

North Olmsted, Ohio


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