- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 7, 2002

Debating the legitimacy of assassination

Tuesday's Page One article "U.S. kills al Qaeda terrorist who attacked Cole" credits "a CIA-operated Predator drone" for launching a missile "which struck the terrorist's car."
According to other reports, many such attacks against "terrorists" have been carried out in recent months. There is no suggestion that these were assassinations, only very successful killings in the course of the war on terrorism.
Yet the same tactic, when committed by Israel against Palestinians who aid and abet suicide bombings, usually is branded "assassination," and the terrorists are elevated to "militant" status.
Why the different language in reporting? What is the difference between the two?


I am opposed to any assassinations (for that is what they are) committed by the U.S. government at the behest of the Bush administration. The deaths of six "suspected" terrorists in Yemen does not represent a victory to me, but an abuse of power by this government. A crime has been committed, the crime of murder.
These six persons were "suspected" of terrorism, but they were not tried, let alone convicted of any crime. Assassination of suspected enemies is the current policy of the Israeli government, which is morally reprehensible enough. I find it doubly so when my own government commits the same crime.
If the government can find these persons to kill them, it can find them and arrest them. The United States, however, is not the proper venue for their prosecution. Rather, they should be tried in the International Criminal Court for crimes against humanity.
Do not think the government has the right to act illegally or immorally in the name of national outrage, personal anger or some misguided sense of vengeance. I prefer justice, and justice would be served by a legal trial of any accused.

Ligonier, Pa.

Whom is the Coast Guard guarding?

I am afraid the U.S. Coast Guard has missed the point regarding its responsibility to protect this country ("Guard steps up patrols; 19 Haitians sent home," Nation, yesterday). Spokesman Luis Diaz says that the Coast Guard will increase its interdiction efforts in light of the incident involving Haitian boat people last week in Miami. Mr. Diaz explains, "We don't want to see more boats like that [rickety and packed with illegals]. The trip is extremely dangerous."
While nautically correct the trip, which nobody made the Haitians risk, is dangerous Mr. Diaz does not even suggest that illegal immigration itself can be dangerous to our nation. His and the Coast Guard's primary mission should be protecting American citizens, not giving material aid to illegals brazenly breaching our borders. Perhaps the U.S. Customs Service should disperse life preservers and parachutes to airplane-flying drug smugglers before shooting them down?

Takoma Park

Is 'muscular containment' muscle-headed?

Harlan Ullman, a member of the Center for Naval Analyses Corp. and the Center for Strategic and International Studies, suggests three tough approaches to dealing with North Korea now that it has admitted to having a nuclear arms program ("Muscular containment," Op-Ed, Oct. 30).
The first is to remind North Korea of its vulnerability by assigning Trident ballistic submarines to target North Korea. The second is to conduct a high-profile conventional-force buildup in South Korea. The third is to impose severe economic sanctions to isolate North Korea.
Brilliant ideas. Given the volatile nature of the North Korean regime of Kim Jong Il, such tough actions could lead to a new hot war in Korea, readily exploding into a nuclear exchange involving both Japan and South Korea.
Because the North Koreans say their long-range missiles with hydrogen-bomb warheads can strike cities in the United States, it is high time to call their bluff. No need to wait to see whether diplomacy will work. Invite war with North Korea and see what happens. Will the 37,000 GIs in South Korea be alive? Will South Korea and Japan evaporate in North Korean nuclear missile attacks? Will U.S. cities be left smoking in ruins? In less than half an hour, one could see the consequences.

Executive director
Center for Korean-American Peace
Silver Spring

Harlan Ullman's "Muscular containment" column raises some interesting considerations concerning pre-emptive war against Iraq.
For example, perhaps the United States should tie its preventive attack strategy to U.N. inspections. Under this scheme, the U.N. inspectors would immediately provide to the Security Council, and thus the United States, the global-positioning-satellite coordinates of all buildings the Iraqi military declares to be off-limits to inspectors. The United States then might immediately attack the buildings with deep-penetration guided bombs dropped by B-52s or B-2s orbiting nearby. Iraq would run out of off-limits buildings long before we would run out of guided bombs.
It wouldn't take the Iraqis long to discover that declaring a building off-limits is a lethal mistake.
Meanwhile, U.S. munitions plants should be busy producing thousands more bombs that can penetrate deeply into hardened underground structures. Then, the U.S. Air Force could either blow them up or incinerate them with solid-fuel rocket engine technology or both. Given the miserable and deteriorating condition of the Iraqi army, the destruction of Saddam Hussein's weapons of mass destruction would render him impotent. The United States then could concentrate on more important international and domestic security matters.
To confound the world and especially the French we also might emphatically deny that we had anything to do with the attacks and stick to the denials no matter what. Let 'em prove it.


Offering succor to Sudan's persecuted

Columnist Nat Hentoff points out ways the United States can help the victims of ethnic cleansing and enslavement in Sudan's civil war ("Sudan guilty of genocide," Op-Ed, Monday). Beyond the measures set forth in the Sudan Peace Act, there is another step America can take: admitting Sudanese refugees languishing in camps in Kenya with no prospect of returning home. The Bush administration and Congress agreed on a worldwide target of 70,000 refugee admissions last year, but only 27,000 were admitted, the lowest level in more than a decade. This year, if the administration admits its full quota of 20,000 African refugees, it will go a long way toward helping victims of Sudan's religious persecution build new lives in peace and free of fear.

Vice president
Lexington Institute

Explaining an 'impressive minority'

The article "'Rich White Males' course explores 'impressive minority'" (Nation, Tuesday) contained a very revealing statement: "We're just trying to understand the role of wealthy white males, what their role is in shaping our lives." This sentence exposes the codependent idea that anyone who is not a wealthy white male is under the control of wealthy white males. The self-victimization in this statement is fairly evident.
Freedom and empowerment for me began with the realization that I control my success, failure and destiny by the choices I make. If I choose to believe that my success depends on someone other than myself, I have abdicated my personal responsibility and freedom. A better statement of purpose for the course would be: "We're trying to understand how the wealthy white males got that way." The answer could be that they took personal responsibility and held themselves accountable for their choices.

Hemet, Calif.

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