- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 17, 2002

U.S. delegation to Johannesburg stuck to its guns

Having attended the U.N. World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, I am delighted to report that Paul Greenberg's characterization of the U.S. delegation as "look[ing] a bit like a reprise of the Carter administration" while precisely what I expected to encounter is unsupportable ("More globaloney … and a ray of hope," Commentary, yesterday).

In Johannesburg, the U.S. team aggressively rejected various shibboleths of the one-world left, appalling attendees by sticking to truthful principles:

• Drought is a natural condition, but famine is purely man-made and never found in a democracy.

• Foreign aid has proved to be the poor in rich countries subsidizing the rich in poor countries, and in order to continue receiving foreign aid, countries must enact economic and judicial reforms.

• Most impressively, in tandem with the Third World, the U.S. team defeated the European Union's eco-imperialistic demand for an anti-poor quota of the least efficient, most land-intensive, most expensive energy technologies.

Compare this with the U.S. Senate, which, in the current conference over domestic energy legislation, appears ready to capitulate on the latter pro-people, pro-growth energy stance with the White House's passive assistance in the form of signaling a willingness to sign anything called an "energy bill." This contrast only makes the performance of the U.S. delegation to Johannesburg even more impressive than most conservatives dreamed was possible.


Senior fellow

Competitive Enterprise Institute


No child left behind

In "Homeland security in knots" (Commentary, Sept. 4), James R. Edwards Jr. grossly distorts the facts as he rails against provisions of a new homeland security bill that are intended to protect refugee children. Does Mr. Edwards really believe a proposal that would provide children in immigration proceedings with legal representation would "risk sovereignty and undermine the Constitution?" Or that making sure that immigrant children are not jailed alongside adults is a "leftist proposal?" Protecting those who come to America seeking safety and freedom from persecution because of their political beliefs or their religious faith is not "leftist." It's not "rightist" either; it's just right.


Director of the Washington office

Lawyers Committee for Human Rights


The Emerald Isle's predictable leftist

Mary Robinson's disastrous tenure as U.N. human rights commissioner was all too foreseeable ("Good riddance to you, Mrs. Robinson," Editorial, Sunday). Her orchestration of the debacle at Durban, South Africa, last year and her attempts to undermine America's war on terrorism were eminently predictable.

Mrs. Robinson's anti-Americanism need have surprised no one. In 1984, as a senator for Ireland's socialist Labor Party, she orchestrated a boycott by leftist legislators of President Reagan's address to a joint session of the Irish legislature. Her bad manners enhanced her career, making her a heroine to Ireland's small but highly influential chattering class of anti-American bien-pensants.

Nor should Mrs. Robinson's ambivalence about resisting terrorism have come as a shock. For seven years, she was president of a nation that mostly looked the other way while tons of terrorist explosives and weapons were stockpiled on its soil. Most of those terrorist supply dumps remain to this day, improbably "hidden" in a tiny country where knowing one's neighbors' business is a national avocation. Mrs. Robinson's performance at the United Nations demonstrates that the twin bad habits of appeasing terrorism and bashing America are very hard to break.


Evanston, Ill.

You're joking, eh?

Arnold Beichman made a novel suggestion in his Thursday Commentary column: that our prime minister make combating terrorism part of his legacy ("Timid on terrorism"). His suggestion, while interesting, is unnecessary.

Canadian-U.S. cooperation on fighting terrorism is airtight. Trying to drive a wedge in this shared agenda is wrong, and The Washington Times should know better.

Articulating views in a global debate about a major military operation is not opposition. Rather, it's a legitimate contribution to the consideration of options about courses of action. This is what friends and allies do.

Yes, the Canadian military has had to make difficult decisions, as has the rest of our government, in the successful effort to get our fiscal house in order. Despite those challenges, our military has served with great distinction alongside U.S. forces. Canadian men and women, serving in uniform, have made a valuable contribution in Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia, East Timor, the former Yugoslavia and Afghanistan as the author is no doubt well aware.

The United States began its week of commemoration with a special focus on the Michigan-Ontario border. I don't think the Bush administration chose to do this because it perceives the border as "porous." What is porous is Mr. Beichman's portrayal of Canada's commitment to cooperation on the border, which was under way long before September 11, 2001.



Canadian embassy


Steel editorial showed Bush's mettle

"A steely resolve in Paris" (Editorial, yesterday) was a breath of fresh air. Previous commentaries in The Washington Times have criticized the Bush administration for imposing steel tariffs, calling Mr. Bush's action reckless and irresponsible. The European Union and Japan, they predicted, would retaliate with their own tariffs, leading to a major trade war. While the European Union and Japan certainly have threatened retaliation, none has been forthcoming. Foreign leaders know that the consequences of such retaliation would make it counterproductive.

On the other hand, this latest editorial correctly noted the huge subsidies foreign governments provide to their steel industries and the trade barriers they erect to keep American steel from penetrating their home markets. Furthermore, while it's true that American steel producers have raised domestic steel prices since the tariffs were imposed, the industry is just now returning to prices it charged in 1979. Twenty-three years of upward cost pressure on everything from labor, health care benefits and energy with no way for steel makers to recover those higher costs from the marketplace because of cheap imports have resulted in massive bankruptcies and unemployed steelworkers.

The editorial also shed the light of day on the relatively minor role steel plays in the cost of finished goods. The auto industry bemoans higher steel prices, but in reality, steel accounts for just 3.4 percent of the cost of auto parts. This begs the question: Why hasn't the auto industry been as aggressive in controlling its own cost of manufacture as it has been in supporting cheap foreign steel to the detriment of the domestic steel industry?

Although the editorial did not mention them, currency exchange rates also play a major role in international trade. Our historically strong dollar has helped make foreign steel a bargain. Recent fluctuations in the dollar-yen relationship prompted Japanese officials to declare that if the yen fell below 115 to the dollar, the Japanese government would intervene. The Japanese must preserve their "net exporter" status and are willing to artificially adjust their currency to accomplish this. Is that free trade?

Mr. Bush was right to impose tariffs on imported steel. Thank you for having the interest to investigate this complex subject and for publishing the truth about what is really going on.


North Olmsted, Ohio

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