Decision time for Kyoto
Tod Lindberg’s column, “Towards a humanist environmentalism” (Op-Ed, yesterday), got a lot right about President Bush’s environmental policies, but got one key fact wrong. Perpetuating the conventional myth that the United States somehow extricated itself from the Kyoto Treaty’s dangers merely by bad-mouthing it is perilous.
An example of the long-standing requirement for rejecting or withdrawing from a signed treaty may be found at www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2002/9968.htm, which cites the (actually) rejected International Criminal Court treaty. On the other hand, no such communication exists that the United States does not intend to become a party to Kyoto. Bad-mouthing a treaty or expressing disagreement with the fact that your predecessor signed it are, as matters of international law, meaningless gestures. Our country’s Nov. 12, 1998, signature remains valid.
As a result, and despite the president’s purported withdrawal, the United States recognizes a “law of nations” applicable to industrialized nations for purposes of the Alien Tort Statute, which allows foreigners to access U.S. court, and plaintiffs’ bar, for the purported environmental tort of “climate change.”
It also exposes exports to protectionism against U.S. goods in the name of global warming, as the Europeans have threatened if we do not raise our energy taxes to their own suffocating levels. This is because, according to both international and domestic law, the refusal to renounce our signature communicates U.S. agreement with Kyoto’s premise and prescription. After a series of unsupportable legal arguments, Bush administration officials ultimately privately conceded that their refusal to execute the president’s declared position was done in order not to upset the Europeans. Current circumstances fully expose that folly.
The bizarre result, of course, is that the administration took all of the downside from the president’s expressed position without garnering any of the benefits of actually rejecting Kyoto. This is why the Competitive Enterprise Institute and others have prepared a petition seeking a writ of mandamus to compel the State Department to execute the president’s decision as is statutorily required, the resolution of which also will resolve the question: Is the State Department unlawfully thwarting the president’s will, or is the Kyoto rhetoric merely a White House political sleight of hand? Either reality must be exposed to a full public debate.
CHRISTOPHER C. HORNER
Senior fellow and counsel
Competitive Enterprise Institute
Pakistan’s ‘glass half-full’
In his latest column, “Strategic stuff happens” (Commentary, Monday), Arnaud de Borchgrave, despite appearing sympathetic to Pakistan’s fate, is unduly alarmist and tends to perceive reality pessimistically. I, on the other hand, tend to see Pakistan’s socioeconomic and politico-military glass as half-full.
Subscriptions to Pakistani publications printed in English (Dawn, Nation, the News, Herald, etc.) number just around 150,000, while subscriptions to Urdu publications such as Jang, Nawa-i-Waqt and Khabrain are more than double that. Most of the population depends on the electronic media radio and television, mainly for news and information. Most are still under state control, although GEO TV, a private venture, is now on the air. It would not be an exaggeration to say that the state of the native-language media is at the level of what was happening in the United States at the turn of the last century. Therefore, one should judge the level of media development only by a country’s literacy level and overall political development.
The paranoia of Islamist officers is, unfortunately, just that: paranoid and misplaced. Pakistan’s army has never had Red elements or Bonapartist coups. Whenever the military has intervened, it has been a corporatist and popular decision usually in reaction to the malfeasance and misgovernance of the political order of the day (1958, 1969 and 1999) or near civil-war conditions (1977). The army is a modern, autonomous and disciplined organization that has acted in moments of national crises to stabilize the political situation and not at the behest of any individual to take over power.
Finally, reading anything ominous into India and Iran’s bilateral relations is a non-starter. Iran is Pakistan’s fraternal neighbor and has historic and strong ties with us. Iran’s President Muhammad Khatami visited Pakistan in December and reaffirmed our shared perspectives on the reconstruction of Afghanistan, construction of a gas pipeline ultimately leading to India and regional security issues. Iran has consistently supported Pakistan’s principled stand on the Indian occupation of Kashmir and called for a plebiscite to decide the future of the disputed territory.
Embassy of Pakistan
Smoking out terrorists
High taxes per se do not encourage cigarette smuggling (“Cigarette taxes for terrorists,” Editorial, Monday); it’s the disparity in tax rates. We should realize that the obscenely disproportionate tax rates of the tobacco-growing states compared to the rest of America have fueled the ambitions of the terrorists who are accused of running a cigarette-smuggling ring to funnel money to Hezbollah.
Philip Morris/Altria Group Inc.’s opposition to raising Virginia’s 2.5-cent cigarette tax is an unpatriotic gambit that will only serve to protect their sales in other states. Why is this corporation willfully wreaking havoc?
Tobacco-growing states’ low taxes foist upon the rest of the nation the very terrorist cigarette-smuggling racket the editorial bemoans.
I would like to make a correction to the editorial, “Cigarette taxes for terrorists,” which wrongly identifies the terrorist victim Robert Stethem as a Navy SEAL.Actually, Mr. Stethem was a Navy SeaBee, and his brother was a SEAL. This might not seem important to most readers, but it is to us Navy men who know the difference.
MASTER CHIEF PETTY OFFICER RAY STRAINING
U.S. Navy master diver (retired)
Panama City Beach, Fla.
Let hunters cure coyote problem
Monday’s Page One article “Coyotes poised to triumph in area” provided a good overview of the changing coyote demographics around Washington as their numbers increase and their habitat is destroyed. As I read through the major portion of the article, I found myself being swayed to sympathize with the apparently underfunded government program designated to help farmers upon whose livestock coyotes prey. Clearly, it seemed, the economic viability of raising sheep depended on the government’s protecting the ranchers from coyotes. The 20 percent budget cut cited in the article seemed to be one that should be restored.
Then I got to the end of the article, where I learned that the 394 coyotes “removed” by the government program were less than 7 percent of the number taken by hunters. Wait a minute. Here’s the solution: Eliminate the government program. Hunters pay for the privilege of practicing their craft. Most would jump at the chance to help a farmer by shooting or trapping coyotes on his property.
Instead of making the case for the utility of a government program, the article revealed how inadequate and costly it is. I would be willing to bet that the entire problem of coyote control could be handled by private citizens and volunteer groups within a reasonable framework of regulations.
DAVID W. PENNINGTON
Fox Lake, Ill.