- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Cuban-Americans should back prudential reforms

The article "Cuban dissident calls for change from within" (Page 1, Saturday) reports that Oswaldo Paya was to fly to Miami this past weekend to hear criticism and seek support from the Cuban-American community for the Varela Project, a petition drive to bring democratic reforms to Cuba through a referendum.

In my opinion, Fidel Castro would love it if Cuban-Americans were to discredit the Varela Project. He would resort to his old tricks of equating this community with the Mafia and claiming that it wants to have things its own way without regard to fellow Cubans. Mr. Castro would conclude that because the Varela Project lacked support from Cubans in the diaspora, there is no need for it, and he would eliminate it. He might then impose a long prison sentence on Mr. Paya and offer a toast in honor of those foolish Cuban-Americans for making his job so easy.

However, according to a Bendixen and Associates poll released last month, 68 percent of Miami's Cuban-Americans support Mr. Paya's Varela Project, and just 9 percent oppose it. Considering the media's predisposition to malign the Cuban-American community, it is important to highlight these statistics.

Cuban-Americans finally have realized that disputes are settled in a linear fashion, rather than in a circular manner. While some would prefer that a post-Castro Cuba rely on the tenets of the 1940 constitution, most realize that would be unrealistic. Consequently, they understand that the Varela Project represents the best alternative to partially restore democracy to Cuba while Mr. Castro is still in power.


JORGE PONCE

Burke

Why sexual 'equality' is bad for the military and a potential draft

The Jan. 7 editorial "Rangel's draft bill" was thought-provoking. One would surmise, based on Rep. Charles B. Rangel's track record, that his bill is just a political attempt to make statements concerning socioeconomic inequality and war in general. Few suspect that the New York Democrat actually would support a draft if it had a chance of being approved. Nonetheless, I agree with the editorial that a draft could have a useful and meaningful function in protecting our society as well as fostering fundamental American values. Yet, I was surprised and dismayed by the editorial's assertion that a draft necessarily must include young women.

The basic premise underlying this notion is a flawed and most dangerous remnant of feminist politics. I can tell you that there is little to no "equality" between the sexes when it comes to accomplishing the Army's primary mission. Warfare is, and always has been, the province and responsibility of men. This is not because of any traditional cultural pressures, but because of the obvious physical and psychological differences between men and women that many people pretend do not exist.

As most men who have served in the Army since the end of the Vietnam War will verify, the winds of political sensitivity combined with the moral cowardice of elected leaders and the top careerist military officials have created a "kinder and gentler" military structure that in many ways is a ghost of its earlier self. This new military suffers from chronic weaknesses resulting from the elevation of the "equality" of women over combat readiness, a fact that few have the courage to admit and of which the public is ill-informed. For example, women serve in most of the same roles as men, but are never required to meet all of the same standards of physical performance, standards that always have been regarded as essential to military readiness.

The editorial stated that "combat positions are only a small percentage of the total force" in today's military. However, what is unknown to many is that the military, and the Army in particular, has "advanced" duty positions for women that bring them closer than ever to combat. Women serve in the most forward support battalions that operate right behind the lines of combat. Any intelligent enemy would rather attack the truck that carries fuel for tanks than the tanks themselves, and under today's rules, a woman may be driving that truck. If we ever again face an adversary with the means and determination to really fight, the cost in young women's lives will be both unexpected and intolerable.

The question that must be asked in this debate is, "To whom would drafting women be more equitable or fair?" Certainly not to most women, who wish never to be near combat and are deceived into thinking they never will be, even if they are in the service. Nor would it be fair to the women who would be exposed to combat or capture and would suffer in ways unique to their sex. Nor would it be fair to the men who would be forced to place their lives into the hands of women who are not as physically capable.

The editorial correctly noted that drafting women would bring up "large and contentious cultural issues." It would be dangerous to underestimate the cost of the reaction if the government comes knocking on the door to force America's wives, mothers, sisters and daughters into military service and harm's way. I submit that many of those who answer this knock will be warriors, old and young, who will be compelled to take up arms against their own country before allowing this great harm to their families and to the nation.


CAPT. ROGER IVEY

U.S. Army

Fort Carson, Colo.

No partying in the Constitution

Balint Vazsonyi's column, "The conscience of the artist" (Commentary, Sunday), contains a misstatement of fact that ought to have been corrected before it made the page. He erroneously claims that "this republic was conceived as a two-party system."

In fact, this republic was not conceived as a two-party or any-party system. Political parties are privately organized factions that are not provided for by the Constitution, laws or governmental system of the United States.


KEVIN MOORE

Decatur, Ala.

Witness for the prosecution

Paul Craig Roberts owes every prosecutor in America an apology for his irresponsible column, "When convictions are mistaken" (Commentary, yesterday). While I certainly agree that everyone should be concerned about wrongful convictions, Mr. Roberts incorrectly accuses prosecutors of emphasizing convictions at all cost, regardless of innocence or guilt.

The National District Attorneys Association, on whose board of directors I proudly serve, has taken strong positions on the use of DNA technology to convict the guilty and protect the innocent, as well as the competency of defense counsel in capital cases. If Mr. Roberts had simply taken the time to do some research, he would have discovered that it is the prosecuting attorney who seeks justice for all, not the defense attorney, whose only loyalty is to his client.

I further resent Mr. Roberts' assertion that plea bargains or negotiated pleas, as they are more properly called are somehow "coerced" or that they are tantamount to "torture." Such irresponsible rhetoric is incorrect and disrespectful to both prosecutors and defense attorneys, who are making the best of an overworked justice system.

It also is interesting to note that not one of the three "Benthamite atrocities" described by Mr. Roberts in his article had anything to do with prosecutors' actions. One concerned the Fairfax County police, and the other two involved proposed actions of the Securities and Exchange Commission. Yet the prosecutors somehow are at fault?

If Mr. Roberts is concerned about wrongful convictions, he should consider a proposal that would eliminate the citizen jury and opt for a jury of individuals trained in law and psychology. Or perhaps we should consider doing away with jury trials altogether and have panels of judges decide the guilt of those accused of crimes. Such a proposal would lessen juries' racial or class bias, though I doubt it would produce a better system than presently exists.

Maybe Mr. Roberts should consider his own journalistic misconduct before he accuses America's prosecutors of prosecutorial misconduct.


DAVID L. LANDEFELD

Prosecuting attorney

Fairfield County, Ohio


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