- The Washington Times - Friday, March 7, 2003

The language of Heaven

After reading Wesley Pruden's column "A gift from Heaven, but not in French" (Nation, Tuesday), I could only think of recently departed columnist Balint Vazsonyi. Among his many excellent ideas, one of his foremost theses was that the understanding of liberty and freedom was inherent in the dynamic, living language of English not just inherent, but that English was necessary for the propagation of liberty.
Just as I was filled with a great sadness when I read that he went to the Lord, I remembered him with a certain amount of happiness when I read Mr. Pruden's excellent column. English is most certainly spoken in Heaven, where no one speaks it more proudly than Mr. Vazsonyi.

San Ramon, Calif.

Powell's double standard

According to Nat Hentoff's column, "Colin Powell's teen act" (Op-Ed, Monday), Secretary of State Colin L. Powell denounces homophobia but is opposed to lifting the ban on lesbian, homosexual and bisexual service members because of concerns about privacy. These seemingly contradictory stances raise the question: Why does Mr. Powell support gay rights in the civilian context but continue to oppose gays in the military?
Mr. Powell's argument that the unique military environment characterized by forced living conditions will upset the privacy interests of gay service members is unjustified. According to a recent study, one-third of naval officers say they know someone in uniform who is homosexual. According to a recent article in International Security magazine, lifting the gay ban will not compromise heterosexual privacy, as nothing will change in military living quarters.
As Mr. Powell argues on behalf of democracy and freedom abroad, he would do well to uphold the same values at home.

Executive director
Servicemembers Legal Defense Network

Executive director
Center for the Study of Sexual Minorities in the Military
University of California at Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara

A miss on the Swiss

Tom Carter's review of Stuart E. Eizenstat's book, "Imperfect Justice: Looted Assets, Slave Labor, and the Unfinished Business of World War II," with its odious cover superimposing a golden swastika over the white cross of Switzerland, is unworthy of The Washington Times ("Silence and ill-gotten gold," Op-Ed, Tuesday).
During World War II, one-fifth of the Swiss population was mobilized to resist Adolf Hitler's goal of conquering the democratic Swiss Confederation. Gen. Henri Guisan, the Swiss commander in chief, ordered a policy of no surrender, meaning a fight to the last man, if necessary. And it might have been necessary.
Stephen Halbrook's book, "Target Switzerland: Swiss Armed Neutrality in World War II," proves that Hitler despised the Swiss state but had to repeatedly revise invasion plans because of Guisan's preparations for prolonged resistance in an Alpine redoubt. Would Mr. Carter care to repeat to an aging Swiss veteran his sneering claim that "the Swiss national identity … of Heidi, chocolate, and Swiss neutrality … [is] a myth"?
Mr. Carter claims the Eizenstat book shows that the Swiss collaborated with the Nazis, but if the Swiss had wanted to collaborate, they would have turned over the approximately 1,700 American airmen they sheltered during the war and shut down Allen Dulles' Office of Strategic Services espionage ring in Zurich.
Mr. Halbrook points out that the Swiss sheltered more Jewish refugees during the war than did the United States. Some Swiss bankers may have profited from their dealings with wartime Germany, but that is no excuse for Mr. Carter's ridiculous claim that Swiss armed neutrality was "a myth." After the fall of France in 1940, the Swiss were completely surrounded by the Axis powers and had little choice but to trade with them. To employ the same logic, was Franklin D. Roosevelt's government a collaborator in Soviet dictator Josef Stalin's murderous regime because of its anti-fascist alliance?
I leave you with British leader Winston Churchill's verdict: "Of all the neutrals, Switzerland has the greatest right to distinction. … She has been a democratic state, standing for freedom in self-defense among her mountains, and in thought, in spite of race, largely on our side."


A torturous proposal

I am a regular reader of The Washington Times Web site. While occasionally I have not agreed with some editorials, I have never been so horrified as I was by Jack Wheeler's "Interrogating KSM" (Op-Ed, Wednesday). Advocating the brutal torture of a prisoner, in this case Khalid Shaikh Mohammed? Come on.
Where do I start in renouncing this? Let's start with the basics. Torture is against the Geneva Convention. It is against basic international law. It violates the principle of human rights that we as Americans should support. Morally and ethically, it is just wrong.
Part of the reason I support the removal of Saddam Hussein is to free the Iraqi people from oppression and brutality. Torture is among the types of actions we condemn Saddam for performing. When we resort to the same behavior, we become almost indistinguishable from the regime we are trying to remove. The ends do not always justify the means.
American idealism is one of the greatest assets of these United States. Oppressed people around the world look to America to support human rights, that is, the rights of all humans. We must not diminish or sacrifice our integrity. Victory without honor or integrity is a hollow victory, indeed.

Austin, Texas

Jack Wheeler has come up with an imaginative scheme for extracting information from captured terrorists. But, as is often the case with imaginative schemes, reality won't cooperate. Mr. Wheeler would have us use a paralytic agent on the terrorist and cut off his oxygen supply if and when he lied. What Mr. Wheeler forgets is that the ability to speak is lost before the ability to breathe, so he would be dealing with a conscious but speechless terrorist. You could cut off his oxygen all you wanted, and all you would end up with would be a blue, speechless terrorist.
If you really wanted to torture the terrorist, all you would have to do would be to render him paralyzed with the drug mentioned and then admit him to the nearest American emergency room. Doctors are not very good at dealing with paralyzed but conscious patients they tend to forget that patients who cannot respond to pain may still feel it and the only difference between medical care and torture is the intended outcome. Doing that still wouldn't give you the information you wanted, but maybe Mr. Wheeler would feel better knowing that the terrorist would suffer in the process.


Who needs 'military eggheads'?

Wednesday's article on the timing of a war against Iraq ("Bush will keep vow on 'weeks' until war," Page 1) suggests that military-loathing ignorance and arrogance did not leave the White House with the Clinton administration.
Case in point: the Bush aide who said, "What are the perfect conditions? Well, that's for a bunch of military eggheads to sit and kick around. It's not really what the president does for a living." This fellow ought to be looking for work elsewhere.
If this aide is representative of the thinking among President Bush's policy advisers, I worry that the president is getting poor advice and only on a "need to know" basis, at that.

Bluffton, S.C.

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