- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 13, 2003

Problems remain in Iraq

In your editorial, “Iraq: better than you think” (Friday), you suggest that the current instability in Iraq is due to “a mere handful of terrorists [who] can cause considerable carnage” and that the answer is simply to continue tracking down Ba’athists.

While I do not argue the fact that Saddam Hussein’s regime was a brutal one and should be held accountable for its crimes against humanity, some other factors must be considered when evaluating the current situation in Iraq. The war on Iraq by U.S. and British forces has seen large numbers of Iraqi civilians killed. Unexploded cluster bombs pose a continuing risk. Amnesty International has received reports of torture or ill-treatment of detained Iraqis by Coalition forces. Widespread looting and disorder continue, and access to potable water remains a serious problem. Access to health care and medicines is increasingly difficult as medical stocks and equipment run low.

We cannot afford to put hungry, sick children on hold while we focus on defeating unnamed terrorists in a country for which we have yet to see evidence of an al Qaeda connection.



MARY T. SHAW

Greater Philadelphia metropolitan area coordinator

Amnesty International USA

Norristown, Pa.

Your editorial predictably failed to indicate that retired Gen. Anthony Zinni’s audience consisted of Navy and Marine officers, many of whom just returned from Iraq, who gave his remarks an enthusiastic and extended ovation.

This was hardly an uninformed or “politicized” audience. Perhaps our returning military people have a more realistic grasp of what is really happening “on the ground” in that dysfunctional part of the world than Mr. Bush and his apologists.

JOHN FULLER

Baltimore

China benefits from devaluation

Regarding “Senators complain Beijing is ‘cheating’” and “Chinese goods increase deficit” (Business, Friday): A little historical background helps understand China’s present mounting trade surplus vis-a-vis the United States. In 1994, China devalued its currency (the renminbi) by about 40 percent when it unified its exchange rate and set a new dollar rate that has changed little since. Consequently, in the ensuing decade, China improved its export competitiveness vis-a-vis each of America’s traditional trading partners in East and Southeast Asia. Simply put, U.S. trade balances with these nations improved, but those with China worsened.

Some American officials praised China’s refusal to devalue its currency during the 1997-1998 Asian financial crisis, which could have set off a competitive devaluation, but China’s 1994 devaluation actually constituted a distant cause for the Asian crisis.

The Chinese government cited its fear of social instability in rebuffing Treasury Secretary John W. Snow’s recent request, but this only shows that the current government bases its legitimacy on export-led growth and not on democracy.

Congress is right to ask China to adjust its currency against the dollar.

VINCENT WEI-CHENG WANG

Associate professor of Asian politics

University of Richmond

Richmond, Va.

Continuing to need leaders in Congress

In regard to Texas Republican Sen. John Cornyn’s Op-Ed, “Continuity of Congress” (Friday): If such a catastrophic event as Mr. Cornyn describes should befall Congress — the killing or incapacitation of sufficient numbers of members to prevent a quorum — what we will need is leadership. I do not see any evidence that we currently get that out of Congress. So, I remain unconvinced that there is a need to address the “problem” he describes.

This Congress, and a few preceding it, have failed on many fronts, not the least of which is the current Senate’s failure to fill judicial vacancies. Other failures include, but are not limited to:

Failure to control spending (e.g., the farm bill);

Failure to support our military with significant pay and benefits — yet they seem to have time to take care of themselves;

Failure to address airport security prior to September 2001, when millions of dollars were spent on a whitewash study in 1998 headed up by Al Gore and Linda Daschle;

Failure to review the documentation of Bill Clinton’s malfeasance prior to voting on the articles of impeachment;

Failure of the entire Congress to take action to stop their annual pay raise from going into effect, even as they pontificate about the economy, job losses, etc.;

Failure to stand up to the McCain-Feingold attack on the First Amendment. What part of “Congress shall make no law …” is not clear to Congress? How many more of these do we have to endure?

Congress is a waste of oxygen. The Senate as currently configured does more harm than good. Under former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, and now Bill Frist of Tennessee, they appear to roll over and put their feet in the air as the Democratic dogs approach.

Continuity of Congress needed? I don’t think so. Cut their pay and send them home.

SUSAN D. HARMS

Houston

Shower with the Kobe facts

In regard to the article, “Kobe’s mistake: Being a guy” (Sports, Friday): OK, let me get this straight. Tom Knott thinks we should: a) Pity Kobe Bryant because he couldn’t resist an adulterous temptation; b) Sympathize with Kobe Bryant because he married early; c) Understand that Kobe Bryant, as a professional athlete and a (former) role model for countless young men, got bad advice from his father-in-law and his coach when they told him not to marry so soon; d) Absolve Kobe Bryant because he reportedly took advantage of a unstable woman; and e) Laugh along with “the guys” because hey, after all, she came on to him?

Please. Mr. Knott might want to think about taking a break from his misogynistic musings before sharing with us his perspective on this case. Let the facts speak for themselves. Then take a cold shower.

BRUCE R. MENDELSOHN

Rockville

Battle of wills in facing terror

The article, “Joint Chiefs chairman urges Senate panel to back troops” (Page 1, Wednesday) highlights the adroitness with which antiwar politicians will twist words in order to avoid criticism by hiding behind the our troops.

Witness this recent exchange between Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Richard B. Myers and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Massachusetts Democrat:

“It is a battle of wills,” Gen. Myers told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The terrorists have said, and think, they are going to win. They are absolutely wrong about that. They will not win. They can’t win. We can’t let them win, and we won’t. We are going to win as long as we have the continuing will of the American people.”

Mr. Kennedy later replied that the issue was about securing Iraq and not “about the will, the patriotism, the determination of the troops.”

I had the pleasure of working with Gen. Myers, and I don’t think he was talking about the “will, the patriotism, the determination” of our American troops.

Gen. Myers knows better than Mr. Kennedy that our military will have “the will to win.” I won’t presume to read Gen. Myers’ mind, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he was addressing his remarks to audience in front of him — Mr. Kennedy and the rest of the Armed Services Committee.

We know the track record of our troops, as well of Mr. Kennedy. Unlike the troops, we cannot assume that Mr. Kennedy and others do have a will to win.

ROBERT ANDREWS

Washington

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