- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 10, 2004

An issue of truth

The Kerry campaign is on a slippery slope by invoking past statements that might have been supportive of his Vietnam War record (“Veteran stands by criticism of Kerry,” Nation, Saturday).

The issue is the truth. This matter can be put to rest by Sen. John Kerry simply authorizing the Defense Department to release his full military record, especially the “after-action” reports and the recommendations by superior officers that earned him his medals. Nothing more, nothing less.

If the charges are false, the members of the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth can be held to account. On the other hand, unless Mr. Kerry authorizes the release of his full military record, his Vietnam War “heroism,” which is the centerpiece of his candidacy, will continue to be in doubt.

Mr. Kerry undoubtedly realizes that a great issue also is his character. To continue evading what he, the Defense Department and God really know about his military record could be fatal to his candidacy. The American people can accept mistakes and perhaps some exaggerations, but not being lied to.

FRANK WENCESLAO

Norwalk, Calif.

Your editorial (“Kerry’s Vietnam service,” Monday) rightly says that it is the responsibility of the press to sort out the facts concerning the swift boat veterans, both pro- and anti-Kerry.

You say that one or the other must be lying. However, there is another possibility: that both are relating the facts as they know them, but have only part of the story.

For example, Jim Rassman remembers Mr. Kerry saving his life after an enemy ambush and regards that act with gratitude.

The Swift Boat Veterans for Truth do not dispute that and comment only on events leading up to that point. In their account, the boat led by Mr. Kerry fled the action while fighting was going on, and returned only later after hostile fire had subsided to perform the rescue.

The other boats all stayed, drove off the enemy and would have rescued Mr. Rassman. Mr. Rassman cannot tell about these events since he was, after all, reportedly dazed in the water. There seems to be no inconsistency here.

As for the press doing its job, I am afraid it will be up to The Washington Times. The “mainstream” media are in the tank for Mr. Kerry.

MIKE LION

Oak Bluffs, Mass.

“It is not beyond the realm of the media to discover whether or not Mr. Kerry was truthful on the floor of the Senate, nor should it be beyond Mr. Kerry to answer such a charge” (“Kerry’s ‘Christmas in Cambodia,’” Editorial, yesterday).

Sadly, it appears that it is beyond them both.

The press has had how many months, if not years, to find sailors who served in the same group, served on the same boat or commanded Mr. Kerry to get their stories? But it hasn’t.

As for the senator, given his predictable attack-and-deflect, “He doth protest too much” tactics, it’s unrealistic to expect him to be forthcoming and, if that, then fully so.

Wonder why it is that every other person in America can see that the solution to this flap is for Mr. Kerry to release all of his service records and respond point-by-point, except the senator himself? What’s he hiding?

C. KENNA AMOS JR.

Princeton, W.Va.

Censorship in Baghdad

Regarding “Baghdad suspends Arab TV station” (World, Sunday): I am disappointed by the interim Iraqi government’s decision to close down the al Jazeera television channel in Iraq for at least a month because of its editorial policy.

President Bush repeatedly tells us how our mission is to bring freedom and democracy to Iraq. Freedom of the press, freedom of dissent and freedom to criticize the government are hallmarks of democracy.

Earlier this year, conservative U.S. interests launched a crackdown on Howard Stern and other outspoken dissidents. Now the U.S.-appointed Iraqi authorities are following suit. Is Iraq becoming “Texas lite”?

MARY T. SHAW

Norristown, Pa.

Combating the nuclear threat

James T. Hackett in his article (“Weighing a strike on Iran,” Commentary, yesterday) argues that a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear weapons production facilities could be prevented “if the U.N. agrees to apply meaningful sanctions” against Iran. Yet, while Mr. Hackett is familiar with the facts regarding Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, his knowledge of the weaknesses of international sanctions is severely lacking.

In 2002, North Korea admitted violating the agreed framework, put forth in 1994 by the Clinton administration, under which Pyongyang vowed to refrain from reprocessing nuclear weapons-grade plutonium if it was permitted two nuclear power plants to generate electricity.

They lied, and more importantly, they admitted they lied, exposing the inadequacy of agreements with, and concessions to, dictators.

Two months ago, I-wei J. Chang, in his article “Nuclear terrorism realities” (World, June 28), ended his article by quoting Robert Einhorn, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Mr. Einhorn’s solution involves Europe and the United States working together in diplomatic engagement with Tehran, with the United States taking a softer stance and Europe taking a harsher position. But such a scenario can only work if the Europeans are willing to admit the threat posed by Iran’s pursuit of such weapons.

Fareed Zakaria agrees with this strategy in this week’s Newsweek (“The Stealth NuclearThreat”).Yet,even Madeleine K. Albright, former national security adviser and secretary of state to Bill Clinton, was quoted by Mr. Zakaria admitting an apparent unwillingness of Europeans to acknowledge the threat posed by a nuclear Iran.

Mrs. Albright even noted that in her dealings with her counterparts from the European Union, she sensed they viewed the United States as a greater threat than Iran.

Recent revelations indicate Saudi Arabia may have brokered a deal with Pakistan involving the payment of 50,000 barrels of oil a day in exchange for Pakistan’s military support (Roula Khalaf, et al., “Saudi Oil Money Joins Forces With Nuclear Pakistan,” London Financial Times, Thursday).

Under the terms of the deal apparently discussed two weeks before Pakistan’s nuclear test in 1998, the Saudis would supply Pakistan with a supply of oil to stave off the impact of international economic sanctions believed imminent following Pakistan’s nuclear tests.

In return, Pakistan would defend the Saudis with its nuclear weapons. Such a deal between two Muslim nations indicates that should Iran acquire nuclear weapons, the probability increases that certain nations may gain significant protection via Iran’s Shahab-3 medium range ballistic missile armed with a nuclear warhead. It also highlights the futility of sanctions on nations situated on the world’s most easily accessible supply of oil.

In fact, the United States cannot depend on the EU’s role as the “bad cop,” as Mr. Einhorn would call it. Nor can the United States rely upon the nations of the Middle East acting as reasonable players in world politics.

The fact remains that nations whose wealth was gained by no effort of their own are the least likely to adhere to what Immanuel Kant termed the “maxims of prudence.”

Rather, such nations have demonstrated repeatedly a willingness to employ a most ruthless nature long forgotten by civilized societies. A strike against Iran’s nuclear program is the best means of sustaining stability in the Middle East, with or without the EU or the United Nations.

PHILIP EVELAND

Aiea, Hawaii

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