- The Washington Times - Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Open negotiations

I appreciated The Washington Times’ report on the recent meeting with the president of the International Criminal Court, Judge Philippe Kirsch of Canada, hosted by the Council on Foreign Relations (“Global tribunal seeking stature,” Page 1, Jan. 17). As your report made clear, Judge Kirsch repeatedly emphasized that the ICC is intended to deal only with the most serious situations and is not empowered to second-guess the decisions of national court systems. It is a safety net below states where the courts have ceased to function.

The article notes that former Defense Secretary Robert S. McNamara attended the briefing and asked about the definitions of war crimes. As Judge Kirsch noted — and former chief U.S. negotiator David J. Scheffer confirmed — the United States played a dominant role in drafting Article 8 of the ICC statute listing war crimes. Because the United States remained actively engaged in the ICC negotiations, the U.S. delegation also was the leading voice in crafting the detailed document setting forth the elements of crimes covered by the ICC. Career lawyers from the Pentagon were vital participants in the U.S. delegation and joined in the unanimous interagency agreement endorsing the list and definitions of ICC war crimes. Engagement worked.

Your report failed to note, however, the following important comment by Mr. McNamara: “I am strongly in favor of the U.S. supporting the court.”

STEPHEN RICKARD

Acting director

Open Society Institute

Washington

The ALA and Castro

The readers of The Washington Times should be made aware that not all of the American Library Association’s leadership was opposed to an amendment advocating freedom for Fidel Castro’s library prisoners (“Carrying Fidel’s water,” Op-Ed, Monday). They were just outvoted by Castro supporters.

JOHN D. BERRY

Ethnic Studies Library

University of California at Berkeley

Berkeley, Calif.

Mistaken identities

You may have done a disservice to Irshad Manji regarding her statements about reforming Islam (“Islamic insights … and pressures,” Commentary, Sunday). You mistakenly stated, “When asked why the Muslim world has failed to produce a Martin Luther King figure to lead Islam out of its current predicament, Miss Manji said, ‘What we need is a Martin Luther because we need to achieve a counter-reformation to those who claim to be fundamentalist reformers.’ ”

I think you meant, like she, to say Martin Luther, not Martin Luther King. Islam needs a reformer from within its ranks, like the monk Martin Luther, who sought to reform his own church. Martin Luther King, as a victim of racism, was not a powerful insider, but part of a repressed minority. That’s a significant distinction, although it would appear that in either case, there would be death threats and danger for whoever speaks up.

JAY HERMANN

Long Beach, Calif.

What a beautiful choice

Thank you for your news coverage of Thursday’s pro-life rally in Washington (“Roe marches on,” Metropolitan, Friday). It was difficult to access media coverage of this massive rally from several national sources and those nearest to me.

I believe there is a bias against balanced coverage of this incendiary issue by the liberal-dominated broadcast and print media. These outlets no doubt would extend substantial coverage to a similar rally of this size conducted by pro-choice forces. Please begin daily delivery service in the Baltimore metropolitan area. We desperately need The Washington Times.

ROBERT D. MOORE

Cockeysville, Md.

A Saudi hometown perspective

As a local from Sakaka, Saudi Arabia, commenting on the article “Saudi town sows seeds of revolution” (Page 1, Monday), I wonder: What is the purpose behind such a misleading report? As we are located just miles away from a 497-mile-long international border with turbulent Iraq, and with 248½ miles of international border with Jordan, we have the same problems the United States has with Mexico: drug trafficking, weapons smuggling and illegal immigration.

What is worse is that we have a neighbor (Iraq) who has been at war for the last couple of decades.That’s why we are experiencing mob confrontations and innocents are being caught in the crossfire. If there is someone to blame, it is Saddam Hussein, who dragged the region into a dark destiny. The aftermath of this situation has been increasing unemployment and a growing crime rate. Nevertheless, we are sure the security and progress we experienced for the last half century before Saddam will return.

KHALID ALSAEED

Sakaka, Saudi Arabia

Taxes for all

Patrice Hill (“Some with no jobs shun work for the dole,” Page 1, Monday) ignores an important distinction between the wages paid to legal workers and to illegal aliens: the deduction of taxes and Social Security. Many, if not most, illegal aliens are paid under the table. Therefore, neither they nor their employer pay taxes on their incomes.

It will be interesting, should the president’s plan pass in some form, to see how eager employers won’t be to assume the new expense of actually having to deduct taxes.

MARA ALEXANDER

Alexandria

A nuclear attack on the U.S.

In Sunday’s edition, you published a column by Robert Housman (“Pound of cure for terror,” Commentary) that discussed the effects of a possible nuclear strike on New York City. I do not know who his “experts” are, but I know his data is garbage, so far off as to be subject to ridicule.

His numbers for the dead in such an attack may well be accurate (or even low). I have not personally conducted such a study, and in any event, it has been decades since I was trained in nuclear weapons effects and targeting. I do know, however, that in a nuclear strike on New York, the majority of deaths would not be from nuclear radiation; they would be from having buildings fall on people. Of course, those within the fireball would be vaporized, but the radius from ground zero within which buildings would be toppled would be much greater than the radius of the fireball and also greater than the radius of lethal effect from initial radiation. You need to get “experts” who actually know what they are talking about.

A. MARK RATNER

Nashua, N.H.


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