- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 19, 2004

Balkan ghouls

Thank you for Helle Dale’s Op-Ed column “Balkan ghosts” (Wednesday).

I agree with much of Mrs. Dale’s argument, but at the same time take exception to two points.

Like many other foreign policy analysts, she has used the following cookie-cutter statement: “horrendous war crimes committed by all sides.”

This simple statement detracts from the validity of her work. It is a cardinal rule of effective journalism not to paint all groups with the same brush. By referring to “all sides,” she could be seen to be allocating war crimes equally among the three main ethnic groups, even though it may not be her intention to do so. For the unaware reader, Mrs. Dale is painting a misleading picture.

It may be true that both the English and Germans committed war crimes in World War II, but it must be stressed that what the Germans did from 1939 to 1945 was incomparable in terms of numbers of victims, horror and brutality.

Therefore, as a responsible journalist, Mrs. Dale owes it to your readers to mention that according to the International Criminal Tribunal, more than 90 percent of the murders, rapes and tortures were committed by Serbian forces. This was also noted by the CIA.

As for Mrs. Dale’s argument that Croats forced the ethnic Serbian minority to flee: This, too, is disputed by fact. Serbian leader Milan Martic ordered his residents to leave before the Croatian push for liberation.



Intelligent forecasting

Bruce Fein raises an excellent point in “Analysts wanted” (Commentary, Tuesday) about the value of open-source intelligence to policy-makers. However, he overextends his argument by stating that open-source intelligence can be “sufficient to provide the president with enlightened national security or foreign policy advice.”

Open-source intelligence, a combination of historical lessons and current assessments of individuals and events, assists in understanding why and how certain events occur. Forecasting based on historical trends and insights into human behavior can provide insight into future security problems.

However, classified intelligence is essential for insight into the future operations of opponents and their decision-making processes under pressure. The classified intelligence provided by certain Russian spies during the Cold War was invaluable, as is certain counterterrorism intelligence today. These two methods complement each other in providing a deeper perspective for policy-makers.


Knoxville, Tenn.

Neighborly northerners?

Arnold Beichman wades into the Canadian election campaign, a subject about which he demonstrates he is ill-informed, with his rant against the ruling Liberal Party and the former administration of Prime Minister Jean Chretien (“Shifting northern winds,” Commentary, yesterday).

Most egregious is Mr. Beichman’s claim that the “September 11, 2001, tragedy was virtually ignored by the Canadian government.” Later, he backpedals slightly, saying, “the Canadian people demonstrated their generosity to the thousands of airline passengers whose planes en route to the U.S. on September 11 were suddenly diverted to Canadian airports.”

Who does Mr. Beichman think authorized the diversion and safe landing of those aircraft? The Canadian government played a key role in helping the United States on September 11.

Since then there has been a “difference of opinion,” as President Bush likes to say, between the Canadian people and the foreign policies of the Bush administration. Despite the surge in popularity for Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, polls consistently show a large majority of Canadians do not support the war in Iraq.


Hamilton, Ontario

It’s very rare that Canada gets political coverage in major U.S. newspapers, let alone any coverage, so I found the Washington Times piece by Arnold Beichman extraordinary. Mr. Beichman is correct when he states there are shifting northern winds in Canada; however, I think a hurricane would be a more appropriate term. Canadians from coast to coast are fuming at the waste and mismanagement of our tax dollars by the corrupt Liberal government in Ottawa. A recent poll reflects the growing tide of animosity toward the current government: The Conservatives, led by Stephen Harper, have garnered 36 percent of popular support compared with 31 percent for the Liberals, who are led by Prime Minister Paul Martin. Despite the relentless Liberal attack ads accusing the Conservatives of a “hidden agenda” and of being too “U.S.-friendly,” more and more Canadians are demanding a change of regime.

The state of our nation, and strengthening our relationship with the United States, depend on Mr. Harper’s becoming the next prime minister. Canadians simply cannot afford another term of sleaze.


Vancouver, British Columbia

As a Canadian, I would like to respond to Arnold Beichman’s assertions in “Shifting northern winds”:

1. The Liberal Party of Canada under Jean Chretien was not hostile to the United States. In fact, during the Clinton years, Canada and the United States enjoyed a flourishing relationship. The two men are very good friends to this day. However, when President Bush took power, the relationship between the two countries soured a little. Based on the unilateralist approach favored by Mr. Bush in all world affairs, could it be that he is responsible for the state of our relationship?

2. Mr. Beichman seems offended because Mr. Chretien did not convene Parliament after the events of September 11. May I remind Mr. Beichman that we are a sovereign nation and that convening Parliament merely to appease Mr. Bush is not a requirement of being a good neighbor? Many Canadians donated their money and time for the victims of the attack. Many of the passengers on the planes forced to land in Canada were invited into the homes of Canadian families. Those gestures are far more significant that the “symbolic” gesture of convening Parliament to announce our sympathy and outrage that any decent human being felt at the time.

3. The United States is, in fact, Canada’s largest trading partner, but does Mr. Beichman know that the reverse also is true? Thirty-eight states do most of their business with Canada. That’s more than 75 percent of the United States. So, both sides have a vested interest in maintaining a great relationship, but that does not mean our prime minister is to agree with Washington on everything for this relationship to be strong.



Humane executions

The execution of Steven Oken in Maryland was almost stopped because lethal injection “could be unconstitutionally cruel if the state’s execution team had to cut deeply into his flesh to administer the lethal drugs,” according to an appeal by his attorney (“Oken executed after appeals denied,” Metropolitan, Friday).

I recommend that states adopt the execution method used in partial-birth abortions. In that type of abortion, the back of the partially delivered baby’s head is pierced and the brains are sucked out. This could not be “cruel” because these abortions have been performed for years by trained professionals.

There is a law banning partial-birth abortions, but many pro-choice groups and politicians oppose it, indicating they see nothing wrong with this method. There are lawsuits against the ban, and some judges have stopped the ban from being put into effect, indicating that they, too, approve of this method.

Another advantage is that just as this method leaves the baby’s body intact for sale of organs for medical research, an intact adult body would be available for organ transplants.

Some people oppose the death penalty and might find this or any method appalling — but anyone who opposes the death penalty and supports abortion opposes executing the guilty and supports executing the innocent. Anyone who supports abortions is an accomplice to those executions.


Waldorf, Md.

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