- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 10, 2004

The Dresden denial

It seems that the moral and military controversy surrounding the bombing of Dresden and Hiroshima in World War II will never be put to rest. Gary Anderson’s murky review (“The dilemma of Dresden,” Op-Ed, Tuesday) of “Dresden: Tuesday, February 13, 1945,” by Frederick Taylor, adds fuel to the flames. Mr. Anderson says the book “convinces the reader that Dresden was a militarily significant target, as well as a hotbed of Nazi sympathy.” Hence, the U.S.-British firebombing that killed as many as many 135,000 Germans, including thousands of refugees fleeing the Red Army, was militarily justified.

City bombing is always brutal, but sometimes it was essential in our just war against Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan. It was right to bomb Berlin and Hamburg, Germany’s largest port, but Dresden was not a legitimate target.

Bymid-February1945, everyone knew that Germany was beaten.

Hitler’s barbarity didn’t justify the fiery obliteration of beautiful Dresden, known as the Florence of the north. Whether the bombing was done out of habit or revenge, British historian Paul Johnson has called it “the greatest Anglo-American moral disaster of the war against Germany.”

It is ironic that some Americans who justify the bombing of Dresden are highly critical of our atom bombing of Hiroshima. Here again, the facts are crucial. In the summer of 1945, the United States was making its final plans to invade Japan. Instead of surrendering, the Japanese military had organized a kamikaze suicide armada and mobilized a million soldiers and civilians to stop Americans on the beaches of mainland Japan.

The Aug. 6 atom bomb on Hiroshima killed 120,000 and helped push Japan toward surrender. The war’s abrupt end spared some 400,000 American POWs and civilian detainees in Japanese hands, all of whom were to be executed had we invaded. The U.S. Pacific command estimated that at least 500,000 Americans and three times as many Japanese would have died in an invasion. Thus, the atom bombs may have saved 2 million lives, mostly Japanese.

Beating our breasts over Hiroshima distorts history, but contrition over Dresden is an expression of our humanity.

ERNEST W. LEFEVER

Senior fellow

Ethics and Public Policy Center

Chevy Chase

Haiti’s kleptocratic cronies

In Georgie Anne Geyer’s persistent, headlong rush to blame the Bush administration for all the evils in the world (“Dysfunctional democracy,” Commentary, Monday) she goes too far in ascribing malicious results to American policy. She writes, “Finally, when Mr. [Jean Bertrand] Aristide ran phony parliamentary elections, we froze $500 million in international loans that would have improved roads, education, health care and water supplies.” I doubt it. That money would have ended up in the bony claws of Mr. Aristide or his kleptocratic cronies in Haiti. Or does Miss Geyer feel good money has to go chasing after bad regimes on the wings of some gossamer hope that it might do some good for the people?

RICHARD MANHARD

Ashburn, Va.

Economists of substance, not straw

William R. Hawkins claims that the typical economist is so benighted by old-fashioned theories that he or she is unaware that comparative advantage changes over time and that “multiple nations can have a comparative advantage in the same field” (“World trade realities,” Commentary, Tuesday). Mr. Hawkins then blusters into battle against his idiot straw man.

I challenge Mr. Hawkins to identify a single professional economist who has argued that comparative advantage does not change and ought not change over time, and that multiple nations cannot have a comparative advantage in the same field.

Straw men are easily slain; the principle of comparative advantage, properly understood, is not.

DONALD J. BOUDREAUX

Chairman, Department of Economics

George Mason University

Fairfax

FCC bark needs a bite

While I commend our friends at the National Association of Broadcasters (NAB) for calling for more industry self-regulation ofindecentprogramming (“House panel toughens fines for broadcast smut,” Nation, March 4), I see two principal reasons why self-regulation alone, in matters of indecency, is insufficient.

First is that broadcast indecency is a matter of law. The Federal Communications Commission’sstandardforwhat constitutes broadcast indecency has been upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court (see FCC vs. Pacifica, 1975). While industry self-regulation is helpful, it does not and cannot replace the law on this subject. As an aside, it is worth noting that the broadcast industry was generally happy with the law while it had no real teeth. The indecency fines that broadcasters are currently subject to are nothing more than an “indecency tax” — part of the cost of doing business.

This leads us to the second reason that self-regulation alone is inadequate: credibility. Or more accurately, a lack thereof. When FCC fines were so low they could be paid from “walking around money,” the hue and cry for industry self-regulation was, shall we say, sotto voce. Now that we are talking about multiple millions of dollars and potential license revocations, the broadcast and cable industries are singing a different tune. At this point, these seem more like “foxhole conversions” than a genuine change of heart.

I applaud NAB President Eddie Fritts for his leadership in calling for industry self-regulation, but I also support the efforts of Congress to give the FCC the tools it needs to resume its rightful role as defender of the public interest.

FRANK WRIGHT

President

National Religious Broadcasters

Manassas

Baltic states aren’t Russia’s cubs

I disagree with your encouragement of U.S. and European policy-makers to engage in “old-fashioned horse trading” with Russia (“The Russian bear and its former territories,” Editorial, Friday). The editorial misrepresents fact, suggests an irresponsible policy and departs from The Washington Times’ commendable support for the countries of Central and East Europe rejoining the rest of Europe.

First, to call the Baltic States “former Russian territories” legitimizes the shameful communist-Nazi (Molotov-Ribbentrop) pact and ignores the long-standing U.S. policy of non-recognition.

Moreover, it is misleading to construe the issues of Kaliningrad passage and the rights of Russian minorities as anything besides successes on the part of democratic Baltic governments in addressing two of many thorny Soviet legacies. If this were not the case, President Bush would never have accepted Baltic membership in NATO.

In a few weeks, the Baltic countries will formally become our allies in NATO. Today the Baltics are our allies in Iraq, where several Baltic soldiers have been wounded and one killed. To make principled stands with our allies on matters such as energy security and promoting democracy in Belarus is not vilifying Russia. To suggest, as the editorial does, that we cut deals with Russia on the Baltics’ right to join NATO is irresponsible, incongruous with administration policy and against all that the United States has worked for in the region.

The Bush administration is right to continue to pursue and promote our shared values and interests with our Baltic allies, rather than adopt a new quid pro quo approach to the Kremlin over Baltic membership in NATO. Congressional leaders such as Sen. John McCain are also right to speak honestly about our concerns over undemocratic forces in Minsk, Kiev and even Moscow. By contrast, I can’t think of a better way to vilify Russia than to encourage a creeping coup against democracy and fantasies of empire with offers of secret deals over the Baltics.

JEFF NELSON

Executive Director

U.S.-Baltic Foundation

Washington

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