- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 27, 2004

Yes to fest, no to animal tests

Washington Times readers may have been left with the mistaken impression that the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) takes an equivocal stance on animal testing by pet food companies (“Fest celebrates human-dog bond,” March 15, Metropolitan). As I explained to your reporter, we share the concerns expressed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals about animal testing conducted by a lab previously under contract with Iams, which is a sponsor of the “super dogs” event that HSUS helped organize recently at the MCI Center. We also question any need for classic laboratory animal tests for the purposes of improving the palatability of pet food.

HSUS is attempting to work with Iams to bring about an end to all laboratory-based animal tests authorized by the company. Although HSUS has been pleased to this point to work with Iams to bring educational events such as Pet Fest America to Washington, in no way should our participation in these events be taken as an endorsement of laboratory-based animal tests by the company. We have shared this opinion with Iams, and we will continue to make our views known in very clear terms.

NICK BRADEN

Director of public relations

The Humane Society of the United States

Washington

One nation, under — shh

I am dismayed by the mollifying acquiescence accorded Michael Newdow’s audacious appearance before the Supreme Court, arguing that the words “under God” be stricken from the Pledge of Allegiance (“Atheist spars with skeptical judges over Pledge,” Nation, Thursday). To me, he appears much like a small child kicking and screaming on the floor, as convincing and eloquent as his act may be.

Should one man’s arrogance impede the belief of the whole and cause us to deny our foundation? Many of us have ancestors who suffered for their belief in God precisely for the purpose of creating a place on earth that would be better than what they had left behind. That Mr. Newdow benefits from freedom to speak in public against God’s existence is a direct result of the openness and pluralism envisioned by those intending to build a society based upon the teachings of Jesus.

Mr. Newdow’s atheism disallows his right to the very freedoms he claims. If not “under God,” the very principles by which we live become devoid of meaning.

As a mother, I also want the right to speak freely in teaching my child about life. If you take “under God” away from “one Nation,” you are denying a basic truth of our history and our very existence.

Are we really so willing to let our history be rewritten into the void?

SUSANNA SELTZER

Washington

The Middle East’s terror monopoly

Claude Salhani (“A death, but not an end to killings”) and Arnaud de Borchgrave (“Geopolitically tone deaf”) both weighed in on the war on terror (Thursday, Commentary) and came to the same conclusion: that the solution lies not in arms, but in understanding. Both conclude that we must understand the poverty that prompts desperate men to desperate deeds. Mr. de Borchgrave, pained that no one in world likes us anymore, recommends a “recovery program” similar to the one used after World War II, and Mr. Salhani wants to address the motivation (poverty), too, but doesn’t offer anything specific.

If poverty were the root cause of terrorism, it is possible that a new Marshall Plan would help poor Muslims improve their lives, but poverty isn’t the root cause. The fomenters of terror are either well-to-do or upper-middle-class and generally are well-educated. One would have to look hard to find poverty among the September 11 murderers. The new head of Hamas in Gaza is a pediatrician by trade. Repeated studies of the motivations of suicide bombers have discounted the illusion that they come from or are motivated by poverty.

As for the assertion that force will not impede terrorism, Egypt’s handling of the Muslim Brotherhood showed otherwise. Syria’s dealing with its own version of the Brotherhood also was conclusive: 20,000 dead and the city of Hama flattened. The Saudis, too, will do what is necessary to quash their homegrown terrorists. No use of force will be spared in countries run by autocrats. (Only Israel’s hands are tied by world opinion, American hypocrisy and its native bleeding hearts. If not, Gaza could be leveled in a matter of days.) Force, adequately applied, works very well.

No, the problem of terrorism is not caused by poverty. It is caused by religion gone amok. The love of death of which the Islamists boast is borne of religious conviction, and no amount of Western “understanding” is going to change their minds. President Bush got it right: You’re with us or against us — and if against us, we will eliminate you. We will not take the time to understand you while you plot our destruction; we will pre-emptively destroy you. That’s the ticket.

DAVID KROSS

Columbia

I read Arnaud de Borchgrave’s column “Geopolitically tone deaf” with dismay, because I never could have imagined previously that one of our sharper political pundits could turn so “historically tone deaf.” Recommending the post-World War II European recovery plan as an anti-terrorism strategy is not only a facile appeal to the establishment’s “it’s-because-they’re-poor” orthodoxy, but it also ignores the historical fact that only the military defeat of the original axis of evil made such a plan workable.

Or would Mr. de Borchgrave have us believe that the hatred of Hitler and Mussolini and their minions toward Western democracy could have been assuaged by staging the Marshall Plan ahead of Operation Overlord, a cart-before-the-horse strategy, indeed. Moreover, despite Mr. de Borchgrave’s sniffing dismissal of building democracy in unapproved places, the rooting of freedom and the rule of law in the defeated Axis countries proved crucial to the success of the very post-World War II economic recovery programs he champions as the answer to terrorism today.

THOMAS P. MANGIERI

Sparta, N.J.

Arnaud de Borchgrave opines that the Bush administration is oblivious to the grinding poverty in the Middle East that is an inspirational force for Islamic extremism and terrorism. Those with nothing left to lose are the grist for extreme political movements of all stripes, he says, and Mr. Bush is blind to it. I disagree.

Mr. de Borchgrave misses the point that quite probably the only way to change this equation is to do exactly what he criticizes Mr. Bush for attempting: to democratize at least one Middle Eastern country and work to follow democracy with an Islamic “reformation” that will create new freedoms for real education and for open commerce with the West in things other than oil.

If the Bush “mission” to establish democratic government and relatively free societies in the Middle East fails, the region really will be condemned by the mullahs to wallow in grinding poverty and cultivate terrorism for all the foreseeable future.

Prosperity is largely a consequence of freedom, and freedom is a condition for prosperity in the Middle East. This, in turn, is a condition precedent for the mitigation of Islamic terrorism.

RAYMOND S. KRAFT

Loomis, Calif.

Unborn victims under state jurisdiction

The so-called “Laci and Connor’s Law” (Unborn Victims of Violence Act) sets a dangerous precedent (“Senate approves fetal-homicide bill,” Nation, Friday). Protection of life is a state, not federal, issue. The taking of life has always been prosecuted in state courts, except in those narrow circumstances under which federal law applies, as on federal property. Regardless of the emotions generated by the deaths of a pregnant woman and her unborn child, this is a state crime, and the federal government should have no standing to prosecute.

CARL BANKSTON

Victoria, Texas

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