- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 16, 2005

False claims of PSI success

In their Aug. 12 Op-Ed column, “Safeguarding nuclear arsenals,” Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Cypriot Foreign Minister George Iacovou make a false claim of success for the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI).

Top Bush administration officials for more than a year attributed the October 2003 interdiction of the BBC China, a ship carrying nuclear contraband to Libya, to PSI. The facts do not bear this out.

John Wolf, the assistant secretary of state for nonproliferation at the time of the interdiction, told the monthly journal Arms Control Today in May that the BBC China interdiction was not a PSI operation but instead resulted from “separate” earlier efforts to uncover the nuclear black-market network run by Pakistani weapons scientist A.Q. Khan. Two foreign government officials familiar with the incident corroborated Mr. Wolf’s statement. One noted, “The BBC China operation was carried out in the spirit of PSI, but it was not a PSI operation.”

Moreover, at a two-year anniversary celebration for PSI on May 31, Miss Rice herself stopped short of saying the initiative was responsible for the interdiction. Explaining why Miss Rice did not go so far as to hail the BBC China interdiction as a PSI success (as she had done on previous occasions), State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, “There were other efforts being pursued in the case of Libya and A.Q. Khan that contributed to successfully… finding out and stopping this shipment. So in that case, we did not want to say it was solely a matter of the Proliferation Security Initiative because [it] was, if I remember, at an early stage back then.”

PSI is a useful initiative, but the Bush administration should stop propagating this misleading claim of its success. Rather than exaggerating PSI’s accomplishments and embellishing its own nonproliferation credentials, the administration should let the record speak for itself.


Research director

Arms Control Association

Arms Control Today magazine


Republicans and border control

Finally, someone is sending the message to the Republicans, and President Bush in particular, as articulated in the editorial “Border-control Democrats and President Bush” (Editorial, Tuesday). The 2006 elections — and possibly the 2008 presidential election — could be single-issue events.

The Republicans are completely out of touch with the public when it comes to national security and our borders. Republicans fail to realize that the public is tired of dealing on a daily basis with people who cannot understand English, with gangs such as MS-13 that commit terrible crimes and are spreading across the country, with the failure of law enforcement to deport illegal aliens because the federal government refuses to take action — and the list goes on.

Republicans are so fixated on getting the Hispanic vote that they are ignoring this problem, even to the point of trying to vilify those people who have tried to do something about it.

The worst-case scenario for the Republicans would be for a terrorist event to happen and for it to be determined that the people involved came across our borders illegally.

In my opinion, the Republicans would be swept from office in the House, the Senate and the presidency. It would take a long time for them to recover.



‘Faulty solutions’ for Bosnia and Kosovo

Most of Doug Bandow’s excellent column Monday (“Closing the books on Kosovo,” Commentary) would be in agreement with what I have to say.

It is, indeed, appropriate that the passing of such a notable as ABC’s Peter Jennings be acknowledged with all due memorial. Some of the stories about his achievements were coupled with references to NBC’s Tom Brokow and CBS’ Dan Rather.

Quite apart from their achievements, I am reminded that none of the three examined critically the assumptions on which President Clinton’s Balkan policies were based. They were not alone, however, because the major newspapers were no better. “NewsHour With Jim Lehrer,” as well as National Public Radio, failed equally.

The net result was that the Clinton administration imposed grossly faulty “solutions” in Bosnia and Kosovo. When Mr. Clinton defended his sending troops into Bosnia, he said they would be there “about a year.” Nearly 10 years later, they are still there.

The Dayton solution created a two-unit Bosnia, the Serb Republic and the Muslim-Croat Federation, with a weak central government. However, the Contact Group’s high representative, whose job presumably was to see to it that the Dayton Accords be observed, has acted as a “colonial governor,” dismissing elected officials, mostly in the Serb Republic.

His aim, especially in the case of the latest holder of that office — Paddy Ashdown — has been to take powers away from the two units and to strengthen the central government.

In the meantime, Osama bin Laden loyalists are roaming freely, mainly in the Muslim-Croat Federation.

In Kosovo, where Mr. Clinton vowed to create a multiethnic society, the Albanians killed a large number of Serbs and drove many more out of Kosovo, along with other minorities. The presence of NATO and the United Nations has not impeded the Albanians’ determination to have an ethnically pure Kosovo.

Such are the results of wrongheaded policies, to which the press failed to alert us.


Professor emeritus

Vanderbilt University


A challenge to the Pledge law

Brian Tubbs misses the point of my opposition to the Virginia Pledge law (“A victory for freedom of religion,” Letters, Saturday, in response to “Virginia’s Pledge law sustained,” Page 1, Thursday). I oppose my children’s participation even as spectators in a daily Pledge of Allegiance ritual because teachers require all children to reverently acknowledge religion in a way that I consider profane and idolatrous. Occasionally teachers even insist that my children stand and publicly pledge allegiance to views offensive to my religion.

My ability to teach my children the true character and nature of God is compromised when the government mixes patriotic and religious messages in lessons on civic morality.

Of course, Mr. Tubbs is right that history has plenty of examples of politicians expressing their religious beliefs in the public square. However, George Washington did not force children, under threat of being slandered as unpatriotic and ungodly, to pledge allegiance to his personal religious beliefs.

I think the Pledge is inappropriate in public school because:

• Young children think the Pledge is a prayer — or, worse, that nationalism itself is God.

• The Pledge is a patriotic creed that endorses Puritan covenant theology as the unifying framework for civic morality that is anathema to my Anabaptist Mennonite religion, which has a 300-year American history of rejecting homage to a God and country worldview.

• Using God’s name as a gloss to burnish patriotic ideas into a sworn oath is blasphemy to those who take seriously the commandment not to take God’s name in vain.

One of the most important aspects of our heritage is that one’s religious views do not affect one’s standing in civic life. A patriotic ritual that excludes people because of their religion fails the “liberty and justice for all” test and should be discarded.



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