- The Washington Times - Friday, February 18, 2005

Containing North Korea

I do not believe that the strategy recommended by James Hackett to isolate and contain North Korea is sound (“Questions of timing … and containing,” Commentary, Monday). Isolating North Korea for the past several years has only emboldened it to build missiles and nuclear devices with impunity as it marches toward becoming a major nuclear power.

Once North Korea is able to arm its missiles with nuclear warheads, it will pose a much graver threat to America and to its neighbors.

An effective missile shield will take some time to develop and build. Even when operational, it would be imperfect, and every missile that could penetrate the shield could incinerate an American city.

Also, inspecting all suspicious North Korean shipments for nuclear and missile exports would be difficult and would not stop air exports. Time is on North Korea’s side. Consequently, if the North remains defiant, the White House should ratchet up the pressure by finding and using a credible stick to quickly bring this ominous crisis to a head.



One strategy could be to refer this crisis to the U.N. Security Council with the understanding that the use of pre-emptive military force is on the table. Or the administration could consider giving nuclear weapons to South Korea and Japan. With the crisis elevated, China would then feel more pressure to get serious and help resolve this crisis.

To speak softly and carry a big stick is still the best way to deal with rogue states.

LOU VENTICINQUE

Jamison, Pa.

The truth about Kyoto

As the United States rejected the Kyoto Protocol, it is very important to consider some of the reasons why (“Kyoto crunch,” Business, Wednesday).

In this land of freedom, scientists are able to speak their minds. Certainly, scientists can be bought, but the hallmark of oppressive regimes is the lack of intellectual freedom. The state controls scientists and what they say so that it will conform to its plan.

Independently and without remuneration, thousands of scientists in the United States have joined together to support a petition against the Kyoto treaty. (In court, a paid expert witness is always less trusted than an unpaid one.) The petition reads as follows:

“We urge the United States government to reject the global warming agreement that was written in Kyoto, Japan, in December, 1997, and any other similar proposals. The proposed limits on greenhouse gases would harm the environment, hinder the advance of science and technology, and damage the health and welfare of mankind.

“There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing, or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the Earth.”

To view the names of the more than 17,000 signers, the vast majority of whom have been verified along with their degrees, as well as the science behind their claim, visit www.oism.org/pproject/s33p357.htm.

DIRK AVERY

Ellicott City, Md.

England was first

Stuart B. Schoenburg (“The beginning of the end of slavery,” Letters, Wednesday) wrongly asserts that the first nations or states to outlaw slavery were in the United States. A nice story, but not true.

Slavery was held illegal in England in 1772 by Lord Mansfield. In a decision cribbed from Sir William Blackstone’s commentaries, Mansfield held that “the air of England is too pure to be breathed by a slave.”

This was why, a few years later, Samuel Johnson could ask, “How is it that we hear the loudest yelps for liberty among the drivers of negroes?”

F.H. BUCKLEY

Professor

George Mason University School of Law

Arlington

Strengthening Social Security

James Glassman (“Social Security hypocrisy,” Commentary, Wednesday) disingenuously mixes apples and oranges in implying a contradiction between AARP’s opposition to Social Security private accounts and its mutual-fund offerings to members.

Social Security needs to be strengthened now for our children and grandchildren, but the solution shouldn’t be worse than the problem. Private accounts that drain money out of Social Security will cut guaranteed benefits while passing the bill to future generations.

None of this is to say that AARP is philosophically opposed to private investments ” and their inherent risks ” per se. Indeed, we encourage such vehicles as an important way to build wealth for retirement.

However, private accounts should supplement, not replace, the guaranteed benefit of Social Security. Americans can be more aggressive in the investment marketplace when they are secure in the knowledge that Social Security will not allow them to grow old in poverty.

Private accounts would represent an unnecessary overhaul of Social Security as we know it. Instead of dismantling the program, we can make sensible changes that will allow us to honor our obligations to all generations.

THOMAS C. NELSON

Chief operating officer

AARP

Washington

Scapegoating Amtrak

Like much of the fly-drive crowd, columnist Ed Feulner makes Amtrak the whipping boy in order to justify President Bush’s shortsighted proposed elimination of operating subsidies (“Averting a budgetary shipwreck,” Commentary, yesterday).

Amtrak was begun under a Republican administration in 1971, inheriting from private ownership a ragtag collection of tired locomotives, worn passenger cars, outdated facilities and demoralized personnel. What it has managed to do is to slowly and ” yes ” painfully-rebuild its fleet, modernize its physical plant and reform its labor polices to become a leader in the rail industry.

Meanwhile, its reliance on federal subsidies has decreased while its revenue-to-cost ratio has topped 79 percent. In fact, Amtrak ridership grew 4.3 percent in 2004, to a record 25 million passengers carried. Additionally, Amtrak has made progress in a number of areas since 2002, including:

• The development of new accounting and financial systems.

• The elimination of 5,000 jobs.

• Development of a five-year strategic plan.

• Termination of money-losing mail and express services.

• No new borrowing and the repayment of a $100 million loan in five years.

• Maintenance of cash operations at or below $570 million.

Still, a miffed Mr. Feulner raises the specter of taxpayer subsidies. First, let’s face facts: All transportation in this country is subsidized. I for one am tired of the back-and-forth controversy regarding Amtrak funding and the whole tone of discussion on the “future of rail passenger service in this country,” while in fiscal 2006, both highways and aviation will continue to receive federal support of 10 percent to 20 percent more than Amtrak’s meager $1.6 billion request.

I believe it is time for this administration to call for a more balanced, responsible transportation policy that will encompass rail, aviation and motor interests. We can no longer afford the silly debates that have characterized our mutually exclusive transport policies since the end of World War II.

What we need to remember is that they are all useful taxpayer-supported public services.

PETER D. ELDRIDGE

Alexandria

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