- The Washington Times - Saturday, February 5, 2005

‘Blatant distortions’

Your article “Naysayers tight-lipped since success of Iraq vote,” (Page 1, Thursday) has an obvious subtext — that those of us who are critics of President Bush’s invasion and occupation of Iraq should shut up because of the Iraqi elections.

By the same logic, critics of the Vietnam War should have stopped their protests after the September 1967 South Vietnamese election took place despite threats of Viet Cong attacks on polling places. The reported 83 percent turnout in that election was even higher than the interim Iraqi regime’s estimate of 60 percent voter participation — a number, incidentally, that The Washington Times is embracing as uncritically as the paper once accepted the Bush administration’s assertions about Saddam Hussein’s supposed arsenal of weapons of mass destruction.

Voter turnout in the Iraqi election doesn’t confer legitimacy on the war, just as turnout in South Vietnam didn’t justify President Lyndon Johnson’s escalation of the war in Vietnam — after all, in neither instance did the ballot ask voters their opinion on whether their country should have been bombed and occupied by a foreign army.

Presidents Johnson and Bush both relied on blatant distortions and lies to rally Americans to their wars. That was wrong in the mid-1960s, and it is equally wrong now. The Vietnamese election in 1967 didn’t erase all of Johnson’s miscalculations and inept wartime leadership, nor did it bring back to life all the American and Vietnamese lives lost because of those mistakes.

The Iraqi election won’t wipe the slate clean in those regards for Mr. Bush, either — he still deserves blame for his failure to plan adequately for the aftermath of Saddam’s overthrow, as well as for the shameful abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib and the scorched-earth destruction of Fallujah.

An election with impressive voter turnout didn’t stop Mr. Johnson’s Vietnam policy from disastrous failure. Sadly, our self-confident president seems to have learned nothing from Johnson’s example, and thus still runs the risk of repeating it.

PATRICK J. KIGER

Takoma Park

EU, U.S., China and trade

William Hawkins, in his excellent Commentary column on the European Union’s plans to lift its arms embargo on China (“Helping Europe arm China?” Thursday), clearly delineates how the continued security of Asia and U.S. strategic interests are being compromised by the EU’s quest for profits.

By lifting the embargo, the European Union would not only define itself as merely a trading association that seeks profit at every opportunity without regard to human cost, but also implicitly pardon China’s leadership for its atrocious murders during the 1989 Tiananmen massacre.

The ban, originally imposed to show the EU’s condemnation of the Tiananmen massacre in 1989, must remain today as a check on China’s ambitions in Asia and an unambiguous reminder that tyrannical oppression of democracy will not be tolerated or condoned.

This past week, the House overwhelmingly voted in favor of a resolution titled “Urging the European Union to maintain its arms embargo on the People’s Republic of China.”

A good first step. But, as Mr. Hawkins writes, “talk is not enough.” The United States needs to put into law that foreign persons, EU companies and shipping carriers that sell to China will not get off scot-free. Why? Because the EU’s removing of the embargo would have strategic ramifications for decades for all of China’s peace-loving neighbors, especially Taiwan.

China already has 500 to 600 missiles aimed at Taiwan, and the lifting of the ban would only facilitate Chinese efforts to prepare for military action against Taiwan.

Moreover, one day, these European arms may be used against U.S. armed forces, should conflict break out in the region.

The United States must therefore be resolute in its actions and unwavering in its disapproval of the EU’s perilous course of action. Only then will it provide for the security for all living under China’s ominous shadow in East Asia today, as well as for the security of the United States.

MING-CHI WU

President, Formosan Association for Public Affairs

Washington

Musing on the State of the Union address

I find it amusing (and a bit sad) that during the State of the Union address, when President Bush hit upon the notion that the citizens of America should own their Social Security accounts outside the reach of Congress, Republicans stood in applause, while Democrats appeared to sit with their arms crossed, as if the money being withheld were theirs, and not the citizens’, to spend. (“Bush hints Social Security cuts,” Page 1, Thursday). In all references to items like Social Security and income taxes, the Democrats seemed to be unwilling to trust Americans with their own hard-earned dollars. I wonder why Democrats seem to think spending our money against our will, and not returning it when it clearly is being wasted and not providing us the services that we contracted to the federal government, is somehow noble and right.

NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie

The jeers during President Bush’s State of the Union address are an example of why the Democrats apparently are having so much trouble these days winning elections and getting their message through (“Bush hints Social Security cuts,” Page 1, Thursday).

If the Democrats don’t like Mr. Bush’s policies, all they have to do is vote against them. It seems the Democrats still have not learned from the Paul Wellstone memorial disaster in 2002, when they decided that instead of mourning the death of their own fallen comrade, they use the memorial service to wave their fists in the air and shout anti-Republican slogans in order to win the upcoming congressional election. That decision cost them many seats in both houses that year.

The Democrats need to ask themselves how in the world they can make the public take their message seriously if they continually make fools of themselves at public events knowing the entire world is watching.

JOSEPH F. MATTAINO

Winchester, Va.

The State of theUnion Address by the president tonight did not set out any newplan, but it did provide the usual rhetoric. It was such a heartfelt speech for Americans who are heterosexual and practicing Christians, because if you’re not in that category, then you’re just a “lost soul.” I found his speech to just reiterate his discriminatory, idealist, heterosexist, proletariat ideal of a world.

Theologian Gerard Philips said “never substitute individual judgment [Americans or people thinking for themselves] for the collective wisdom of the whole church [the Republican Party today], as voiced by the hierarchy” [George Bush].

So, it seems anyone who has the courage to question, to think differently, is then his enemy and an enemy to his administration. He could just re-instate the “anti-modernist oath” and make it pivotal for designation as an American citizen. This way there would be no expectation or desire for a real democracy and true freedom for all Americans.

MARTIN TREVINO

San Antonio

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