- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 9, 2005

An American, not Afghan, drug problem

In response to your thoughtful editorial, “Afghanistan’s drug problem” (Wednesday), I submit that Afghanistan doesn’t have a drug problem. The United States has the drug problem. Our drug problems are not caused by drugs but rather by our counterproductive policies that make easy-to-grow weeds and wild flowers more valuable than pure gold.

Any efforts to reduce the supply of opium in Afghanistan or any other country will have the effect of increasing the value of opium. Thus, the profitability of opium-growing will increase. No product can be eliminated by making it more profitable.

We cannot even keep illegal drugs out of our highest-security jails and prisons. So, how can we reasonably expect to keep drugs out of a country with thousands of miles of international borders?

The simple answer is that we cannot. As long as people want recreational drugs, and they are willing to pay for the drugs, somebody will produce the drugs and somebody else will get the drugs to the willing buyers. This much is guaranteed.

KIRK MUSE

Mesa, Ariz.

Geneva Convention cuts both ways

Sen. John Cornyn should be careful in excusing prisoner mistreatment based on a too literal reading of Article 4 of the Geneva Conventions, which states that those captured must meet certain conditions to be protected as POWs (“In defense of Judge Gonzales,” Op-Ed, Tuesday). The conditions Article 4 specifies include “being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates”; “having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance;” “carrying arms openly”; and “conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war.”

I would remind him that every day the United States dispatches fighters to the battlefield who do not explicitly meet those criteria. In our case, we call them Special Forces.

If members of our Special Forces were captured by our enemies in Iraq or Afghanistan, would the senator want their interrogators to interpret international law as conveniently as we have?

ROBERT J. INLOW

Charlottesville

Business, unions and property rights

I agree with Nancie G. Marzulla that the government has no right to nationalize an industry and put companies out of business without just compensation, as was done with airport security (“Protecting property rights,” Op-Ed, Friday).

But why should all taxpayers suffer for the actions of the relatively few? If memory serves, wasn’t the entire Homeland Security Act held hostage by the labor unions pulling the puppet strings of former Missouri Rep. Richard A. Gephardt and other Democrat legislators? Wasn’t it former Sen. Tom Daschle, South Dakota Democrat, who voiced “concern” that poor, overworked government employees might have to perform some added work or get shorted an hour of overtime as bombs are going off in our cities?

Recently, it was asserted that up to 90 percent of union political contributions are spent defeating Republican candidates, many of whom most rank-and-file union members (and most Americans, obviously) support and vote for.

It is the unions that coveted and actually now profit from the airport-screening industry. The unions are taking dues from the employees, right? The unions are making all the money in this deal. They should pay these businessmen for the businesses they took from them through legislative fiat.

BOBBY FLORENTZ

La Habra, Calif.

Promises, promises

Promises made — promises kept. This a statement not usually made with regard to Congress, but maybe this will be the year of immigration reform.

The article “Tougher laws eyed for alien workers” (Page 1, Thursday) outlines several new bills introduced in the House to curb illegal immigration that were promised at the end of the last session when immigration-reform legislation was deleted from the intelligence bill.

Let’s hope the legislators pass these measures as soon as possible and put some teeth in the “war” on illegal immigration. Up to now, it has hardly been a skirmish, with up to 4,000 illegals crossing the border daily, according to Time magazine.

At the rate they are pouring into the country, it’s plausible that we could reach the Census Bureau’s high-side national population projections of 500 million by 2050 and a billion people by 2100. This is equivalent to the current population of India.

Can you imagine what the quality of life will be for future generations, with nearly four times the current population? It’s hard to believe what kind of life will exist when New York becomes New Delhi, San Francisco looks like Bombay and Los Angeles is our version of the Black Hole of Calcutta.

BYRON SLATER

San Diego

One rising China, two regions’ fears

The editorial “China in America’s neighborhood” (Thursday) notes a parallel in China’s growing ties with Latin America that should shed some light for the United States and its neighbors.

In 2002, China and the members of the Association of SoutheastAsianNations agreed to establish a full free-trade agreement by 2010? 15, while allowing the poorer ASEAN members “early harvest” in China’s domestic market.

China’s trade activism is driven by the need to secure access to crucial raw materials and markets for its booming economy under the new diplomacy of “peaceful rise.”

But ASEAN nations fear that the agreement with China could threaten their own labor-intensive industries; undermine intra-ASEAN integration; and hamper trade deals with larger trading partners, such as the United States and Japan.

Southeast Asian nations are increasingly drawn more toward China than to the United States. Is it possible the same thing could happen in the Western Hemisphere?

VINCENT WEI-CHENG WANG

Richmond

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