- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 3, 2005

No deal with Iran

Did Arnaud de Borchgrave imply that the United States should offer Iran a nonaggression treaty in exchange for scrapping its nuclear program (“Perfect storm warning” Commentary, Tuesday)? This the United States cannot do. The war against terrorism cannot be won as long as states like Iran are willing to support terrorist groups. Any promise by Washington to the Tehran mullahs that no military action will be taken against them would turn Iran into a safe haven for terrorists.

In the old days, a nonaggression pact required both parties to promise not to attack the other. Today, in both Iran and North Korea, the term seems to mean only that the United States will not use force, not that the despots will halt their violent ways.

Deterring attacks on Iran in retaliation for its support of Islamic revolution is why Tehran is pursuing a nuclear capability. No set of economic incentives offered by the EU3 — England, Germany and France — can dissuade Iran. Only a nonaggression pledge by the United States would fit the mullahs’ needs. Even then, they would likely see it only as a way to buy time while they continued a clandestine nuclear program to gain a more tangible form of security.

It is because Iran is a terrorist state that it cannot be allowed nuclear weapons. Because the issue is so stark, there is no compromise for the EU3 to find. What Tehran fears is an attack. It will halt its nuclear program only if it becomes convinced that the program will provoke an attack rather than deter one.


Senior fellow

U.S. Business and Industry Council


Energy, taxes and the future

Tom Bray’s “Fossil fuel tempest” (Commentary, Monday), was an interesting mix of valuable observations and embarrassing factual errors. Mr. Bray claims we have a 2,000-year global coal supply. Yet the Energy Information Administration estimates global coal reserves at slightly more than a trillion tons, enough to last 210 years at current consumption levels. If we double coal use to offset falling oil production, that falls to a 105-year supply.

Likewise, Mr. Bray is optimistic about shale oil as a future energy source. However, oil shale has limitations ” it requires massive capital investment, is environmentally harmful to extract and has low energy yield. It would disturb about five times as much surface area as with coal for an equal amount of energy. The richest oil shale resources are already being extracted; lower-grade shale would take more energy to produce than it would yield. Mr. Bray’s claim that oil reserves are continuing to increase hasn’t been true for more than 20 years. We have been burning more oil than we discover since the early 1980s.

However, Mr. Bray’s point that increased efficiency in one sector simply frees energy to be used elsewhere has indeed been our experience. Greater efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean reduced energy use. This demonstrates that the way to achieve lower energy use isn’t through efficiency regulations. Instead, lower energy use can be achieved through the price mechanism. There are two ways for this to happen. We can wait for depletion to cause production to fall off and then send our money to the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries, which has the lion’s share of the world’s remaining oil. Or we can reduce whatever tax we like the least and raise fossil fuel taxes to make this tax shift neutral.

Another option is to use fossil fuel tax revenues to balance the budget and reduce future taxes. Such a tax shift would raise the price of energy while leaving the money in our own economy. Fossil fuel is finite, so we do need to give thought to the endgame. A tax shift that we choose to implement will be far superior to soaring prices sending our wealth overseas.



Budget cuts ‘unimpressive’

I was surprised to read in Donald Lambro’s article “Bush gladdens conservatives with budget knife” (Nation, Feb. 21) that the “hard-core budget cutters at the Cato Institute” were “impressed” with the new Bush budget.

As the resident budget hawk here at Cato, I told Mr. Lambro that though I do find it “heartening” that the White House finally has found some programs to cut, I also noted that the overall effect of the cuts is “small potatoes” and that the savings amount to a “sliver of a sliver.” How this qualifies as being impressed is a bit bewildering.

Indeed, the Bush budget does nothing to substantially scale back the scope of government. The program cuts equal 0.7 percent of a $2.6 trillion budget. Overall government spending grows by close to 4 percent. The budgets of every Cabinet-level agency are still larger than they were when President Bush took office.

From the perspective of a hard-core budget-cutter, the president’s new budget would best be described as — Dare I say it? — unimpressive.


Director of budget studies

Cato Institute


Future of large-animal vets

Thank you for the article about the disappearance of rural veterinarians who treat large farm animals (“Fewer vets down on the farm,” Culture, etc., Tuesday). When one such vet, Dr. Colleen Thorp, says few young people will put up with the hassles of large animal medicine — long hours, middle-of-the-night emergencies, and dirty and physically demanding labor — we must ask ourselves: Why?

In the past 20 years, university students entering wildlife schools and forestry schools have changed from wanting to be “foresters” and “wardens” managing animals and plants to “rangers” wanting to “save” and “protect” the environment. Universities, responding to this sort of student and to government grants for such things, have overhauled curricula accordingly.

Today’s students are the products of elementary and high school teachers and curricula that demean management and the use of natural resources and domestic animals while advocating the fallacies of no management and no use of natural resources or domestic animals through creation of central government controls.

Similarly, budding veterinarians increasingly are vegetarians interested in “saving” animals. Keeping farm and ranch animals, like hunting wild animals or harvesting trees, is to be avoided if not eliminated.

Vast unused wildernesses, like pets, are targets for increasing government controls and restrictions reflecting the will of majority voters from largely urban counties. Nouveaux vets, like their natural-resource counterparts, consider ear-cropping and tail-bobbing of certain dog breeds to be barbaric, just as they consider hunting, trapping, fishing and logging to be intolerable.

Is it any surprise that younger vets “are showing less interest in large-animal care”? Is it any surprise that the percentage of vets treating large animals nationwide is dwindling precipitously?

Look to the public tolerance for making schools animal rights propaganda centers for decades. The crippling effects of such tolerance are only now beginning to be felt as far more than rural vets are seen to be changing for the worse.



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