- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 23, 2005

In defense of the Iraq war

Georgie Anne Geyer (“Push and scramble,” Commentary, Saturday) again takes issue with whether we should have liberated Iraq, but now she has combined poor policy analysis with reference to the supposed declining mental health of her critics, going so far as to claim America has engaged in “optional” wars in Central America in the past and Iraq in the present. Let’s set the record straight.

(1) The U.S. support for the government of El Salvador and our efforts to constrain the Sandinista government in Nicaragua as it funded and coordinated attacks on the former were necessary for the protection of freedom. The communist terror in El Salvador was defeated, and a pro-democracy government finally was elected in Nicaragua.

(2) Ambassador Joseph Wilson’s trip to Niger did not undercut the British claim that Iraq had sought processed uranium from that country but did just the opposite. He confirmed that Iraq had indeed made such efforts. Both the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence and the September 11 Commission so concluded.

(3) The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) no more had Iraq’s weapons fully under control than it did the nuclear weapons programs in Iran and North Korea, to say nothing of its obliviousness to the advanced stage of the nuclear weapons programs in Libya, which the Bush administration ended. FrontPage Magazine just published an interview with previous military intelligence officer and U.N. inspection specialist Bill Tierney, who discloses the ineptitude of IAEA and the ongoing Iraqi efforts to hide their programs and allow inspections only in areas previously reviewed or after Iraqi sanitation efforts. He concludes that Iraq hid what weapons it had and then transferred much of the remaining stockpile out of the country.



(4) Furthermore, just this past week, material from the Iraqi government while under Saddam Hussein’s rule, the “Harmony” documents, reveal that as late as 2000 and 2001, efforts were still under way to purchase and produce chemical and biological weapons.

(5) In addition, Richard Minter’s new book, “Disinformation,” reveals details of the chemical and biological weapons we in fact did find in Iraq after its liberation, including powdered nuclear material, chemical weapon shells and anthrax.

(6) Next, Miss Geyer forgets that in the post-1998 bombing, the Clinton administration repeatedly warned that Saddam was reconstituting his nuclear weapons programs and was busy with his chemical and biological weapons programs. Right through the end of the Clinton administration, the warnings about the threat posed by Iraq were widespread. The intelligence evidence upon which these statements were based was fully vetted by Congress, leading to the passage of the 1998 Iraq Liberation Act, which called for exactly what the Bush administration has accomplished — regime change — but that the Clinton administration was unwilling to do. None of the evidence then or later was manipulated to reach these conclusions according to all official examinations of the issue.

(7) Miss Geyer might want to read the resolution Congress passed authorizing the war to liberate Iraq. There are 23 clauses that lay out the justification for the use of military force. Every one of them was based on facts known at the time. One — whether Saddam still had significant quantities of weapons of mass destruction — remains under debate, although evidence of such programs has been discovered.

(8) Finally, the “Harmony” documents mentioned above also reinforce the evidence of a cooperative relationship between the former Iraqi government and terror organizations, including al Qaeda. This further underscores the dilemma faced by the United States in 2002. The sanctions against Iraq were disappearing. The inspections were not being allowed to be fully implemented. And the previous administration repeatedly had declared that Saddam was a threat, especially with respect to the most deadly weapons known to man. Why would giving Saddam the benefit of the doubt be consistent with protecting U.S. national security?

PETER HUESSY

President

GeoStrategic Analysis

Potomac

The ‘boat test

In his Sunday Commentary column, “Begin with the boat test,” Lawrence Kudlow pointed out that the sale of boats costing $80,000 to $300,000 is booming. He called this prosperity.

I call it extortion. According to the Economic Policy Institute, only the richest 5 percent of households experienced average real income gains in 2004. Income for everyone else stagnated or declined. The Economic Policy Institute has similar numbers for the years 2001 to 2003.

Two important economic facts about the economy during the Bush administration are high economic growth and dismal job creation. Thus, the economic growth went into profits rather than pay raises. In addition, the president has shifted the tax load from capital to labor.

President Bush’s unnecessary, unprovoked and un-winnable war in Iraq is only one of the reasons for his declining poll numbers. Another reason is an economy that benefits the rich at the expense of everyone else.

JOHN ENGELMAN

Wilmington, Del.

Freedom of expression in Tunisia

The Nov. 18 editorial (“A free Internet”) unfortunately presents an unbalanced and even unfair assessment of freedom of expression’s reality in Tunisia.

Your readers deserve to know that the Tunisian authorities have implemented various measures to secure the acquisition of computers at an affordable price and ensure the universal access to the Internet through the constant reduction of connection rates. As a result, the number of Internet users has reached one million (one tenth of the population) and is expected to attain 3 million in 2006. In addition, the growing number of Internet service centers (310 at the end of 2004) and Internet Service Providers (12 ISPs, five of which are privately owned) underscore the Tunisian government’s commitment to the information society and free access to the Internet.

Moreover, several reforms have been introduced to promote the information sector in Tunisia. Among the indications of the openness and diversification of the media landscape, it is worth noting that the broadcast media has been opened up to the private initiative. This decision, which put an end to the government’s monopoly over this sector, has already given birth to the first private satellite TV station and two private radio stations. In addition to the organizations and unions, the opposition political parties put their own publications in which they freely address all issues and express views that are critical to the government’s policies.

Contrary to what the editorial claims, these achievements demonstrate undoubtedly the Tunisian government’s commitment to freedom of expression. Indeed, these achievements are a part and parcel of a comprehensive, progressive but irreversible political process that is grounded in Tunisia’s conviction and own initiative and aimed at anchoring a pluralistic democracy respecting the human rights and individual and public liberties.

As in other democracies, limitations to the freedom of expression in Tunisia are exclusively related to the propagation, including through the Internet, of information inciting hatred, violence, terrorism, extremism as well as to the disregard of moral standards.

In this regard, it should be underlined that the editorial does not unfortunately present all the facts about the Tunisian lawyer to which it refers. In fact, he has been sentenced for severe violence (that led to 10 percent permanent incapacity to one of his colleagues), defamation of the judiciary and propagation of false information that is likely to disrupt public order.

The accomplishments of Tunisia and its firm determination to further promote human rights, in general, and freedom of expression, in particular, demonstrate clearly that the description of the Tunisian government as “repressive” is abusive.

TAOUFIK CHEBBI

Press Counselor

Embassy of Tunisia

Washington

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