- The Washington Times - Saturday, September 24, 2005

Finite oil, guzzling fleets

In “Pressures at the pump” (Commentary, Wednesday), James K. Glassman points out that the windfall-profits tax reduced domestic oil production and increase imports. What he fails to note is that if we had produced that oil back in the 1980s, we wouldn’t have it today. Depressing output makes sense in a county that has only 2 percent of world oil reserves but demands 25 percent of world oil production. Pumping our oil faster hastens the day when we will be completely dependent on the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.

Mr. Glassman says we need to increase supply. But since oil is finite, more now means less later. It means a higher peak of world oil production followed by a faster decline. It isn’t in our best interest to seek cheap gas for our national fleet of gas guzzlers.



Independence Air defended

I can empathize with Monte Lutz’s difficult trip as he expressed it in his letter (“Bankrupt airlines,” Letters, Monday). However, all but wishing for an airline to go bankrupt is a little extreme.

I, for one, am pulling for Independence Air to continue its service. It has always provided me with great service at low cost. I find it great for the short two-hour-and-less flights that are their mainstay. The people are friendly, the planes are clean and smooth-flying and the prices are great. And they give the big guys, most of whom are bankrupt, or recently emerged from bankruptcy, a much-needed run for a traveler’s money. It’s a shame, in my opinion, if they do go under, which recent news reports suggest is likely.

Simple inconvenience or a canceled trip pale in comparison to the very real people, with very real families, who will lose very real jobs if Independence ceases operations.

I understand the need to vent after such a situation as Mr. Lutz encountered, but if there is a real complaint related to Independence, it should be leveled at that embarrassment of an airport from which they are forced to fly.



Debt-for-development proposals

David R. Sands (“Swap debt for equity, official urges lenders,” World, Thursday) highlights benefits of the Philippines’ proposal to extinguish part of the debt of middle-income countries in exchange for equity in infrastructure, land or social programs.

Debt swaps for development originated in the 1980s, especially for environmental and public-health programs, when at the height of the Latin American debt crisis, private external foreign-currency debt was convertible to local currency cash by going through the central bank and finance ministry of the country concerned.

This cash was invested in local health, education and environmental programs. Ten percent of government-to-government debt, too, was available under an arrangement of the major creditors such as Canada.

The amounts in question were small enough as a percentage of the economy to not be regarded as inflationary threats. However, there never was support from multilateral lenders such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for debt-for-development swaps, especially because little multilateral borrowing or lending occurred in anything but foreign/hard currencies in that era. With changing times and new leadership, there is a possibility that these innovative schemes will receive greater support and encouragement.



Iran, China and the United States

Your article (“EU powers delay sanctioning Iran, offer weaker draft,” Page 1, Friday) focuses on a very important topical development internationally. You report that opposition from Russia and China, both with veto powers in the U.N. Security Council, as well as many developing countries, including India, meant that Iran’s nuclear problem could not be referred to the Security Council immediately.

We in the West, especially the United States and United Kingdom, have undermined Russia by supporting orange, pink or whatever color “revolutions” in the former Soviet Republics. So, it is natural for Russia to move against Western interests in the Iranian situation, especially because Russia is developing civilian nuclear power plants in Iran.

China has vast energy import needs and, therefore, vested interests in supporting oil- and gas-rich Iran.

The United States needs to focus on the monumental changes in the global geopolitics with rise of China, potentially leading to the dilution of U.S. power, especially in the Asia-Pacific region. China has also dismissed U.S. concern regarding the development and use of power by the Communist giant, stating that it is not interested in becoming a democracy.

China wants a multipolar world, but unipolar Asia with an upper hand both on Japan and India. I think China will become a world power in near future.

What the United States needs to do is to ensure that China is not the only world power in Asia by fully supporting strategic ties with economically fast-growing India, the world’s largest democracy.

Both the United States and India are sovereign, independent countries, and they have their own interests to consider; hence, it is unlikely that they would always agree with each other. So long as both agree to cooperate in broader interests of free, democratic societies, some subsidiary conflicting interests need to be overlooked by both parties.

India has, as does the United States, to look after both its physical and energy needs. The civilian nuclear deal between the United States and India should go ahead, so long as both the parties honor terms of that agreement.

No additional conditions should be attached to it by either party. The sooner the United States sells (India does not expect any “gifts”) India civilian nuclear technologies and plants, the less dependent India will become on energy from Iran and the Middle East.

Less reliance on oil and gas from Iran, Saudi Arabia and other OPEC countries would mean more economic growth for the United States, India, Japan and other importing countries, plus more “freedom” of action in the interest of democratic societies.



Let the filibusters roll

While I agree with the suggestion in your Thursday Editorial, “A legacy moment for Bush,” that the nomination of a strident conservative would be a legacy moment for President Bush, I disagree with the idea that the constitutional option should be invoked to ensure the nominee is confirmed.

A true conservative should be nominated not only to balance the Ruth Bader Ginsburg appointment, but specifically because it will force the liberal wing that currently drives the Democratic Party to invoke the filibuster.

Sens. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Charles E. Schumer, Edward M. Kennedy, Dianne Feinstein and Richard J. Durbin have already ruined their credibility by voting against the eminently qualified and moderate John G. Roberts Jr. nomination, so they will not be credible leaders of a filibuster against a so-called radical conservative.

The remaining leaders will not be able to sustain for long the public rebuke that will come with continuous floor debate that stalls the work of the Senate, especially if the Republicans are smart enough to schedule a vote on Hurricanes Katrina or Rita relief bills to follow immediately afterward. Once the filibuster is invoked, Republicans can begin to carve moderate Democrats off what to this point has been a fairly solid block, hopefully splitting the party so that the rest of the conservative agenda can be moved along.

The current tragedies have reminded voters that Congress does have an important role to play and that obstruction does not serve that role. A filibuster would once and for all cement the Democrats as obstructionists. Republicans should not defeat a filibuster procedurally. They should welcome it, allow it to run its course and reap the rewards.


Ashburn, Va.

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