- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 2, 2006

Rethink Iran

Harlan Ullman’s excellent Op-Ed (“Rethink security strategy,” Wednesday) needs further elaboration. First, it should have mentioned that the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that after three years of intensive verification and investigation of Iran, “the agency has not seen indications of diversion of nuclear materials to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.” That is why President Bush lacks the credibility on this issue as well as on Iraq. Second, Washington pursuing a diplomatic resolution is a myth. It must engage Iran in a real strategic dialogue leading to a regional alliance making all of the Middle East nuclear-free. Whether it has been through ignorance, hubris or the influence of the neoconservatives within and outside the Bush administration, its record in this regard is abysmal.

In the early years of this administration, Iran, on several occasions, tried to engage the United States in negotiations to resolve differences for better relations and it was rebuffed every time. Surely, the Bush administration knows that without Iran’s cooperation, nothing can be resolved in the region. And schoolyard threats and intimidation on both sides will resolve nothing.

The neocons and their allies’ dream of regime change is nothing but just that — a dream. Twenty-six years of enmity and separation have left both countries without knowledge and experience about each other. It is about time for the Bush administration to face the facts and engage Iran in a dialogue that will benefit both countries and the region.



Illegal immigration and economic reality

Paul Greenberg (“Assimilation fog … and forecast,” Commentary, Saturday) has a point, but most of the commentators on this subject make an assumption that may not be true: that the illegal aliens are ultimately interested in becoming citizens.

In reality, the economics behind illegal immigration is much the same as that for slavery. It isn’t true that the illegals will do jobs that Americans will not do. It is true that they will do so for much less pay than Americans will demand. Employers rely on the fact that they do not have to pay minimum wages, FICA or retirement benefits for illegal workers, and that they can lay them off whenever convenient with no regard for legal requirements. So, if the illegal workers become U.S. citizens, they promptly become unemployable because their cost to employers immediately goes up, with no resultant increase in productivity.

Decades ago, the then-Immigration and Naturalization Service successfully ran sting operationsonNebraska meatpackers and Carolina farmers, finding and deporting hundreds if not thousands of illegal workers. The employers made such a stink that the INS eventually gave up searching for and removing illegal workers.

If Congress will not stand up to employers and do what is right instead of what is expedient, then all of the fences and amnesty plans will do no good whatsoever. No new laws are required, nor will it be necessary to actually deport 12 million illegal workers. Congress only needs to allow Immigration and Customs Enforcement to enforce existing laws and remove the economic incentives that cause them to flock here in the first place; to allow sting and record-subpoena operations; to punish industries that hire illegal workers; to swiftly imprison and deport those illegals who are caught and to drop the minimum wage so that American workers are more competitive for low-level jobs.



Don’t forget John Locke

Brian Tubbs, in his reminder about a little-known Founding Father (“George Mason’s moment,” Commentary, Saturday), says “Jefferson borrowed liberally from George Mason’s Virginia Declaration of Rights when crafting the Declaration of Independence.”

Let’s not go overboard, here. The two documents may sound alike — Jefferson’s phrase “… that all men are created equal …” — echoed Mason’s from a month before: “That all men are by nature equally free and independent …” But, the similarities aside, I don’t think it has ever been shown that Jefferson actually borrowed from Mason as his source for the Declaration of Independence.

Far more likely, both men used the same source: John Locke, an English philosopher from a century earlier, whose works were on every educated man’s bookshelf back then.

Interestingly, where our Founding Fathers were concerned with rights, Locke had focused instead on freedom, on the legitimacy of governments and on the rule of law. In his Second Treatise of Civil Government, he says: “Man being born, as has been proved, with a title to perfect freedom, … equally with any other man, or number of men in the world, hath by nature a power, not only to preserve his property, that is, his life, liberty and estate.”

The key here was individual power, flowing naturally from God-given freedom. Today we would construe that as “rights,” a hot-button word that may or may not mean the same thing.

And then there’s equality. In the Second Treatise, Locke says, “Men being, as has been said, by nature, all free, equal and independent, no one can be put out of his estate and subjected to the political power of another, without his own consent.”

If we re-read Jefferson and Mason in light of these passages, we can see what they meant by equality. They had grown up as English subjects, until abuses by the crown demoted them to second-class citizenship. Jefferson wrote King George saying: Fine. If your majesty can’t understand equality and won’t honor it where your Colonial subjects are concerned, we have an alternative. We declare ourselves no longer your subjects, but Americans.

It was all about words, and how people felt about words, just as it is today. The authors of those words, our Founding Fathers, were heirs to a great philosophical tradition. They would be the first to remind us that John Locke was that tradition’s brightest beacon.



MSM and Vietnam

In his column titled “Wake-up call?” (Commentary, Saturday), Ariel Cohen spoiled an otherwise excellent piece by asserting that Vietnamese Gen. Vo Nguyen Giap was the “architect of victory over the U.S. in Vietnam.” On behalf of myself and my fellow Vietnam vets I cannot let this careless and erroneous assertion pass. I wish to inform Mr. Cohen and anyone else harboring similar wrongheaded views that the U.S. forces never lost a single battle in Vietnam. We continually gave much better than we got.

The “loss” of Vietnam was not the fault of our fighting men or of superior generalship by the enemy. Rather it was brought about by the lack of will of our Congress and the cowardliness of the noisy, privileged few in our universities.

Walter Cronkite and the rest of the mainstream media were wrong about the Tet offensive and most everything else that followed. In Tet, Mr. Cohen’s purported mastermind, Gen. Giap, lost the cream of his army to our soldiers and Marines. While the tide of public opinion turned against those of us who soldiered on, don’t believe for a moment that America “lost” the war. America simply quit the field. And a scant few years later, President Jimmy Carter granted amnesty to those who ran away rather than wear our nation’s uniform.

Those who threw in the towel and those who ran bear any shame associated with that star-crossed chapter of the protracted Cold War — a war in which America ultimately prevailed. Mr. Cohen is wrong to award credit where none is due.


Colonel, USAF (Ret.)


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