- The Washington Times - Friday, March 10, 2006

Indonesia’s unaccountable military

I find it odd that Ambassador Dennis Richardson, a self-proclaimed member of Australia’s “Indonesia lobby,” would seemingly take such a rosy view of the democratic transition now under way in Indonesia (“Embassy Row,” Thursday). If the pro-Jakarta lobby had had its way, democracy in Indonesia would still be a distant dream, rather than a work in progress.

The lobby viewed Gen. Suharto and his military as the bulwarks of a stable and prosperous Indonesia. No alternatives were considered. The Indonesian people, in overthrowing the dictator, fortunately disregarded that view.

But I guess old habits die hard, because the Australian government has again fallen back on its old habit of backing the Indonesian government, and especially its military, no matter what. Australia and the Bush administration have lately embraced the Indonesian military, offering training and material. But anyone without blinders can see that the greatest obstacle to a stable, prosperous and democratic Indonesia remains the Indonesian military, which remains largely unaccountable for its corruption and human-rights violations in East Timor and elsewhere and operates largely beyond civilian control.

JOHN M. MILLER

National coordinator

East Timor and Indonesia

Action Network

Brooklyn

A test for collegiate convictions

The recent decision about military recruiting shows that the Roberts court may be the court we hoped for when President Bush appointed two conservatives that we can trust not to make the law from their lifetime appointments on the bench (“Military ban on campus rejected,” Page 1, Tuesday). The irony that law schools, the institutions that are teaching the next generation of lawyers, can’t properly interpret the First Amendment of the Constitution. Hopefully the reasoning and logic of this decision and future ones coming from Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. will be incorporated into the curriculum and taught at these schools.

At last the United States is moving away from the blind dislike of the military that was so widespread during the Vietnam War, especially on college campuses around the country. It’s high time that those colleges be brought back in touch with America, and certainly bringing the military back on campus is a good start. Letting the radical professors that were given tenure in the ‘60s retire would be a good second step.

It will be interesting to see if any colleges maintain their ban on the military recruiters and lose the government funding. I wonder how strong the colleges’ convictions are, or if a price tag can be put on them.

JASON CUNNINGHAM

New York

Hats off to Don Dwyer

Concerning Maryland Delegate Don Dwyer Jr.’s attempt to pass legislation to remove from office Baltimore Circuit Judge M. Brooke Murdock, the real issue is lost in the homosexual “marriage” controversy (“Delegate calls for removal of judge,” Metropolitan, Wednesday). The most important issue at hand is the basic fundamental system of government upon which our country and state were founded. Our forefathers had the insight to provide within the Constitution checks and balances for each branch of government.

If a member of Congress takes a bribe from a lobbyist, it’s front-page news, and the member is held accountable. The same goes for any elected official — the people and the media are quick to make known any wrongdoing. The judicial branch seems to be able to do as it sees fit. If an activist judge decides to legislate from the bench, he or she should be held accountable. Judge Murdock has overstepped her constitutional powers by issuing a judgment to overturn Maryland constitutional law.

The legislature is the only power to hold the judicial branch accountable. The majority of Marylanders realize this and want the courts held within their constitutional powers. It’s unfortunate that some elected officials have lost sight of this. Hats off to Mr. Dwyer, who finds the courage even under scrutiny to do his sworn duty on the House floor.

BRYAN BAUCOM

Severn, Md.

Lawmakers and the Dubai deal

Sen. Charles E. Schumer, after the Dubai-owned company backed off its bid to operate terminals in U.S. ports, raced to gloat before cameras, after he had previously opined that “the devil is in the details” (“Dubai bails out of bid for terminals,” Page 1, Friday). Beside his concern about the details, Mr. Schumer, a New York Democrat, should also realize that with his “success,” Pandora’s box has been opened. It would be ironic were Vice President Dick Cheney’s former firm, Halliburton Co., to get this contract, as well as interesting when the United Arab Emirates decides that their next lucrative contract will go to Airbus rather than Boeing.

After observing how an Arab country was bashed, even after its vital support of the U.S. military, there may well be a snowball effect — with other nations that are now investing in America “outsourcing” their money elsewhere.

WILLIAM H. SMITH

Palm Desert, Calif.

I would like to suggest something else our great senators and congressmen can tack on to very important appropriation bills. Please add monies to cover bumper seats or high chairs for all members of Congress. The last couple of weeks have shown just how immature and childish our Congress can be.

Democrats who have worked for six years to stifle President Bush’s war on terror now act like they are concerned about national security. They are a day late and a dollar short, not to mention the fact that they really do not care about national security. They care about politics and power.

Republicans who have thumbed their noses at Mr. Bush and the United Arab Emirates are out for themselves. Instead of waiting 45 days to review the deal rationally, they acted irrationally like little children and rushed to kill the deal by using a very important appropriations bill.

President Bush can stand tall on this deal, and I support him.

DEBBIE GAMBLIN

Brandon, Miss.

Terrorists, not insurgents

I applaud Clifford D. May for his “Perils of asymmetrical war” (Commentary, Friday) and his timely and much-needed call to action.

The mainstream press here and abroad are patently guilty of legitimizing the tactics of terrorists by their lack of outrage over slaughtered civilians. How is it they are not moved to condemn the indiscriminate killing of children and, in contrast, incessantly scream their outrage over a U.S. soldier force-feeding an adult Muslim prisoner?

Their non-answer is often the “higher standard” applied to U.S. actions. The targets of U.S. warfare are enemy combatants. Civilians are out of bounds. This standard of conduct is not just a higher standard for the United States, but the correct standard for all nations.

When that standard is violated by any nation, I expect all members of the Fourth Estate to report and loudly condemn that violation. It is time that U.S. citizens demand nothing less. A good start would be to drop the term “insurgent” and begin using “terrorist.”

ROBERT BEAUREGARD

Alexandria

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