- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 9, 2006

In defense of the non-proliferation treaty

Frank J. Gaffney Jr.’s claim that “the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is dead” because it has been “violated with impunity by one or more of the parties,” is akin to arguing that laws making it illegal to shoplift, speed or commit murder are worthless because they are routinely flouted (“A farewell to arms control,” Commentary, Tuesday).

Law enforcement agencies do not declare laws irrelevant because criminals violate them. They redouble their efforts to ensure that a minority of lawbreakers does not threaten the majority of law-abiding citizens. Enforcement of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty should be no different.

In fact, the record of the treaty in preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, while not perfect, is quite good. Instead of the 15 or 20 countries with nuclear weapons that President John F. Kennedy, speculating in the early 1960s, worried might exist by 1975, there are just eight today, out of almost 190 signatories to the treaty. Three of these arsenals, belonging to India, Israel and Pakistan, exist outside of the treaty. Just two other countries, North Korea and Iran, are actively seeking to join the nuclear club.

Rejecting arms control, Mr. Gaffney endorses the Bush administration’s policy of regime change as the best and only solution to the spread of nuclear weapons. Yet abandoning diplomacy in favor of military action will only exacerbate the current problem, as more countries seek the nuclear option to defend their interests against what they perceive as a nuclear-armed bully.

And when it comes to Iran, what sort of message does it send when the world’s self-appointed advocate of democracy supports removing a democratically elected government in a region where we have been promoting the spread of democracy?


Wilmette, Ill.

An independent network

As the primary organizer of last weekend’s Venezuela Solidarity Conference, I must correct Stephen Johnson’s claim that “Venezuela’s embassy helped organize a National Solidarity Conference” (“Hugo Chavez, imperialist,” Commentary, Monday).

The conference, which established a solidarity network, adopted the following statement: “We declare that the Venezuela Solidarity Network will be based on the principles of local autonomy and independence from any government body.” In fact, we received no instruction, direction, assistance or financing from the Venezuelan government, embassy or any corporation.

The conference was organized by a wide range of U.S. religious, human rights, labor and solidarity groups as well as Bolivarian Circles, made up of Venezuelan immigrants and their U.S. supporters, and was funded by registration fees, organizational co-sponsors and individual donations. Though Mr. Johnson can hold and disseminate any opinions he wants, he is not free to distort the facts.


National co-coordinator

Nicaragua Network


Another policy about-face

According to The Washington Times, “The director of U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services said [Tuesday] that the agency is now ready to run a guest-worker program, just five months after he told a Senate hearing that the agency was not prepared” (“View on guest workers changes,” Page 1, Wednesday). The reported shortcomings of the immigration services have been legion in recent months — including everything from visas being to sold to criminals, to corrupt immigration officers accepting bribes, to CIS’ inability or unwillingness to investigate perhaps thousands of sham marriages, allowing any number of dubious persons to remain permanently in the United States.

Equally ironic, just days ago it was disclosed during the investigation of the Dubai company that wants to manage facilities at several major U.S. ports that the Coast Guard had issued a report identifying a number of “intelligence gaps” concerning the firm that were enough to raise concerns in Congress and the media. Yet within hours of that disclosure, the Coast Guard reversed itself, stating that the concerns in its report had been addressed adequately.

Could pressure from the Bush administration be the reason for these incredible about-faces by two key federal agencies responsible for combating terrorism and managing homeland security? Perhaps it is mere coincidence, but it also is eerily reminiscent of charges coming out of the hearings on weapons of mass destruction that intelligence analysts had been pressured to change their estimates of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction so the intelligence could be “fixed” around the policy. Could the same dynamic be at work here?


Montgomery Village

More firepower in Iraq

Sending AC-130 flying gunships to Iraq for close support is a brilliant strategic move that will make a great difference in the immediate future in combating insurgents on the move (“U.S. sends ‘flying gunships’ to Iraq,” Page 1, Monday). These four-engine gunships have sufficient armament to really make a difference.

In my experience with these while serving with Air Cavalry 3rd Squadron 17th Air Cavalry in 1967 and 1968 in Vietnam, there was many a day we called these in for close air support that changed the outcome of the engagement significantly in our favor, especially during the Tet Offensive in 1968, when North Vietnamese Army (NVA) pushed against our forces.

These used to be nicknamed “puff the magic dragon,” and the firepower they can put out is awesome. The NVA and local Viet Cong were terrified when they saw these gunships supporting our helicopter operation in combat action during 1967 and 1968.

Kudos to the Pentagon planners that have realized how good and efficient these gunships were in the past and how they will support the war on terror and against the insurgency in the current operations and war in Iraq.



Blocking the ports deal

I agree with the House Republicans’ effort to stop the ports deal with DP World, a Dubai-based ports operator (“House GOP unites to kill ports deal,” Page 1, Wednesday).

President Bush wanted to put the United Arab Emirates in charge of some U.S. ports. He wanted to reward the emirates for letting U.S. ships dock at their ports. Yet even if the emirates have been helpful since the war on terror started on September 11, 2001, we have to remember that they have had direct access to terrorists and have channeled a lot of money to them. Anybody could see that the DP World deal would have been a foolish one because our ports would have been vulnerable to terrorists. It would be like inviting a terrorist attack to happen here. Even the Democrats could see that it was bad. Sen. Byron L. Dorgan, a North Dakota Democrat, said: “I don’t need 45 days. I don’t need 45 minutes…. It’s just nuts.”



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