- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 13, 2006

A weak show of hospitality

While the “Taiwanese leader drops in on Libya” (Briefly, World, Thursday), the U.S. deputy secretary of state was defending Washington’s decision to permit Taiwanese President Chen Shui-bian only brief refueling stops in Alaska during his trips to and from Paraguay and Costa Rica.

“We want to be supportive of Taiwan,” Robert Zoellick told the House International Relations Committee on May 10 “while we’re not encouraging those who try to move toward independence… Independence means war.” However, Mr. Chen did not seek support for formal independence from China, which considers Taiwan a Chinese province, and the only “war” he wished to promote was the war on terrorism.

Taiwan’s efforts to combat money laundering, increase transport security and maintain other anti-terrorist measures were praised by the State Department three years ago and have increased steadily ever since.

Mr. Chen hoped to discuss more cooperation against terrorism, as well as against avian flu, with members of Congress. Seeking to avoid unnecessary diplomatic dust-ups with Beijing, he sought to do so not in Washington, but in New York or San Francisco (as he had done on previous stopovers).

As he is considering changes to Taiwan’s constitution that could include a bill of rights, he also wished to consult with American legal and human rights experts.

On May 2, following the State Department’s refusal to permit Mr. Chen a layover en route to Latin America, Rep. Sherrod Brown, Ohio Democrat, and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, California Republican, co-chairmen of the Congressional Taiwan Caucus, sent a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice urging her to invite Mr. Chen to stop in New York en route home so he could meet with a congressional group.

An affirmative reply would have demonstrated that she, and not her Beijing counterpart, was in charge of American foreign policy. As no reply came, Mr. Chen instead accepted the hospitality of that other bastion of freedom, Libya, where he discussed exchanges of representative offices and cooperation with fishing, tourist, technological and petrochemical operations.

Is something wrong with this picture?

LORNA HAHN

Executive director

Association on Third World Affairs

Washington

Free speech and media bias

One comment on Nat Hentoff’s Monday Op-Ed column, “Chilling free speech,” centers on Bard’s quote from Hamlet: “The lady protests too much, methinks.” Mr. Hentoff’s proclamations that free speech is impinged upon by the recent American Israel Public Affairs Committee case is unsupported. He harkens to language cut from the 1917 Espionage Act for defense.

The fact that the journalists who are under investigation have won Pulitzer Prizes for their stories tells more about media bias against conservative or Republican Party administrations than it does about the purported lack of “criminality” in how the information was obtained and made public.

The place where free speech is under attack is on the campuses of colleges and universities across the country. Let the court system sort out the criminal intent or lack thereof with respect to Steven J. Rosen and Keith Weissman. Pine no more for their trial, Mr. Hentoff, but champion those who are muzzled on the campus. Their loss occurs without judicial review, and the results have many dire effects upon the future of America and our right to free speech.

NEIL C. ARNOLD

Fort Belvoir

Tradgedy in Fairfax

The fatal shooting of Fairfax County police Detective Vicky Armel and the shooting of her two colleagues, which left one critically injured and hospitalized, is a terrible tragedy (“Gunman kills Fairfax cop,” Page 1, Tuesday). Those of us who work in the law-enforcement field and criminal-justice system are always cognizant of such possibilities, but when the reality occurs, a part of our core selves is engulfed with the traumatic event. It doesn’t matter if we were personally acquainted with Detective Armel or are acquainted with her surviving colleagues because what we know and understand is that they are part of a cohesive bond we all share as public service professionals who are engaged in securing public safety for all citizens. The loss; the injuries; and the impact on the family, police department and community; and the associated grief all belong to us.

The knowledge of the potential for such dreadful moments does not facilitate the coping process in any way. In an attempt to make sense out of the senseless, we try to remain strong, brave and supportive of one another, but in the process, we all grieve deeply.

The community also is impacted. Skilled police officers who are highly trained and dedicate their lives to protect the safety of the citizenry also are vulnerable to victimization, and when this occurs, the effect reverberates into a startling realization that no one is ever completely safe. It is a fact none of us wants to dwell upon but that we must face.

During this emotional period in which we all share the grievous loss of Detective Armel, let us all appreciate those who touch our lives in both close and distant ways to make our world a better place by their dedication of service and the ultimate price of sacrificing their lives in the line of duty, as a consequence.

KAREN L. BUNE

Victim specialist/legal assistant

State’s Attorney’s Office

Prince George’s County

The Ahmadinejad letter

When I learned that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad had written a letter to President Bush, I held out some hope, however minuscule, that it might provide an opening for the nations of the world to defuse the increasingly dangerous war of words over Iran’s growing capability to produce nuclear weapons (“Iranian leader writes to Bush ,” Page 1, Tuesday).

Having read Mr. Ahmadinejad’s rambling screed in its entirety, I think it is clear that the conclusions of American officials are correct: His aim appears not to be conciliation and finding a solution to the crisis with which the world can live. He proposes nothing on this front.

The lengthy letter could appropriately be titled “The World According to Ahmadinejad,” as it touches on various facets of humanity’s existence and how the peoples of the world have interacted in the past and present and will in the future.

Much responsibility is placed upon the United States for conditions in our nation that Mr. Ahmadinejad deems to be poor and for the leading role we traditionally have adopted in world affairs.

Regrettably, the occurrence of the Holocaust and Israel’s right to exist in a sovereign state are again called into question. Mr. Bush consistently is challenged to live up to the ideals of Jesus Christ, an interesting point to be made by one who consistently has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, which it would be reasonable to assume would mean incinerating millions of innocent men, women, children and infants through Iran’s new nuclear capability.

If Mr. Ahmadinejad should ever become serious about striking a conciliatory and cooperative posture with the United States and other civilized nations and demonstrates a willingness to relinquish his nuclear weapons ambitions in exchange for being admitted to the world community, I would encourage our leadership to engage him in dialogue. Sadly, no such indication is evident in the Iranian president’s ruminations

OREN M. SPIEGLER

Upper Saint Clair, Pa.


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