- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 12, 2006

Respect democratic outcomes

In response to Oliver North’s column “Who lost Nicaragua?” (Commentary, Monday) I would first like to point out that Nicaragua is a sovereign country. Nicaragua is not ours to lose.

In this column, Mr. North complained about the likelihood that Daniel Ortega is going to be elected president of Nicaragua. That is to be expected. Mr. Ortega, like Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez, whom Mr. North also condemned in his column, is a popular national leader.

Mr. North’s column is troubling because he seems to imply that the United States has the right to use subversion to abrogate democratic outcomes of which he disapproves.

In much of the world, socialism is popular and the United States is not. As democracy becomes established in the rest of the world, we should expect many democratically elected governments there to adopt socialist economies and anti-American foreign policies. If the United States is to promote democracy throughout the world, we will need to respect democratic outcomes.

JOHN ENGELMAN

Wilmington, Del.

Wrong on Gallaudet

It is rather premature for The Washington Times to conclude that Provost Jane K. Fernandes is the proper candidate to lead Gallaudet University after the retirement of President I. King Jordan (“Calm down, Gallaudet,” Editorial, Wednesday), especially since this is a struggle within the deaf community in the United States, and The Washington Times is hardly qualified to come up with a proper opinion on this issue. Despite the great advances that were made in the 20th century in the United States, the rights of deaf people are still being ignored.

DAVID BIRD

Rockville

Broken promises

The article “Fence funding in budget just the start” (Page 1, Wednesday) describes how the disgrace of Congress extends far beyond the scandals that tarnish its record. It has failed to deliver a rational energy policy, Social Security and health-care reform, or funding for a border fence to protect our nation. Although it passed the Homeland Security bill with $1.2 billion proposed for a border fence, the money for the fence has not been appropriated, and Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff has the option to use the money for other projects.

Also, House and Senate leaders never negotiated an agreement on immigration enforcement, but instead have tried to scam the American public by authorizing a border fence knowing full well that it probably will never be built. If this is the hallmark of our Congress, then American citizens should demand better of our elected officials or boot them out of office.

BOB ALLAN

Rochester Hills, Mich.

Debating missile defense

We commend the Wednesday Commentary column by James Hackett, “Perils from Pyongyang,” which contained proposals on how to deal with the latest provocation from North Korea. However, we take issue with Mr. Hackett’s proposal to accelerate deployment of additional ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California.

Mr. Hackett states that missile-defense opponents who oppose deployment do so because insufficient testing has been conducted to ascertain how the system would perform against threats. He fails to mention that many strong supporters of missile defense oppose further deployment before more tests are conducted to demonstrate that the system currently in place will function adequately.

All the tests of the missile-defense system conducted to date have incorporated some simulation to compensate for subsystems either not available or not in the right location to contribute to the test in progress. This is all a reasonable part of development. It is then usual to demonstrate that development is complete by conducting a series of firings to confirm that the system will perform as designed over a range of likely threats. This vital element is still awaited even though interceptors have been deployed in Alaska and California for more than a year.

We agree that the need for an effective missile defense system is more urgent than ever. We hope the Pentagon and Congress will ensure that the system, with additional testing, is fit for the intended purpose before it is declared operational. We may in the not-too-distant future have to rely on its capabilities to protect us against a number of attacking missiles. Then is not the time to be testing it for the first time.

STANLEY ORMAN

Rockville

MAJ. GEN. EUGENE FOX

Army (retired)

McLean

Needed: higher oil prices

“[F]or the first time since 2001, home heating bills will stay the same or decline from last year’s level.” This optimistic proclamation is from Wednesday’s Page One article “Winter heating likely to cost less” and is possible “thanks to plunging oil and natural gas prices.”

An all-too-common complaint concerned the earlier rise in gas and oil prices. The fact that oil prices have fallen in recent months is hailed as a positive factor that will allow money to be spent elsewhere and provide a surge to our economy. However, is it possible that falling gas and oil prices could produce a future cataclysm veiled by short-term savings and economic growth?

Considering the catastrophic problem we face with global warming, and knowing that a leading cause of this problem is methane and carbon-dioxide emissions resulting from the burning of fuels such as oil and natural gas, it seems that we should rethink our optimism about lower costs. In fact, knowing of the imminent dangers that will challenge us in our not-so-distant future if we keep burning fossil fuels at our current or increased pace, we should ardently question and oppose any opportunity we might have that promotes the use of more fossil fuels.

Though cheaper fuel prices may provide more income and positive economic growth in the present, it is in our world’s best interest to increase the price of fossil fuels in order to decrease consumption and promote the use of alternative energies.

GABRIEL BUTTRAM

Washington

Numbers that don’t add up

Yesterday’s editorial, “Political science,” discusses the release of a study that claims the Iraq war has cost the lives of 655,000. Of course, no other estimates of the death toll come close to that exaggerated figure, and the source of the study, Johns Hopkins University, has a well-documented track record of distorting death tolls for political purposes just as it did before the 2004 election as the editorial correctly points out.

But, the Johns Hopkins “scientists,” led by Gilbert Burnham, have created a problem for their anti-war propaganda and it is this: How can America and its allies be losing the war in Iraq if we are inflicting such enormous casualties on the enemy?

After all, we know how many coalition forces have died in the conflict and subtracting that number from the 655,000 death toll claim should lead people to conclude that we are winning and winning by overwhelming numbers. If the Johns Hopkins “study” is true then we should be heartened by our military success; surely the war can’t last much longer.

And, how can the anti-war left call the Iraq war a quagmire if the Johns Hopkins numbers are to be believed? Are the authors saying that the 655,000 deaths are mostly civilians?

Maybe the “scientists” included the bodies uncovered in mass graves all over Iraq in their death toll figures. But the evidence already proved beyond any doubt that those innocent civilians died at the hands of the Butcher of Baghdad, Saddam Hussein, not coalition forces.

RICHARD W. RESSLER

North Olmsted, Ohio


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