- The Washington Times - Monday, October 30, 2006

Israel’s cluster bombings

In his Oct. 23 Op-Ed column, “Human-rights falsehood,” Gerald Steinberg dismisses critics of Israel’s massive use of cluster bombs in southern Lebanon because, in his view, those critics had no military experience and were biased against Israel and also because the use of cluster bombs was essential to Israel’s self-defense against Hezbollah rockets.

If Mr. Steinberg wanted to find authoritative, unbiased critiques of Israeli decisions on cluster bombs, he need not go to human rights organizations that he distrusts.

Instead, he should listen to a commander in the Israel Defense Forces’ Multiple Launch Rocket System unit, quoted in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz: “In Lebanon, we covered entire villages with cluster bombs,” he said, “what we did there was crazy and monstrous.”

More than 1 million bomblets were rained on southern Lebanon in the last few days of the war. They did nothing to stop Hezbollah rockets, which actually increased during that same period, but they did create a hazard to farmers and strollers and children for months if not years to come.

GARY SICK

Columbia University

New York City

Get on the same page

President Bush has said immigration is not a priority in this election (“Bush signs law to build border fence,” Page 1, Friday). Yet since June, when Rep. Brian P. Bilbray used the immigration debate as the determining factor to win in the San Diego election, the tide has turned in favor of electing congressional representatives who are willing to fight for immigration reform. Unfortunately, a poorly funded 700-mile fence is the only newsworthy achievement for the 109th Congress.

Both Democratic and Republican candidates are running on some sort of plan for resolving illegal immigration. Besides Iraq, illegal immigration is the second most important topic for Americans. In May, Mr. Bush even dedicated his first televised domestic speech to immigration reform.

The president’s failure to secure a consensus in Congress on comprehensive immigration reform indicates a diplomatic disconnect between the president and Congress.

America desperately needs representatives who have an accurate grasp of what is going on in Washington, Iraq and on illegal immigration.

KURT GRELA

Washington

Illegals nothing to celebrate

Mark Steyn writes, “Last Tuesday morning, in a maternity ward somewhere in the United States, the 300 millionth American arrived. He or she got a marginally warmer welcome than Mark Foley turning up to hand out the prizes at junior high” (“Not a Malthusian crowd,” Commentary, Oct. 23).

What’s there to celebrate? I live in California — ground zero for illegal immigration. We estimate we have 6 million illegal aliens in our state, and they are still coming.

More than 60 percent of babies born in hospitals are to illegal alien mothers. Our schools are packed with illegal aliens, and academic standards have been lowered to accommodate non-English-speaking students.

We already have lost 100 emergency rooms because they are being used as free health clinics for noncitizens. Crime is soaring, and we are experiencing inner-city decay and urban expansion. We are losing farmland and our wilderness at a rapid pace. It costs California $10.5 billion a year to educate, medicate and incarcerate illegal aliens. California debt is $38 billion.

What’s there to celebrate, Mr. Steyn?

HAYDEE PAVIA

Laguna Woods, Calif.

Turkey’s friendship

The last paragraph of theOct. 16 editorial “Turkey’s political future” exemplifies the attitude U.S. administrations have held toward Turkey for the past two decades. Specifically, the failure to have the political will to pressure Turkey to address such issues as human rights, religious freedom, support and respect for democratic institutions and principles, the Kurds, the Aegeans, the Armenian genocide and invasion of and the continuing illegal occupation of Cyprus — for fear that Turkey might “slip deeper into a hostile Islamist Middle East.”

Frankly, the argument of the continuous “carrot” approach toward Turkey is getting old. It has been my experience that whenever you urge U.S. policymakers to pressure Turkey on any of these issues, they’re quick to remind you that yet another election is about to take place in Turkey, and this would not be a “good time,” implying that Turkey could go fundamentalist. It never has.

In spite of this approach, Turkey has failed to be a true friend and ally of the United States and the West. Denying the United States “use of its territory during the invasion of Iraq” is only one example.

The problems that Turkey has encountered in its European Union accession process have been of its own making. It refuses to implement the Ankara Protocol, which it signed, to extend its customs union to Cyprus, an EU country, and it has not made any significant progress relating to democracy, religious freedoms and the rule of law.

Achieving the goals of genuine democratic freedoms, political stability and economic progress will require fundamental changes in Turkey’s governmental institutions. The United States shares in these interests as well.

To promote these interests, the United States should more forcefully exert its influence on Turkey, including the Turkish military. We need to be pressing for fundamental changes now, regardless of Turkey’s EU aspirations. It will be good for Turkey, good for Turkey’s neighbors and good for U.S. interests. This approach would serve best in securing Turkey to the West and therefore hopefully tapping into its potential for truly being “a friend of the West.”

NICK LARIGAKIS

Executive director

American Hellenic Institute

Washington

Bloodied Hezbollah

Thank you very much for the column “Deadly Hezbollah chess match,” (Commentary, Thursday), which exposes how Hezbollah infiltrated the homes and lives of Lebanese citizens. This immoral endangering of innocents is in flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

If the West is to maintain perspective on the jihadist threat, we must not be fooled when Islamist terrorists purposely get civilians killed, then blame their victim — in this case, Israel — for defending itself.

DAVID B. GREENBERG

Flushing, N.Y.

Either or

A scant few weeks ago, Sen. George Allen, reeling from a series of self-inflicted wounds, faced me and my fellow Virginians with a plaintive entreaty to ignore personal attacks and instead “focus on the issues.” Now, however, locked in the fight of his political life, Mr. Allen has opted to attack candidate Jim Webb for having the audacity to incorporate a few of the wartime horrors Mr. Webb witnessed firsthand into the narratives of his best-selling novels (“Webb hit for novels’ sex-laced language” Page 1, Saturday).

I’m not sure what infuriates me more: that the Allen campaign holds the electorate in such contempt that it believes a few out-of-context quotes mined from decades-old works of fiction will lead Virginians to disqualify an author from holding public office or that the tactic might actually prove to be effective.

Whatever the outcome, Mr. Allen’s hypocrisy has been exposed.

SCOTT KENYON

Vienna

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