- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Playing with fire

Daniel Gallington (“Harriet redux?” Commentary, Friday) misses a point in his criticism of Bush administration political appointees. They all served a political purpose. Retention of George Tenet as CIA director enabled President Bush to gain overwhelming support for the war to depose Saddam Hussein, something his father failed to get even for a war to expel Saddam from Kuwait.

Harriet Miers’ nomination to replace Sandra Day O’Connor on the Supreme Court was an attempt to appeal to female voters while nominating someone who could get confirmed easily because of her lack of judicial record. It wasn’t a wise decision, but considering the 42 votes cast against Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s confirmation, one can understand the motivation.

As for Attorney General Alberto Gonzales’ competence, his predecessor, John Ashcroft, met all of Mr. Gallington’s criteria — senator, governor, attorney general of Missouri — yet came under just as much fire from Democrats as Mr. Gonzales. Republicans have to realize that since abortion and affirmative action became Democratic dogma, Democrats no more want a successful Republican attorney general than they want conservative federal judges. I believe it is a mistake for the Bush administration to be as forthcoming as it has been regarding the “sour grapes” of the eight fired U.S. attorneys. Force the Democrats to get court support for their subpoenas, if they can, before allowing them to examine executive branch personnel decisions regarding political appointees.

The eight fired U.S. attorneys are no less political than former Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld or any other executive branch political appointee. The administration’s acquiescence in this Democratic witch hunt will haunt every successor presidential administration to come.



Take the civilized path

Louis Rene Beres clearly frames the American predicament by stating that “we might now be perfectly capable of warding off any tangible defeat of our military forces and perhaps even of winning identifiable victories, but we still may have to face extraordinary harms” (“Deterrence and modern aggressors,” Op-Ed, Friday). Unfortunately, his logic fails murderously in concluding that “in the absence of enemy rationality, we would have no practical alternative to expanding assorted plans for pre-emption.”

Any pre-emptive military strike is an act of war, and war by its very nature is murderous. Pre-emption is not a recipe for prevention. It is a provocation of yet more violence. If you have any doubt of this reality, look no further than Iraq.

We need to be making more friends in the world, not making more enemies with unilateral bombing or invasions that inevitably kill hundreds if not thousands of innocent people — even when all attempts are made to avoid such deaths. Just two months ago, Mr. Beres correctly stated: “There is no more sacred principle of law and justice than the imperative to protect the innocent” (“Just cause, just means.” Op-Ed, Feb 15). Thus, pre-emptive strikes, by his own definition, would be a violation of this most sacred principle. Such murderous acts of war won’t gain us favor in any nation.

Our best hope for improving our future security and reducing the growing risks we face is by advancing our military’s current counterterrorism measures being implemented in the Horn of Africa and elsewhere on that troubled continent. Our best intelligence and military minds have finally realized that we can get out ahead of the al Qaeda curve of mass murder by occupying the chaotic and impoverished lethal conditions in advance of their arrival. Digging water wells, building non-jihadist schools, assisting local farmers and arresting local bandits — in other words, making friends with the locals — is the most effective means of earning the friendships we need to help us find and bring to justice those who mean us harm that they can deliver by the truckload.

Our increasing vulnerability is, as Mr. Beres says, “the natural consequence of constantly evolving military and terrorists technologies,” a “frightful evolution” that can never “be stopped or reversed.” This is the reality of a world of increasingly powerful, affordable and ubiquitous stealth technologies. It also is by the transformation of our military into a development machine that we will ensure our greatest future security.

Pre-emption is the path to Armageddon. Global development is the path to improving our own security and maintaining our most valued freedoms and ideals.

It’s not too late to take the civilized path.


Mill Valley, Calif.

It’s about time

The Sunday editorial “Made in America, pirated in China” underlines China’s ugly business practice. Although a member of the World Trade Organization, China unfortunately does not abide by WTO rules and ethics and is reluctant to allow a level playing field to other countries, especially democracies.

The editorial refers to China’s businesses illegally duplicating billions of dollars’ worth of American DVDs, CDs and software programs, which are then sold for a tiny fraction of their legal value. Indeed, according to a 2005 report by the U.S. trade representative, more than 90 percent of “virtually every form of intellectual property” is pirated in China.

I have come across young Chinese selling Hollywood Titles’ DVDs, CDs etc. at a fraction of the cost of the real thing in London, which may be China’s “exports,” magnifying the United States’ losses. It is possible that it is happening in many other countries.

The U.S. actions against China are long overdue.



Small-d democratic fraud

Thank you for publishing my letter, “A democratic fraud,” on Monday. However, in editing it you capitalized the “D” on “democrat” in the last sentence, thus making it appear that I was associating myself with the Democratic Party. That is not — by any stretch of the imagination — accurate.

The word “democrat” with a small”d” means a person who believes in democracy. That was the usage I intended. I am not, never have been and never will be a Democrat, and I shudder to think some of my friends might have seen the letter on Monday and believe I had changed my political stripes. It’s not true — it’s bad editing.



Global justice

Austin Bay writes about the most important concept for maintaining human freedoms and security in his “Quiet step for rule of law” (Commentary, Friday). It’s unfortunate that he missed one of the most important details that makes the rule of law effective.

Applying the rule of law requires a thorough investigation, a fair trial and proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Without these, the Iraqi legal system is no better than a lynch mob.

The most important point Mr. Bay missed is the profound violation of this concept by our nation’s own pre-emptive war and criminally managed occupation of Iraq. President Bush’s accusations and policies were outside the rule of law and created the conditions for the mass murders, torture and abuses that are occurring within that chaotic nation-state.

Until we as a civilization learn to apply the rule of law to all in this increasingly interdependent world, we will not achieve the global justice that is a prerequisite to establishing real peace everywhere.


Milwaukee, Wis.

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