- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 31, 2007

The situation in Iraq

The likely retreat of America from Iraq, sooner or later, with whatever label we ultimately attach to it, reminds us that reality is a brutal teacher (“Senate OKs Iraq pullout,” Page 1, Friday). Prior to World War II, reality revealed that no matter how persistently Winston Churchill warned against the Nazi menace, too many of his countrymen, fellow members of Parliament, and European allies would not adopt his views. Instead, he came in for insult and ridicule. It took the Nazi invasion of Europe to convince them.

Today’s reality reveals that no matter how persistently President Bush warns against the jihadist menace too many of his countrymen, members of Congress and European allies will not adopt his views. Instead, he comes in for insult and ridicule. Thus far, terrorist attacks all over the world haven’t convinced them.

THOMAS M. DORAN

Plymouth, Mich.

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Whether or not the current situation in Iraq has improved in the last month is debatable, but one thing that is not is the effect of the so-called surge strategy (“Surge is ‘so far, so good’,” Page 1, March 19). The surge has nothing to do with changes in Iraq; those changes are due to the innovations of the new commander there, Gen. David Petraeus.

A rise or fall in pure personnel numbers by itself is meaningless; the theater commander is the one deciding how they will be used. President Bush insists that commanders in the field are responsible for events there and that the Democrats in Congress should stay out of the strategy business. He said politicians in Washington shouldn’t dictate military strategy to a place that’s 6,000 miles away. But isn’t the president a politician in Washington and the same distance away from Iraq?

It is also strange if you consider that the Republican Party public-relations machine has been busy churning out soundbite after soundbite saying the surge is improving things in Iraq. Well, are the generals in the field responsible for success and failure, or aren’t they? Republicans seem to want it both ways.

Some Democrats want that too, since they want to mount opposition to the war without really opposing it. I’m glad to see some boldness in the House and Senate. Congress has every right to determine how federal money is to be spent — that’s the point of having a Congress.

More than that, on this subject the Democrats happen to be right. The message that a withdrawal time table is a recipe for failure is plain wrong. What encourages our enemies to strike and our allies to be lazy is that they think we’re never going to leave Iraq.

Finally, the truth is that Congress and the executive branch have an equal responsibility to work out budget issues. They are both responsible if our forces in the field don’t get needed funding. It’s disheartening to see the exchange between Congress and the president reach cartoon-like levels. It sounded like the end of an episode of Scooby-Do: “And I would have gotten away with this war too if it weren’t for those meddling Congressmen.” Our elected officials owe us more than that; I hope they deliver.

JASON BELCHER

San Angelo, Texas

Looking for a conservative candidate

Conservatives might benefit from the 2008 election starting this early. If the election cycle were on a more normal calendar, conservatives might enter the primary with only two options, but no real conservative choice. This way, the two front-runners, Rudy Giuliani and Sen. John McCain, are exposed for their liberal views on some issues in time for a better choice to emerge. That choice might be Gov. Mitt Romney, if it turns out that his new discovered views on abortion and other issues are real, not opportunism.

It isn’t clear what effect the entrance of former Sen. Fred Thompson to the race now will have, although it might bring the entire field to the right. His entrance has certainly been welcomed (“Why Thompson should run,” Commentary, Thursday). His position in the polls is far behind the two more liberal candidates. What is needed is a higher-profile conservative to jump into the race, someone who is more widely recognized and would poll high enough to really force Messrs. McCain and Giuliani to appeal more to conservatives. The other option is for a conservative to enter the race late and rally support to win a few primaries. That candidate’s win would at that point become inevitable.

It may even be possible for a conservative already in the race, maybe Mr. Thompson or Mr. Romney, to rally at the last minute. Without the conservative base, it would be really hard for a Republican to win. Thinking that a Republican is better than a Democrat won’t motivate that base, if the candidate doesn’t appeal to them. It’s necessary for the Republican nominee to be a conservative, therefore, and for that reason we can still hope that when voters look at the best choice for a winning candidate in the primary, a true conservative will emerge as the favorite.

JONATHAN WILLIAMS

Boston

Saudi Arabia’s political opportunism

What a difference 15 years makes in the attitude of Saudi Arabia about U.S. troops in the Middle East (“Saudi king hits U.S. in Iraq,” Page 1, Friday). In 1991, Saudi Arabia did not regard U.S. troops as occupiers when we fended off the Iraqi forces advancing into Kuwait — Iraqi forces with the possible ultimate objective of the northern oil fields of Saudi Arabia.

Instead, we were welcomed as saviours of that autocratic government, albeit with the requirement that we adhere to and honor their innate intolerance of non-Muslims.

Now, when the Saudi king is confident of his ability to ward off any aggressive power in the region, suddenly we are occupiers. I wonder what would be their response if Iran turned its attention and military on Saudi Arabia? Would the king refuse our military assistance? Would he tell the few remaining U.S. troops in that nation to leave?

Saudi Arabia is no friend of ours. Only in time of crisis for the kingdom do they reach out to us. Otherwise, their policy is anti-American, siding with terrorist groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, funding both and establishing the former as the government of the Palestinian Authority and legitimizing it at the Mecca conference.

NELSON MARANS

Silver spring

The hunt for fugitive illegals

In regards to the article “Manhunts swamped by fugitive alien toll” (Page 1, Tuesday), which reports that there are “more than 623,000 illegal alien fugitives hiding in cities from Seattle to Miami and Washington”:

With only 500 agents looking for over a half-million fugitive illegals, a ratio of one agent for every 1,246 “absconders,” it’s hard to believe that the dysfunctional Department of Homeland Security could be able to supervise a proposed law providing amnesty for up to 20 million illegal aliens.

Every one of this huge number of illegal aliens was ordered to be deported, but each was subject to appeal. Since the government did not have sufficient facilities to jail them, they were released, subject to recall. Unbelievably, there was no plan to track them or requirements for them to report back during this period. They represent an estimated 5.4 percent of the country’s illegal-alien population.

If DHS can’t round up the criminal illegals that have been ordered deported, how will it be able to administer a program that Congress will be voting on later this year to give amnesty to millions of illegal aliens.

BYRON SLATER

San Diego

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