- The Washington Times - Friday, March 14, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Protecting Taiwan

I read with admiration the Sunday Commentary by Herbert London (“Taiwan’s straits of reality”) in which Mr. London shared his opinion that Taiwan deserves increased support and a renewed defensive commitment from the United States. It caused me to wonder if Taiwan today may be playing the role of the proverbial canary in the mine shaft, sounding out an alarm that the region is in danger from poisonous “Chinese imperial aspirations.” With any luck, leading democratic nations like the United States will heed this warning call and take action to remedy the imbalance in the Taiwan Strait before it gets any worse.

I did notice one error in this essay: Chen Shui-Bian is currently the outgoing president of Taiwan, not the former president. President Chen’s successor will be selected during the island’s 12th presidential election on March 22. Taiwan’s new president will be inaugurated on May 20.

EUGENIA YUN

Press officer

Taipei Economic and Cultural

Representative Office in the

United States

Washington

The farm bill

I read with interest the March 6 Op-Ed by David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World (“A compromise farm bill”). People of faith have been actively advocating for, and paying close attention to the process of, bringing forth a better, more equitable farm bill. As diverse as we are, the message to our elected representatives is clear: Farm policy is a moral issue because it can positively or adversely affect the most needy, hungry and poor people in our country and in many developing countries, as well. The allocation of federal dollars should shore up our tattered “safety net,” and the right to good, safe food must not be bargained away. In the United States, more than 35 million people, including 12.6 million children, live in households that experience hunger or the risk of hunger, and many of these are rural families and working poor.

Tough spending choices must be made. Surely we as a nation know that we should give a big boost of help to struggling Americans who need it the most by stopping huge payments to those who need it the least. Guided by our faith and our sense of right and wrong, we know that it is immoral, unconscionable and bad judgment to skimp on programs that help hungry people so that millions of dollars can continue to go to wealthy farmers and landowners.

The final farm bill should include permanent funding for nutrition programs at levels no less than those passed by the House. The choice is clear. The resolution is at hand. As the farm bill goes, so goes the fate of millions of hungry real people.

SANDRA CHAMPION

Hunger Action Enabler

National Capital Presbytery

Presbyterian Church, USA

Gaithersburg

U.S. incarceration rates

While I agree with Jacob Sullum (“America No. 1, bar none” Commentary, Saturday) that the America’s No. 1 ranking in incarceration rates worldwide is not a positive sign of our commitment to law enforcement, I see a more clear example of the dichotomy between our prison rates and our ability to reduce crime in this country. Put simply, we’re locking up the same people over and over again.

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2002, 39 percent of people in U.S. prisons have been there three or more times before. Clearly, being “tough on crime” isn’t working. However, a strong federal initiative to fund the programs that help prisoners reintegrate into society and not return to crime would actually improve safety on our streets as well as reduce the number of people in our prisons. The Senate’s passage of the Second Chance Act on Tuesday is a good start, but much more is needed. There are programs that work; it’s time to get behind them and make reducing recidivism a national priority.

FRED DAVIE

New York

What to do about Iran

The thoughtful observations in the editorial “It’s Iran vs. Israel” (Saturday)are only reflections of very sad and highly dangerous geopolitical realities in the Middle East.

Shi’ite Iran not only threatens the very existence of Israel, but also challenges the free Western democracies as well as pro-West Sunni Gulf States in the Middle East.

Iran has been gradually testing the resources and willpower of the United States, Britain and other European countries and Israel in particular in a very calculated way, both directly and indirectly, by using Islamic terrorist proxies.

It has been running rings around divided and feeble Western countries and progressing at a faster rate to develop nuclear weapons capabilities to complement its missiles.

Iran has actually humiliated the British Navy by capturing some of its personnel in international waters last year without any effective response from the United Kingdom to these illegal actions. This was a very undignified episode for all British citizens and certainly for the British government.

Israel, perhaps under pressure from the United States and European governments, has been reduced to only reacting with strategy. Israel is a small country and only a couple of Iranian nukes would virtually destroy it. Hence, it should act before it’s too late and the Bush administration should give necessary help to destroy Iran’s nuclear-related assets.

Retrospectively, it has become clear that the U.S. government should have dealt with Iran before Iraq. Saddam was a devil of a dictator, but he was a secular ruler. The Western countries will pay a much bigger price in the future if no effective actions are taken against Iran now.

I hope the Bush administration is not handicapped by vested American business interests, because inaction would lead to nuclear confrontation in the Middle East after some time, making Russia the No. 1 global power due to its energy assets.

VIPUL THAKORE

London

Elitist Maryland Democrats

I hope the people of Maryland remember on Election Day to vote out the elitist Democratic legislators who raised our taxes $1.3 billion this past January (“O’Malley top aides get pay increases,” Page 1, Saturday). The increases came during difficult economic times, a budget shortfall and cuts in state spending, and now they have the audacity to give themselves hefty raises, some of which are a 37.5 percent increase in salary.

I have to say I am not surprised by these tactics of the left, but I am still appalled by their lack of integrity. The governor defends the raises by saying that Maryland needs to have a “professional, high-performing government that works.” If that is the case, we need to bring back former Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. and former Lt. Gov. Michael Steele.

LORRAINE RYAN

Berwyn Heights

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