Tuesday, December 2, 2003

‘Perception is reality’

Sunday’s editorial “Democracy in Hong Kong” hits a raw nerve that not many people want to face. While we are right to celebrate the district council elections in Hong Kong, which handed the pro-Beijing parties a defeat, the editorial concludes that “it is wise to remember that the regime has not hesitated to send tanks to quell democratic demonstrations in Beijing or troops to crush secessionists in Tibet.”

Perception is reality. Once Beijing considers Hong Kong a threat to its control and power, it will crack down. Remember Tiananmen Square 14 years ago? Deng Xiaoping started a massacre despite being watched and warned by the outside world.

You’re correct to say, “The people of Hong Kong want freedom.” The massive protest July 1 and the district council elections have clearly demonstrated that. Hong Kong will either march toward democracy or it will not. A showdown with Beijing will happen sooner or later.

This is a battle the Hong Kong people have to fight. However, the United States can lend us a helping hand by telling Beijing to follow strictly the “one country, two systems” formula and keep its hands off Hong Kong. If Beijing still will listen to anyone, I’m afraid it has to be Washington.

Congress and news outlets such as The Washington Times have spoken out strongly for Hong Kong. Perhaps President Bush and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell can also say to their “friends” in Beijing the same thing in no-less-clear terms.


Hong Kong

To Hillary: Support our troops

In regard to yesterday’s Page One story “Home again, Hillary bashes Bush,” I am once again appalled to read comments regarding the war in Iraq that have been spoken by one of America’s self-proclaimed smart people.

When are the Democrats and other vocal complainers going to realize that comments such as Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s questioning of the possibility of victory in Iraq continue to feed the imaginations and minds of our enemies?

The terrorists — the organized groups, the individuals and the nations that harbor them — love to hear that our country is divided with regard to the war in Iraq and the war on terror. To their way of thinking, the more they do to divide us, the more quickly we’ll leave and they can get on with the business of causing destruction.

Do these Americans not realize that the comments they make are heard around the world, not just in the American press? No matter what anyone’s feelings on the war are, our troops need to know they are supported and that we feel they will win. We must win over there. If we give up, the terrorists will come to America.

Stop aiding the enemy with comments and try to be supportive for a change. It’s bad enough that the Clintons disparaged the military while in the White House. President Bush, unlike the Clintons, makes his decisions based on the good of the country, not on how the outcome will affect his political career. It’s a shame more politicians aren’t like him.




I was appalled that Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton would take her partisan politics to the war zone in an effort to undermine our courageous president. It is unbelievable to me that she would tell our troops, “Americans are wholeheartedly proud of what you are doing, but there are many questions at home about the administration’s policies.”

Like Scott Reed, the Republican consultant, I believe her comment is “un-American.” I wholeheartedly believe she deserves the outrage of our nation and its leaders. It is one thing to criticize at home, but in the “terror zone,” it is unacceptable. I believe the senator should apologize to our troops and to the nation for her comments. It proves that she lacks discretion and our support.


Maryville, Tenn.

To be or not to be

The pros and cons of a death penalty in the United States are discussed to a great extent. The speakers, however, do not touch the underlying philosophical issues. (“A grimmer fate?” Commentary, yesterday). These need to be identified to clarify thinking.

The death penalty is not a sign of an inhumane or uncultured mindset but, on the contrary, a consequence of the realization of the importance of the individual.

Of all the nations in the world, it was the United States that made the supreme value of the individual her founding principle. This is the meaning of an inalienable individual right, enshrined in the Declaration of Independence. Consequently, the murder of the individual is the most heinous crime, demanding the death penalty as the ultimate punishment for destruction of the ultimate value. All lesser penalties would necessarily diminish the worth ascribed to the individual.

Most Europeans and liberals in our country look at society in more collectivistic terms. They value the individual less and the collective more. Hence, they lack the concept of an ultimate penalty.

We should become aware that opposition to the death penalty is in the end a sign of disrespect of the individual.


Alexandria, Va.

Blasting off the space policy

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher is right to challenge the traditional way of doing human spaceflight and to call for bold presidential leadership in opening up this frontier. (“NASA misses the mark,” Op-Ed, Monday). Space is so critical to our future that we must enact policies that encourage broad access at lower cost.

The commercial activity Mr. Rohrabacher cites will provide new opportunities for lower-cost access to space and enable new markets for products and services generated there. The Zero Gravity/Zero Tax bill and the Commercial Space Act of 2003 are two pieces of legislation Congress should pass to make government less of an obstacle and more of an enabler to the emerging space entrepreneurs.

Mr. Rohrabacher is correct to give priority to building on what we know about the moon. Our national space vision should include humans on Mars, but only as part of a logical strategy to develop a permanent and sustainable presence in space. It would be a shame to mount a crash effort to reach Mars and, after collecting some pictures and rocks, to cancel the program and once again sit around reminiscing for another 30 years.

I hope the vision being expressed by Mr. Rohrabacher, Sen. Sam Brownback and others will be expressed in President Bush’s new space policy. This president has a way of overturning failed conventional wisdom, which is needed in this critical area.

Bold leadership in space will be consistent with the president’s overall priorities. Opening space in a big way converges with the administration’s interest in enhancing national security and encouraging economic growth. Accessing the apparently vast resources of the solar system to provide for the future is also consistent with Mr. Bush’s vision for welcoming and protecting new generations of humans.


Silver Spring, Md.

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