Monday, September 8, 2003

Have the Beruit bombings been forgotten?

I have just read Caspar W. Weinberger’s Op-Ed column on Richard Miniter’s book “Losing Bin Laden,” criticizing former President Bill Clinton’s unwillingness to take action against Osama bin Ladin (“Bill Clinton’s failure on terrorism,” Tuesday). Particularly striking is his comment that Mr. Clinton wanted “absolute proof” before striking terrorists.

Doesn’t anyone — especially Mr. Weinberger — recall the reason why the Reagan administration did not strike back against Hezbollah after it blew up the U.S. embassy in Beirut in April 1983 (63 dead ) or why there was no strike against Hezbollah after the Marine barracks bombing in October of that same year (241 dead)? Let me refresh some memories.

In January 1981, at the ceremonies for the hostages returning from Iran, President Reagan promised “swift and effective retribution” against any terrorist group that targeted Americans. At the time of the Beirut bombings, the U.S. government knew with certainty that Hezbollah had perpetratedthosetwo tragedies and knew the location in Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley of Hezbollah’s headquarters and training camps. So why was there no “swift and effective retribution” as promised by Mr. Reagan?

There was no retaliatory strike because Mr. Weinberger, then the secretary of defense, argued against such strikes in opposition to Secretary of State George P. Shultz, Director of Central Intelligence William J. Casey and even the president himself. Mr. Weinberger argued that women and children at the camps and headquarters might be killed, and so it was better to do nothing. Mr. Weinberger pressed his case so vigorously that the president did not act and so failed to live up to the promise he had made to Americans on Jan. 27, 1981.

The failure of U.S. retaliation informed Hezbollah that the United States talked big but wielded no stick. It then felt free to bomb for the second time the U.S. embassy in Beirut (1984), hijack TWA-847 (June 1985, with one U.S. sailor killed) and kidnap a number of Americans in Beirut, holding them hostage in barbaric conditions for as long as seven years. Several hostages were killed during this time, including CIA officer William F. Buckley and Marine Maj. Rich Higgins.

Had the United States struck hard at Hezbollah after the April 1983 attack on the embassy, or certainly after the Marine barracks six months later, Hezbollah very well might have been deterred from undertaking those later terrorist operations against the United States.

Mr. Weinberger bears measurable responsibility for the perpetuation of terrorism against Americans because of his extreme reluctance to go after the most deadly terrorist groups in the early 1980s.

Mr. Weinberger’s role in the force-down of Palestinian terrorist Abu Abbas after killing one American during the 1985 Achille Lauro hijacking, and the one-time limited U.S. strike against Libya for the bombing of the La Belle disco in Berlin (1986, two Americans dead) does not come close to undoing the damage done by the failure to hit Hezbollah with sustained and deadly force. Hezbollah remains an organization that continues to kill innocent civilians in Israel, any of whom could be (and have been) Americans visiting the Holy Land.

Mr. Weinberger’s criticism now of Mr. Clinton for the latter’s lack of action against a deadly terrorist group reminds one of dialogue between the kettle and the pot.


Armstrong Atlantic State University

Savannah, Ga.

No comparison between Bush and Hitler

Jonah Goldberg makes a sobering point about the hyperbole of Bush critics who can’t be bothered with substantive policy debate but resort to bizarrely gerrymandered assertions that Bush is the moral equivalent of Adolf Hitler (” ‘Bush equals Hitler’ adds up to holocaust denial,” Commentary, Internet, Friday). It would be far fairer to suggest that these very purveyors of ad hominem wisdom are themselves the inheritors of Nazi propagandist Joseph Goebbels.

As far as the trend of trivializing the symbols and personages of the Holocaust era through trite insensitive invocations, the rabid anti-Bush crowd are only the latest adherents to a course and anti-intellectual tradition of political discourse. That society has largely excused such outbursts of inflamed rhetoric as well-intentioned, if poorly expressed, political passion is a far more chilling reminder that one can never forget events and yet, completely lose a sense of their meaning.

If unapologetic representatives of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) like Ingrid Newkirk, who equated broiler chickens and Holocaust victims, retain any political credibility whatsoever in the wake of such remarks, it is little wonder that there is no self-restraintexercised amongst the Hitler-equals-Bush crowd. Metaphorically speaking, this is one of those times when shooting the messenger is exactly what is required.


Exeter, R.I.

The hitches of hemp

Regarding yesterday’s article, “DEA set to battle pot advocates over hemp use in food” (Nation), let me say that it’s not just the Drug Enforcement Administration that’s set to do battle. There are millions of grass-roots parents and grandparents and service organization members linked in a movement to educate America about these issues and stop the movement to legalize pot and other drugs.

Pushing hemp and the medical marijuana hoax are intertwined. Americans need to know hemp is just another name for marijuana. It’s all part of the same plant.

Legalizers are only getting extensive publicity on these issues because of the fat cat millionaires who, according to reports in Reader’s Digest and The Washington Post, are funding the pro-pot movement in America. This dangerous group includes billionaire financier George Soros, Peter Lewis, CEO of Cleveland-based Progressive Auto Insurance company, and John Sperling, president of the Apollo Group, a holding company that controls for-profit universities and job-training centers.

The Washington Post also reported on June 3, 2002, about pollster John Zogby, who does the legalizers’ dirty work by polling the on-line mailing list of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), the most pro-pot group operating in the country today. For every 500 registrants MPP supplies to Mr. Zogby, he places a marijuana polling question for MPP in one of his nationwide polls — both online and via traditional telephone survey methods. When you survey the potheads, you expect to get high percentages of support for pot.

Pushing drugs and pushing misinformation are both very dangerous. Recently, after a vigorous lobbying effort by drug legalizers, 125 members of Congress voted to support MPP’s “medical pot” myth. The vote was taken on the same day the largest medical malpractice insurance company, Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Co., announced in the U.S. Capitol, it “excludes experimental drugs and those not commonly in use because we are covering what is consistent with accepted standards of care. We don’t want to be on the hook for drugs that don’t have FDA approval.” This would include marijuana. Is it any wonder the public is confused?



Drug-Free Kids: America’s Challenge

Silver Spring301-681-7861

Nalepka was President of Nancy Reagan’s National Federation of Parents during the Reagan Administration. She also cosponsored legislation that closed Maryland’s drug paraphernalia shops.

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