Friday, April 9, 2004

Lest ye be judged

How dare the archbishop of Boston judge another person’s conscience (“Politics cloud Kerry’s Easter plans,” Page 1, Monday)? To declare that a politician is in a “state of grave sin” if he supports a pro-choice position on abortion and to deny communion to that person — as he apparently would do in the case of John Kerry — is theological nonsense. Sin exists only in the conscience, and only the individual can make the determination as to whether or not he has sinned.

Archbishop Sean O’Malley, like many other prelates, confuses pro-choice with pro-abortion; they are not the same. Pro-choice merely affirms the right of an individual to elect whether or not to sin. If one truly believes in freedom of conscience and freedom of will (as Christians supposedly do), pro-choice becomes a neutral position, neither supporting nor opposing abortion, but leaving it to the individual to make the choice that conforms with her or his own conscience.

No person, whatever his rank, has the right to judge the state of another person’s conscience.


Glen Burnie, Md.

It was a bloody week

The explosive violence in Iraq this week has only hardened my belief that we were wrong to go in there (“Marines secure part of Fallujah,” Page 1, Thursday).

Doesn’t the Bush administration read our newspapers or its own spinning statements?

Blunder after blunder is the hallmark of the Bush administration in our invasion of Iraq. I’m tired of some telling us the blame game is over and that we need to focus on where we are now. Why? What about responsibility? Accountability? What about the truth?


Buena Vista, Pa.


Arnold Beichman’s column recounted a long history of Iraqi atrocities, mutilations, etc. of the kind seen last week in Fallujah (“Ferocious face of Fallujah,” Commentary, Tuesday). I just skimmed through Richard Engel’s book, “A Fist in the Hornet’s Nest: On the Ground in Baghdad Before, During, and After the War.” It tells of his time reporting from Iraq for ABC and recounts an episode in which Iraqis came across the body of an American soldier and videotaped its beheading. They then happily displayed the head all around for all to see. Consider, too, the barbarous murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl in Pakistan and Palestinian murders in which even young children dip their hands in the blood of victims to display to all. Also, there are the public beheadings and amputations in Saudi Arabia. It is a violent area and culture with no hope of power-sharing or democracy per the neoconservative fantasy. After the mutilation and dismembering, etc. in Mogadishu, Somalia, in 1993, one American there said basically that these people don’t want peace, they want victory. It seems we are the only ones who want peace.

T.E. Lawrence spoke from his experience when he said Arab governments were tyrannies drenched in blood.

They have to fix that; we can’t.


Charlottesville, Va.

America’s other army

Nicholas Kralev’s sixth article in his series on today’s Foreign Service (“Embassy bombings spur security boost,” Page 1, Monday) is another important contribution to better understanding by the public of “America’s other Army” — the Foreign Service of the United States. He deserves our thanks.

This article, on diplomatic security, includes a comment by the deputy security officer in New Delhi noting the critical need for cooperation from host governments if embassy security is to be effective. Those of us taken hostage by student terrorists in Tehran in 1979 occupied a chancery building with security arrangements sufficient, in our view, to dub it “Fort Apache.”

All that security proved useless, however, when the terrorists overran the place; despite prior assurances from the government then in power, it proved unable or willing to respond.


Ambassador Laingen was the senior hostage during the Iran hostage crisis 1979 to 1981.


Kerry’s gas crusade

Sen. John Kerry’s drive to spare the world from the horrors of automobility by decreasing its availability and affordability is not limited to his votes to force us into smaller cars and increase gas taxes, or to musings about even higher tax increases (“Kerry: Raise the gas tax,” Editorial, Tuesday). Candidate Kerry claims to support the Kyoto Protocol, although, of course, Sen. Kerry wisely joined his unanimous colleagues in voting against it in July 1997. Kyoto, according to Europe’s Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom, is designed to “get people out of their cars” (and to “level the playing field for big businesses worldwide,” as the priceless Mrs. Wallstrom also famously said). Already this year, Mr. Kerry has voted for Senate Bill 139, a bill to begin implementing Kyoto’s regime.

Political expedience has led Mr. Kerry merely to thunder that he would return the United States to the negotiating table in order to resolve the Kyoto impasse. Two points are critical. First, Kyoto fell apart on President Clinton’s watch, in November 2000 at the negotiations in The Hague, where Mr. Kerry was a member of the U.S. delegation. There, a too-clever European Union attempted to take advantage of a Bill Clinton-Al Gore team desperate over the ongoing Florida recount, refusing to take yes for an answer and instead continuously seeking to tighten the screws on the United States. The BBC quite plainly blamed — surprise — the French. Second, Mrs. Wallstrom remains on record as refusing any compromise, insisting that “there is no ‘Plan B’ ” and that it is her way or (continued freedom to use) the highway.

Finally, though Mr. Kerry may not have invented the Internet, the State Department Web site is sufficiently user-friendly that it is absurd for a senator, particularly a senior member of the Foreign Relations Committee, to assert that the United States has withdrawn from the Kyoto negotiations. In fact, as Mr. Kerry also must know, the Bush administration has reduced neither the size nor the frequency of U.S. delegations to the annual climate talks, even including the session in Milan in December 2003. Regardless, Mr. Kerry’s affection for Kyoto-style energy rationing and affectation of a crusade to reverse steps never taken is his most driver-unfriendly position.


Senior fellow

Competitive Enterprise Institute


If becoming president doesn’t work out …

Insightful reporter Rowan Scarborough’s article “Iran, Hezbollah support al-Sadr,” (Page 1, Wednesday) turns out to be only half of the story. Support for this menace also extends to presidential aspirant John F. Kerry. In Sen. Kerry’s interview Wednesday with National Public Radio, he referred to Sheik Muqtada al-Sadr as a “legitimate voice” in Iraq in spite of this villain’s whipping up an uprising that has killed about 20 of our brave soldiers. Then, in a midstream half-gainer that would have made former President Bill Clinton proud, Mr. Kerry quickly changed direction by adding, “Well, let me … change the term ‘legitimate.’ ”

Mr. Kerry didn’t stop there, however. Once again promoting the notion of outsourcing of our government to the United Nations, and in keeping with French and German positions, Mr. Kerry commented: “If all we do is make war against the Iraqi people and continue an American occupation, fundamentally, without a clarity as to who and how sovereignty is being turned over, we have a very serious problem for the long run here.”

I don’t take Mr. Kerry’s presidential aspirations lightly, but given this myopic worldview, I wonder if he is also auditioning for the job of commentator on CNN or Al-Jazeera, just in case.


Champlin, Minn.

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