Thursday, January 1, 2004

Saddam’s legacy and North Korea

Our policy of prevention (“A Policy of prevention,” Op-Ed, Tuesday) may set a good example for some countries, but other countries will get the wrong idea, and as Saddam Hussein imperfectly proved, the suicide bomber has gone international.

Saddam was the most effective “suicide bomber” in the Middle East. He spent years terrorizing people, both at home and abroad, but his actions ultimately led to his own demise. He was able to inflict massive casualties on his own people but proved to be a suicidal bluffer against the rest of the world when it was discovered that he was lying.

He bluffed to the point of his own extinction. Turns out his weapon of mass destruction was simply his own credibility against the world. The United States found him credible and decided we had to take out the threat of a future war in which he would employ WMDs, which turned out to be phantom.

We not only brought down his regime, but are bringing down the dominoes. We proved our prowess at the game of chicken, and we have countries caving right and left. We demonstrated credible deterrence against the rest of the world in taking out Saddam, including in his own bad neighborhood. Already, Libya has caved at the real possibility of our taking out Moammar Gadhafi and his regime, and Iran is making overtures.

In other neighborhoods, though, we may need other countries to deter the threat of WMDs. For example, North Korea poses a supranational suicidal threat and actually possesses nuclear weapons. Our conquest of Iraq threatens North Korea, which believes in our capacity to follow through on threats and, paradoxically, is defending itself against us. It seems that short of our swearing off attacking it in exchange for promissory notes, the only vulnerability that North Korea has could be China.

So what can we do about Kim Jong-il? Pressing for multilateral rather than bilateral talks is a start. But we cannot expect to get anything in return from the intransigent outlaw state. We need serious negotiations with China. We need China to convince North Korea that economic aid will end if the latter does not verifiably forswear possession of WMDs. After all, a pacified, fat North Korea is in China’s best interest. If North Korea goes belly-up, China will be faced with a potentially destabilizing refugee crisis. In addition, China contends with the possibility of loose nukes leaving North Korea destined, for example, for Muslim Uighurs in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, whom the Chinese, rightly or not, have labeled a terrorist group.

The key to the Middle East is the United States, and the key to North Korea is China. So far, we are doing our part, but we need those extra ounces of pre-emption from China to eliminate the suicidal madman who has the capability of destroying others while he destroys himself.


Falls Church

Furry thinking

FurCommissionUSA,, represents the mink farmers in the United States who produce the pelts for the garments keeping everyone warm this winter. We were distressed by the letter from a PETA “staff writer” attempting to justify PETA’s latest repugnant campaign (“PETA’s anti-fur campaign,” Monday).

This campaign includes fliers with the cartoon of a crazed woman inhumanely killing a frightened rabbit and is designed to pit child against mother. The flier also includes a good dose of sexism against trappers and wildlife managers, who are predominantly male, with a reference to “nasty men in boots” who trap animals.

Most adults and children know that humans are dependent on animals for our food and clothing and that every natural fiber comes from something that was once living, raised or caught, and yes, killed, generally by someone wearing boots, most likely made of leather. PETAphiles refuse to recognize this “circle of life,” ignore the fact that cruelty to animals, in any form, is already a crime and attempt to vilify those who feed and clothe us. PETA’s Web site even urges children to throw tomatoes at those who choose to wear natural fibers (over synthetics made from oil), as if assault were some sort of game.

While most of us choose naturalfibersforourwinter wardrobes, we don’t support attacking those wearing synthetics. PETA needs to remember that, while waging a war of words during this season of peace and good will, we must remember to honor our parents and that bearing false witness against our neighbor remains a sin.

Dress warmly. It’s cold outside.


Executive director

Fur Commission USA

Coronado, Calif.

Veggie burgers, anyone?

In reference to the recent dialogue concerning mad cow disease and the safety of U.S. beef (“Mad cow triggers safety measures,” Page 1, Wednesday): Little did I realize when I toured a cattle slaughterhouse as a trainee veterinarian several years ago that something considerably more sinister than the stench of blood might have been permeating my nostrils. The meat inspectors, who spent less than three seconds confirming the safety of each carcass, appeared similarly unsuspecting.

Little did I realize, as I watched workers deftly carving up still-warm cows with their band saws, that those same band saws were aerosoling tiny fragments of spinal cord, contaminating the surrounding meat. A recent study found that band saws, routinely used in American slaughterhouses, contaminated 100 percent of the carcasses tested with nervous-system tissue, the most likely source of mad cow disease and its deadly human equivalent.

Why am I not reassured by Department of Agriculture promises about the safety of our beef? Perhaps it is because a 2002 department survey showed that about 35 percent of high-risk meat products included nervous-system tissue. Beef stock, beef extract and beef flavoring are all made by boiling skeletal remains, including the vertebral column, and spinal tissue also may be found in hot dogs, hamburgers, pizza toppings and taco fillings.

However, consumer warnings would decrease sales, and contrary to expert advice, the department chose not to require them. The department’s assurances that about 20,000 slaughtered cows were tested for mad cow disease in 2003 are similarly a joke, because for every cow tested, more than 1,700 were not. Unlike the Europeans, who test every at-risk animal and burn the most dangerous tissue in incinerators, we test only rarely and feed nervous tissue to chickens and pigs. The Department of Agriculture can say what it likes, but I, for one, will be stocking up on veggie burgers.



U.S.-Pakistani relations

Thank you very much for the show of support for Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf (“Support Musharraf,” Editorials, Wednesday).

On Sept. 19, 2001, Gen. Musharraf went on television to inform the people of Pakistan that their country would be standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States in the campaign against the Taliban and the al Qaeda terrorist network. Since then, Pakistani security forces remain and are fully engaged in the war against terrorists and Taliban elements in the border regions of Pakistan and have captured more than 500 al Qaeda operatives.

It is crucial that the cooperation between the United States and Pakistan should be further strengthened. The countries have a history of bilateral relationship going back to 1947.

The Pakistani government and the people of Pakistan show their solidarity toward their old friend, the United States, and no doubt, will continue to step up their efforts to facilitate the United States’ war on terrorism.


Association of Pakistani Professionals

Kew Gardens, N.Y.

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