Should the armed forces be free to enlist foreign-born recruits who are not already U.S. citizens or permanent residents? I’ve argued so on multiple occasions (see here, here, and here) because I think this would be a terrific way to expand the pool of high-quality, eligible soldiers and provide a new path toward citizenship for many aspiring Americans, while also expanding the foreign-area expertise of our armed forces.
Ruben Navarrette, Jr., a member of the San Diego Union-Tribune editorial board, disagrees. He has written a column, posted on CNN’s website, which argues against “turning illegal immigrants into cannon fodder.” To make his case, he cites Jose Carranza, an illegal immigrant from Peru who has been accused of crimes ranging from child rape to murder. “If half the things they say about this creep are true,” Navarrette writes, “Carranza belongs on death row. But guess what? He sure doesn’t belong on an Army recruitment poster, or handling heavy artillery.”
I was thinking of replying to this specious argument when I received an email from Margaret Stock, a military reservist and attorney who is an associate professor at West Point, pointing out the flaws with Navarrette’s logic better than I could. She agreed to let me share her letter with contentions readers:
Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi suggested on Sunday that dialogue with Hamas might help the Islamist terror organization “evolve.” It was not immediately clear what Prodi meant by “evolution” through “dialogue,” though his spokesman was quick to explain that in no way was the Prime Minister calling for a reversal of EU policy—which keeps Hamas on the EU terror list and shuns the organization.
The Italian government has been flip-flopping on the matter for the last few weeks. Foreign Minister Massimo D’Alema voiced discomfort at the policy of isolation, and warned against “giving Hamas to al Qaeda.” A few days before, the leader of D’Alema’s party, Piero Fassino, had suggested the need for a strategy for dealing with Hamas. Fassino used ambiguous language that implied the need for dialogue; yet, after a visit to Israel with Socialist International, Fassino has since retreated from his statement. Meanwhile, D’Alema has also backtracked somewhat, noting in a parliamentary address on July 24 that he “never suggested that the international community open direct negotiations with Hamas,” and that he meant only to highlight “the need to encourage a return to a Palestinian process of national reconciliation.”
Yesterday was a happy day in selected parts of Havana—Cuba’s leader turned 81. Fidel has been ailing, and his younger brother Raul, who is also the defense minister, has been the head of a caretaker government since July 31, 2006. Many suspect the elder Castro, who once had the stamina to give ten-hour speeches, will never regain the strength to run his homeland.
Fidel has resisted economic liberalization of any kind, but for several years he has acknowledged that change is coming. At the beginning of this decade, CNN quoted El Maximo Lider as saying, “I believe that the ideals of socialism, which are so generous and appeal so much to solidarity and fraternity, will one day disappear.”
The general assumption is that socialism in Cuba will disappear when Fidel leaves this world to visit Marx. There are already reports that Raul has moved to push the island’s Soviet-like economy in the direction of Chinese-style reform. The accounts appear plausible if only because every outside observer believes that things must change soon.
While we in the West are always optimistic when communist nations change their leaders, we are usually disappointed by the reality of the change. Today, we have to remember that, despite all our hopes, political repression has gotten worse under the younger Castro’s watch.
So what will America do when Raul finally takes over? Let’s try something different; our current approach to Cuba is obviously not working. American policy is hostile enough to give the Castro brothers an enemy—something all communist tyrants need—but not threatening enough actually to get rid of their repugnant regime. No wonder Fidel is the world’s longest serving national leader.
We could try to kill Cuban communism by swamping it with consumer goods, or by tightening the embargo. The point is that change must come to Havana, and that Washington’s perspective on Cuba must change.
Last week, I wrote about one example of those who blame the West for Africa’s problems. I disputed the claim that the wide suspicion among many Africans about Western medicine can be laid at the feet of a handful of “Western medical miscreants.” This week brings another pertinent instance of this tired intellectual practice.
Over the past seven years, Zimbabwean dictator Robert Mugabe has destroyed his once-prosperous country. Kicking white farmers off their land, he has turned a country that once exported food into one where most of the people are starving. Upon the death of COMMENTARY contributor Jeane Kirkpatrick last year, I wrote that the tragic trajectory of Zimbabwe from authoritarian to totalitarian rule proved her thesis on “Dictatorships & Double Standards” to be correct.
What does South Africa—which neighbors Zimbabwe and has absorbed millions of its refugees—have to say about this catastrophe? Nothing, according to the dictates of President Mbeki’s “quiet diplomacy.” But now, according to a leaked South African government report, we find the true culprit in all of this mess: Great Britain.
Are reporters above the law? Should they be?
We have lately been running laps around this block in connection with the 2005 leak of the NSA terrorist surveillance program and the 2003 exposure of Valerie Plame’s CIA status. The first of these two episodes did not land any reporters into trouble, but a federal grand jury is still hearing evidence in the case and there was movement in it last month. The second led to Judith Miller of the New York Times being put in the slammer by a court. There she remained for 85 days, until she disgorged the identity of her confidential source: Scooter Libby.
Another issue is now compelling us to running around the block yet again: the anthrax attacks of 2001 that killed five people. Steven J. Hatfill, the bioterrorism expert who was named in the media as a suspect, has brought a civil suit against the government for violating his rights under the Privacy Act. In order to demonstrate how the government trampled on his privacy, Hatfill wants to obtain the notes of journalists who received disparaging information about him from confidential sources in the FBI and Justice Department.