Sunday, October 26, 2008

Letters to the Washington Post, #13 & 14

Two more letters to the Post that never had a fleeting moment of celebrity.

It shouldn't come as a surprise to me that, if I wait a while to actually post the letters myself, I have difficulty remembering why I thought what I was writing about mattered. But it does surprise me.

#13, The Nukes of India, 10/04/08

On balance, Senate approval of the Bush administration's nuclear trade agreement with India is probably a good deal. The Post's story("Senate Backs Far-Reaching Nuclear Trade Deal With India," Oct. 2) provides a decent summary of the details, but fails to follow the big financial interests presumably involved in getting to yes.

As the story notes, India will spend $14 billion next year to buy reactors, equipment and fuel. Total Indian purchases could total hundreds of billions over the next 20 years. Large business interests such as General Electric and Westinghouse, which stand to capture a portion of the sales to India, undoubtedly played a role in passing the bill.

No attentive reader could reach a final conclusion about the agreement without also knowing what such private interests did and how much they spent to secure approval of the trade agreement.

Jeff Epton
Brookland, WDC
202 506-7470

#14, Time-tested Surge?, 10/24/08

The assumption of the success of the surge in Iraq, celebrated everywhere, including the pages of the Post (e.g. Michael Gerson, “Casualty of the Surge” and Charles Krauthammer, “McCain for President,” both Oct. 24), may not stand the test of time. The increased stability of the Iraqi state, if it actually exists, may turn out to be a fleeting thing.

Former Fed chair Alan Greenspan thought he was on a roll, too. But his celebrity bubble burst with the collapse of home values, banks and Wall Street firms.

In Iraq, we are making regular multi-million dollar payments to tribal leaders and their militias to get them on our side, or, at least, to cease fire. When those payments stop, as they will, the surge likely fails. Of course, we could stay in Iraq for 100 years or so, but that’s another story.

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