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Wednesday, November 13, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Opinion >  Editorial

Past opinions provide perspective

Snake River dams, Nov. 9, 1936

The S-R editorial board opined on the idea of making Lewiston a seaport by constructing dams on the lower Snake River. An editorial approvingly quoted Herbert G. West, executive vice president of the Inland Empire Waterways Association:

“ ‘What is needed is the vision of a developed river. The ocean extended inward would result in materially lower freight rates.’ ”

The editorial continued: “By the term ‘a developed river’ he means commercial, competitive water transportation on the Columbia and the Snake, to a head of navigation at Lewiston. That is to be achieved, he said, through ‘power generation at dams that will bring ocean vessels virtually to our doors, stimulate both industrial and agricultural development, and improve the social life of the territory served.’ ”

The feared opponent was the railroad industry, which stood to lose business. The editorial called for open competition.

Iran-Contra, Nov. 11, 1986

As news of the Iran-Contra scandal grew, the White House tried to blame the media for upsetting delicate negotiations. The S-R editorial board wasn’t buying it.

“Just as it did during the Watergate era when Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew specialized in it, such blame-the-media rhetoric ought to make the American people suspicious.”

It went to to say: “At the same time the president and Secretary of State George Shultz were lambasting terrorism, trumpeting their unwillingness to negotiate with hostage-takers and urging other nations to impose sanctions on such terrorist havens as Libya and Syria, the White House was covertly kow-towing to the spiritual leader of world terrorism: Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini.

“The White House National Security Council has for 18 months been negotiating with Iran. And the council didn’t merely negotiate; it sent ransom, in the form of secret arms shipments to Iran.”

Rumsfeld resigns, Nov. 11, 2006

In the aftermath of the midterm elections. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld resigned. The editorial board saw this as a hopeful sign.

“Exit polls listed the war and a string of ethical stumbles under the Republican majority in the House of Representatives as primary reasons that voters gave Democrats clear control of the House.”

It continued: “Rumsfeld was the architect of the failed strategy in Iraq and the primary target of criticism, an increasing amount of which was coming from American military leaders, both retired and active. ‘It is one thing for the majority of Americans to think Rumsfeld has failed,’ the pro-military private publication Army Times editorialized Saturday. ‘But when the nation’s current military leaders start to break publicly with their defense secretary, then it is clear that he is losing control of the institution he ostensibly leads.’

“In the face of clear evidence to the contrary, Rumsfeld defended the thin deployment of manpower as adequate to do the job that still isn’t getting done. He insisted on breaking up Iraq’s previous security forces, leaving the country without trained personnel to assume responsibility for order in their own turbulent nation.”

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