- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 18, 1999

Not all of the candidates being heard at the debates


Some are questioning the legitimacy of a presidential candidacy by anyone not well-known or well-financed. Aside from denying voters access to candidates who just might be well-informed, well-intentioned and well-prepared for public office, this philosophy helps perpetuate the distinctly undemocratic myth that one candidate can lead any other candidate before the casting of ballots.
Having only six candidates onstage for the recent New Hampshire debates was not fair because 14 persons have filed as Republican presidential candidates for the New Hampshire primary. Where in the Constitution does it say that the viability of a candidacy is determined by the press and the two major parties?
Thirty of the official Republican and Democratic candidates who have filed in New Hampshire have been invited to present their ideas at www.electionusa.org. The voters can then decide.
CHARLES HATHAWAY
President and founder
ElectionUSA
Tenafly, N.J.

The fight for women’s suffrage in Kuwait will continue


Your Dec. 12 editorial “Kuwait’s fizzled bombshell” sizzled, but it lacked scope in its arguments. Emir Sheik Jaber Ahmad Sabah had given women the right to vote and hold political office in June, but the editorial faulted him without qualification because the Parliament failed by a narrow two-vote margin to ratify his decree. As a result of Kuwait’s balance of power, the top executive cannot always get his way. Observers focused on the legislative process, and not just this outcome, at least paused to give Parliament praise for not wielding a rubber stamp. I suspect that The Washington Times otherwise would categorically argue that a legislative counterweight is a good thing for a country to have.
Many Kuwaitis like myself are truly saddened that women didn’t get their political rights this time around. Among them are the prime minister and deputy prime minister, who announced they will push this bill until it passes. Just as with the American experience, the rights of Kuwaiti women won’t arrive effortlessly or overnight. The ongoing formation of a pro-suffrage organization will add momentum to their activism. But when suffrage happens and I remain confident that it will Kuwait will be better off that it resulted from dialogue, from debate and from a parliamentary majority based on societal consensus rather than an executive edict or international pressure.
Furthermore, falsely characterizing Kuwait as unappreciative of the staunch U.S.-Kuwaiti friendship erected an impossible hurdle. How can Kuwait express appreciation commensurate with the allies’ Gulf War efforts? This comment deeply pained me and other Kuwaitis who feel good will toward the United States gratitude symbolized by the pro-American graffiti still on the walls of Kuwait’s U.S. Embassy.
Especially callous was the suggestion that Iraqi forces massing on the border might have changed Parliament’s vote. This statement was grossly insensitive to the severe threat Saddam Hussein poses not only to Kuwaitis, but to the U.S. troops on our border. It also belittled Kuwait’s democratic process and sovereign status. Kuwait and the United States have a mutually beneficial relationship based on choice, not coercion. It is a multifaceted relationship transcending Kuwait’s U.N. votes, which flow from a complex assessment of many regional and global factors.
Last, the editorial criticized me for an incorrect political prediction I made six months ago on this issue. I wish I had been called again for an up-to-date assessment. I can only say now that it is challenging to predict the political future of Kuwait or America two countries with diffuse centers of power because prognosticating is so frequently wrong.
SHAFEEQ N. GHABRA
Director
Kuwait Information Office
Washington


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