- The Washington Times - Saturday, January 22, 2000

Greenpeace's problem with research a whale of a tale

The Washington Times article on Greenpeace and whales underscores serious questions of truth, misguided philosophy and blatant cultural racism on the part of a self-styled "environmental" group ("Greenpeace fights for whales," World, Jan. 17).

Greenpeace is well aware that that the research conducted by the Japanese is perfectly legal under the International Convention for the Regulation of Whaling but continues to cry wolf that this activity is "illegal whaling," obviously to curry uninformed popular support. Another fact well-known to Greenpeace is that the population of the minke whales in Antarctic waters is over 750,000 and is 1 million strong worldwide. Continuing research, not a media circus, is needed to determine such issues as what impact large cetacean populations have on other marine resources and other whale species like the endangered blue whale.

Finally, Greenpeace seeks to impose its cultural preferences through active interference with legal activity because it does not believe in the consumptive use of any renewable marine mammal resources. How would one of its members react if other cultures attempted to interfere with beef production or obstruct the pork industry by seeking to impose different philosophies on our culture? Island and coastal nations have harvested whales for human consumption for centuries with no harm to that renewable resource: Only commercial whale oil interests caused harm to whale resources. That is now history. Today, almost all whale stocks such as the minke are abundant and growing to such an extent that predation by whales on the ocean fisheries is about eight times that taken by all commercial fisherman in the world.

Greenpeace's activity may make good copy, but it cannot stand objective scrutiny.

STEPHEN S. BOYNTON

President

International Foundation for the Conservation of Natural Resources

Vienna

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The activities of Greenpeace described in the article belie the fact that its campaign against Japan's whale research program in the Antarctic continues to mislead and misinform the public for fund-raising purposes.

If Greenpeace told the truth about whales and whaling, public contributions to the organizations would be substantially reduced. Further, if Greenpeace told the truth about whales and whaling, the public would know that most whales are not endangered, that Japan's whale research program in the Antarctic is perfectly legal and has a sound scientific basis and that it is possible to resume commercial whaling in a sustainable manner. But this classic Greenpeace campaign has not told the truth about whales and whaling. The anti-whaling rhetoric of Greenpeace and others not only ignores the facts but also ignores the need for increased respect and understanding of social and cultural differences. It is cultural imperialism and racist for those opposed to the utilization of whale resources to impose their views on others.

Apparently, for Greenpeace, the facts don't matter and they do not have to be accountable to their donating public, but surely the apparent willingness of the press to cover this emotive story based solely on information from the slick public relations office of Greenpeace shows significant contempt for balanced, accurate reporting. The outcome of this issue should not depend on public relations. It should be determined on the basis of the now universally accepted principles of scientifically based sustainable use of resources.

DAN GOODMAN

The Institute of Cetacean Research

Tokyo

Why children suffer under the 'best interests' legal standard

Thank you for the column by Maggie Gallagher that questioned the wisdom of the "best interests of the child" legal standard ("Justice on the scales of best interests," Commentary, Jan. 14). When I have asserted, in polite conversation, that this standard is at the root of the racket we call family law, the response is as if I was advocating child abuse for fun and profit.

The "best interests" standard is not really a standard at all, and that is why it cannot be applied justly. For other legal standards, such as "beyond a reasonable doubt," the basic assumption is that reasonable people applying the standard can come to an agreement.

Reasonable people, however, cannot agree on what is best for children. Happily married parents debate these issues daily without agreement. "Best interests" cannot be a legal standard because reasonable people cannot agree on its meaning.

Is it better for the child to be rich or poor? Is it better for the child to be raised by a man or woman? Is it better for a child to rarely see one parent? Shall we apply the standards of a particular judge, or a psychologist applying the latest fad theory or the beliefs of a particular religious doctrine? Is it in the best interests of a child for one or both parents to be miserable? Reasonable people disagree about these issues.

Society has evolved a way to make determinations about how to raise a child. It is called a family.

With the advent of easy divorce, we have turned this responsibility over to the courts. Unfortunately, the judicial system has no way of making fair judgments and, consequently, we are forcing judges to behave arbitrarily.

How often do judges sit family litigants down and tell them to work out a compromise? Almost never. How often do judges say, if you cannot find a way of financing the divorce, maybe you cannot have one; if you cannot find a way for the children to have the benefits of both parents debating what is best for them, maybe you cannot have one?

Many people are calling for family law reform. Unless new laws use standards that are determinable and yield judgments that are enforceable, we will only create more chaos and pain.

JEFFREY R. LAPIDES

Annapolis

Confused arguments about Kashmir and hijacking

In his attempt to gain support for the cause of Kashmiri independence, Ghulam Nabi Fai only succeeds in making the same confused argument that already has been proffered by people of a less defined bias ("The Indian air hijacking and Kashmir's future," Forum, Jan. 16).

His rejection of the terrorist hijacking in the name of Kashmiri independence calling it "criminal, brutal and sinful" is commendable, but sadly, he and the rest of Kashmir's independence-minded leaders pay only lip service to this sentiment.

Mr. Fai is quick to point out that India has 700,000 troops stationed in Jammu and Kashmir (a gross overestimate), but he neglects to explain that their deployment comes as a direct result of the Islamic war being waged against India.

The most recent illustration of this was the hijacking of an Indian Airlines jet, which ended only after the Indian government chose not to answer violence with violence and released three known terrorists from incarceration.

Finally, Mr. Fai wrongly seeks to compare the incomparable in his condemnation of India's human rights record in the region.

India is subject to and complies with all international norms in human rights reporting, be they by independent human rights groups, the State Department or the free, international news media. Unfortunately, the illegitimate governments in Pakistan and Afghanistan, along with the amorphous terrorists based in these countries, by their very nature have immunized themselves from all norms of international conduct.

It is beyond dispute that today in Kashmir, more innocent civilians are killed in the onslaught of the Islamic militants supposedly fighting for their freedom than by Indian security forces. Just earlier this month, when a bomb exploded in a Srinagar market and killed two Indian soldiers, 14 Kashmiris perished as well.

Perhaps if Mr. Fai wishes to produce results instead of martyrs then he and the All-Parties Hurriyet Conference should systematically reject the hurtful actions of their terrorist brethren.

The only way dialogue can begin, and Mr. Fai can obtain a seat at the negotiating table, is if the violence abates. Until both sides understand this, no progress will be made and no third party will be willing to mediate a seemingly intractable debate.

MERVYN DYMALLY

Washington

Mervyn Dymally is a retired congressman.

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