- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 7, 2000

Gore foreign policy slip goes unnoticed

How disappointing that The Washington Times failed to print the presidential candidates' replies during the Boston debate to the one question dealing with foreign policy.

Vice President Al Gore criticized George W. Bush when the Texas governor suggested using the Russians to step into the Balkans and convince Slobodan Milosevic it's in his best interest to leave office. Mr. Gore, in his bullying style, rebutted Mr. Bush with "since Russia has not yet been willing to recognize Vojislav Kostunica as the lawful winner of the election, I'm not so sure that it's right for us to invite the president of Russia to mediate this dispute there, because we might not like the result that comes out of that."

However, to Jim Lehrer's query to recall a time when either candidate had the opportunity to address an emergency situation, Mr. Gore used Kosovo. What made Mr. Gore's reply worth noting is that he said he had invited Russian Prime Minister Viktor Chernomyrdin to his home to encourage Russia to take a lead role in mediating the conflict between the Serbs and Kosovars.

It appears that Mr. Gore is trying to have it only his way. It was fine to call on the Russians in one instance (to mediate the war), but when Mr. Bush suggested the Russians intervene in the election, it was not such a good idea. Mr. Gore's attempt to belittle the governor's grasp of foreign affairs failed, and the media should have noted Mr. Gore's flip-flop.

Mr. Bush handled Mr. Gore's smarminess well, replying "Well, obviously we would not use the Russians if they didn't agree with our answer, Mr. vice-president."

Where were Mr. Gore's supposed debate credentials?

MILDRED M. FISCHER

Fredericksburg, Va.

United States shares Israel's weakened national resolve

Thank you for your well spun editorial on the recent violence in Israel ("A shattered peace," Oct. 4). You did not mention, however, the likelihood that Yasser Arafat believed violence to be the right strategy at this time, since Israel's resolve has been weakened so seriously by her own anti-Zionist Jewish intellectuals since 1960 as was pointed out early this year in Yoram Hazony's "The Jewish State: The Struggle for Israel's Soul."

That same internationalist ideology which has been destroying systematically the values, culture, and basic unity of the Israeli Jews as a people has also been doing exactly the same thing to the United States. Jean Jacques Rousseau the patron saint of the internationalists may yet succeed in persuading the world to submit to the tyranny of a single totalitarian world government, per the universal social-contract state.

FRANK CONNER

Newnan, Ga.

Import legislation would bring in bad medicine

Thank you for the Commentary Forum article by former Food and Drug Administration commissioners Jere E. Goyan and Frank E. Young warning against legislation that would allow the importation of drugs ("Opening the cap on Pandora's drug bottle?", Oct. 1). It should be added that, besides Mr. Goyan and Mr. Young, every living former FDA commissioner since 1969, a total of 11, have publicly stated their opposition to the importation of prescription drugs. According to these former commissioners, the importation of drugs poses grave risks for American patients since it lowers safety standards.

I certainly want inexpensive prescription drugs for our senior citizens. But we should not sacrifice safety merely to save a few dollars. It is the heat of the election season and this quick fix can do extensive harm to seniors by bringing on the market dangerous, adulterated and/or counterfeit medicines. Congress needs to reject these amendments, which have been added as riders to appropriations bills without hearings or testimony from experts.

We must guarantee safe prescription drugs, especially for our senior citizens.

JAMES L. MARTIN

President

60 Plus Association

Washington

McCain product liability bill will create E.U.-style catastrophe

Americans are ignorant of circumstances beyond our shores, and especially the European Union's product directives for most consumer and industrial goods. While many in the manufacturing industries are quite aware of the requirements, there is a hesitancy to make them known because of the United State's propensity for litigation. Manufacturers hope to avoid opening a can of worms. However, after reading about the McCain bill in the Oct. 4 editorial "Arrest the Glitch," I could only think we are headed in the same direction.

One of the EU directives in force since Jan. 1, 1995 is the Machinery Safety Directive (89/392/EEC and 91/368/EEC) and applies to most commercial equipment such as lifts, commercial laundry equipment and restaurant food preparation machines, to name a few. (There are directives for toys, medical devices, construction materials, furniture, electronics devices, etc.) A close analogy to this directives system might be the American Society for Testing Materials standards or the Consumer Product Safety Commission standards. However, the differences emerge in the manner in which the EU directives impose design requirements enhancing safety. The designer is required to first design out all risk, or if that is not possible, to guard or interlock the equipment to minimize the risk. Where there is still any risk remaining, the designer may resort to warnings (labels, audible warnings, etc.) of the risk, but only as a last resort.

In addition to the usual risks associated with operating powered equipment, the designer is also required to anticipate the wrong way in which the equipment could be used or operated. When designing and constructing machinery, the manufacturer must envisage not only the normal use of the machinery but also uses which could reasonably be expected. The machinery must be designed to prevent abnormal use if such use would engender a risk.

So what's the big deal? Also required by the directives are the Technical Construction File and Declaration of Conformity. The technical construction file is the design and production engineers' records of all efforts to design the equipment with attending tests and results to demonstrate conformity to the requirements of the directives, i.e., what risks were identified and how the design eliminated or mitigated them. It is required to be maintained for at least 10 years after the last of the specific item has been produced/manufactured. It also is used to support the assertions that the item(s) are in conformity with the directives which then allow the Declaration of Conformity to be issued.

The Declaration of Conformity must be signed by an executive of the company for the product to bear the CE marking and to be sold in the EU member nations. The executive is subject to personal civil and criminal penalties if the equipment fails to meet the directive's requirements once in the EU.

If you think this has little significance in the United States, go to any toy store and look for a rounded CE mark on the packaging of most toys. Look on the back of most electronics equipment. I recently purchased a vacuum cleaner, and in the instructions booklet were the Declaration of Conformity, and the vacuum bears the CE mark. Given that all design records for anything bearing a CE mark must be retained for 10 years plus, and that these records are subject to the rules of discovery, I would think the McCain legislation would just muddy further the waters of product liability, and make manufacturers more reluctant to make improvements or bring new products to market. We really don't need to go any further down this road.

RICHARD CONOVER

Nashville, Tenn.

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