- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 18, 2001

USAID's record speaks for itself

In response to "Plugging the AID pipeline," James Bovard's Feb. 13 Commentary column, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) is, in fact, a central instrument of U.S. national security, advancing U.S. foreign policy in 114 countries, reducing the potential for conflict and improving the quality of life for millions.

Our results speak for themselves.

In the countries in which we have worked, literacy has risen by almost 50 percent. Infant mortality has been cut in half. Elected democracies have risen dramatically, most notably in the countries of the former Soviet bloc. The percentage of people living in absolute poverty has been cut almost in half. And former USAID recipient countries are now strong partners with the United States in trade and investment.

Delivering effective U.S. foreign assistance is certainly in the national interests of the United States. It is important to help other countries solve the problems of poverty and disease that undermine the peace and prosperity of the world and, ultimately, our own nation.

In July 1989, then-President Bush pledged American support to the cause of Polish democracy and economic freedom. Today, Poland is a success story for foreign assistance. Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic, all former aid recipients, are Central Europe's economic leaders, members of NATO and the first in line for membership in the European Union.

Poland's expertise is also being used in other, still-struggling countries in the region, such as Ukraine and the Republic of Georgia. And perhaps most significant for the American public, the Polish government has repaid to the U.S. Treasury $120 million from sales of investments made by the Polish-American Enterprise Fund, created by USAID in the early 1990s. Today, the United States is Poland's No. 1 trading partner, investing more than $4 billion in Poland in 2000, which has created thousands of jobs for Americans.

USAID's successes depend on working with a wide range of partners and a talented and dedicated cadre of development professionals, working under duress in crisis situations, as well as under a cloud of challenges to the legitimacy, quality and relevance of their difficult work.

USAID is proud of its record and looks forward to the role it will play in support of America's future foreign policy challenges.

DONALD PRESSLEY

Acting Administrator

U.S. Agency for International Development

Washington

Only in America

At about the same time a relationship between Presbyterian and Jewish congregations was developing in Bethesda, something remarkably similar was initiated between a Jewish congregation and a Catholic parish in Reston ("Different faiths, same goal," Feb. 12).

The synagogue and church properties are adjacent. The church, St. Thomas a Becket, was built first, so the Jewish congregation used it for worship for several years until the Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation's synagogue was finished. Parking facilities still are shared. Because of overflow, many of the Catholic children have catechism class next door.

In Reston, a whole generation of Catholic children, my daughter Sarah among them, will be able to say to their Jewish neighbors when they grow up: "Sure, I went to catechism in a synagogue. Why, does that seem strange to you?"

Only in America.

EUGENE J. FISHER

Reston

Red wolf diatribe belongs on funny pages

As a retired wildlife biologist who enjoys humor, I suggest that the next time the Defenders of Wildlife write to attack a columnist on the issue of the endangerment of the red wolf, you put their letter in the funny pages ("Columnist shows no love for endangered wolf," Letters, Feb. 16).

If we cut through their smoke screen of biodiversity nonsense and focus upon their claim that the red wolf is an endangered species, we find an irony of the highest order: The red wolf is neither endangered nor a species.

Rather, the red wolf is a genetic mix of mostly coyote with significant parts of wolf and domestic dog. It is not a species, a subspecies, a race, a population or a distinct population segment. (Only the first biological division, that of species, was ever intended to be included on the federal endangered list. Today, however, all the other classifications outnumber that of species on the list.) The red wolf is a mix. It is one of the brightest examples of how the Endangered Species Act has run amok, becoming a tool for power grabbing by the federal government and its accomplices, such as the Defenders of Wildlife.

I think right below Mallard Fillmore and above Fred Basset would be the perfect spot.

JIM BEERS

Centreville

Infectious diseases are problem that must be addressed globally

Michael Fumento is correct about the difficulty Ebola would have spreading to the United States or becoming a killer pandemic ("Hysteria strain of Ebola fever," Commentary, Feb. 8). However, that's true only about the current strain. Mr. Fumento fails to recognize that pathogens are notorious for mutating. Mutations usually are harmless. However, there is nothing to stop Ebola or other virus types from evolving into the most deadly force on the planet. The Ebola in Richard Preston's "The Hot Zone," a novel based upon the true story of an Ebola outbreak in a suburban Washington laboratory, was an airborne strain that infected monkeys but, luckily, not people. That could change, as could the status of the other strains of disease rampant in Africa or other international pockets of neglect.

Infectious diseases, taken together, always have been the single greatest killer of people. Even today, humanity increasingly is threatened by infectious diseases as a result of increasingly rapid trade and travel amid pockets of intense poverty. Despite a global abundance of wealth and resources, 3 billion people still lack basic health care, education, clean water, sanitation and adequate nutrition. Add to this mixture the toxic and often mutation-causing chemicals we spew into the environment and increasing human incursion into pathogen-laden environments, such as the rain forests, and there is every reason for mild hysteria. Our modern-day reliance on technology for mass production and distribution of goods also amplifies accidents that happen.

That brings up the final point. What if the mutation or spread of Ebola isn't an accident? Members of the Aum Shinrikyo cult (the group guilty of the 1995 chemical attack in the Japanese subway) were caught in Zaire in 1992 attempting to secure some Ebola-infected tissue while disguised as relief workers.

The best protection we can get would be the global enforcement of the provisions laid out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. This single change in global human relations would eliminate 90 percent to 95 percent of the problems facing humanity. Those of faith will recognize the wisdom of such a notion in the phrase "Do unto others …" Future pandemics ultimately will be the result of our own doing.

CHUCK WOOLERY

Issues advocacy director

World Federalist Association

Washington

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