- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 8, 2001

Voice of America hushed in Romania and Moldova

As a footnote to your Jan. 31 editorial "Voiceless America," the Broadcasting Board of Governors' recent decision to reduce radio broadcasts of the Romanian Service of the Voice of America to 15 minutes (made public 48 hours before the inauguration of the new administration) could not come at a worse time. Romania is the largest state in the Balkans, and Moldova, where the service also broadcasts, is the only successor state in the European part of the former Soviet Union where the Russian army continues to be deployed. In fact, the U.S. Broadcasting Board cut the short-wave delivery system to Moldova nearly a year ago, eliminating Romanian-language broadcasts to that country. VOA now only broadcasts in Russian to the country where the majority population is Romanian. What kind of message does that send?

Any impartial observer will agree that this is not a time to cut VOA's direct communication by radio with millions of Romanians and Moldovans. Asked if the board had consulted the National Security Council on the foreign-policy implications of the new VOA cuts, including Romanian, VOA Director Sanford Ungar answered, "No." The silencing of VOA Romanian programs to the struggling democracies of Romania and Moldova is a huge disservice to the United States and an immense disservice to millions of loyal listeners of the VOA in both target areas. VOA radio broadcasting to Romania and Moldova should be reinstated as a direct and powerful tool of America's public diplomacy. VOA's mission to serve America's long-range interests by direct communication with the people at large necessarily must include the critical areas of Romania and Moldova.

ARMAND A. SCALA

President

Congress of Romanian Americans

McLean

U.S. wouldn't have veto over all international court rulings

Susan Bradford's Feb. 2 Op-Ed column, "Treaty on trial," was a thoughtful contribution that dealt with a number of major issues in the ongoing debate over the International Criminal Court. On one important point, however, her presentation misstates the ICC Treaty. She notes correctly that the United States holds veto power in the U.N. Security Council and then adds that it is the Security Council that "authorizes enforcement of ICC rulings." However, under Article 87(5)(b) and Article 87(7) of the treaty, the enforcement role of the Security Council appears to be limited to cases referred to the ICC by the Security Council. Otherwise, referrals of cases of noncooperation by states appear to go to the Assembly of States for such action as it may decide to take. The United States would not have veto power in that body.

JEROME ACKERMAN

Chevy Chase

In Civil War, North and South at odds on battle names as well

Martha M. Boltz did a splendid job with her article on Florida's major Civil War battle, Olustee ("Train of wounded troops pulled by black soldiers," The Civil War, Feb. 3). I would like to note, however, that her assertion that the Battle of Olustee was "called Ocean Pond by the South" is wrong. In fact, this name was used by the North. The convention for naming Civil War battles and armies is that the South used the nearest civil jurisdiction, the North the nearest geographical feature. Accordingly, you don't hear about "Bull Run" (a stream) here in Virginia; the battle place is called Manassas (a city). Antietam (a creek) is called Sharpsburg (a city) in the South. Gettysburg is another story, but it is in the North. Likewise, the Confederacy had the Army of Tennessee (a state) and the Union the Army of the Tennessee (a river). In the South, we talk of Olustee, never of Ocean Pond.

RODERICK S. SPEER

Alexandria

Armenian 'genocide' legislation is politically motivated

I strongly disagree with your Feb. 5 editorial "Genocidal politics," which states that "evidence, including the testimony of a U.S. official in Turkey at the time, demonstrates the slaughter of Armenians was widespread, intentional and brutal." On the contrary, in his Oct. 13 Commentary column, "Genocide gyrations," Bruce Fein pointed out the exculpatory evidence of Rear Adm. Mark L. Bristol, U.S. High Commissioner and later ambassador to the Republic of Turkey, 1920 to '26:

"I see that reports are being freely circulated in the United States that the Turks massacred thousands of Armenians in the Caucasus. Such reports are repeated so many times that it makes my blood boil. The Near East Relief have the reports from Yarrow and our own American people which show absolutely that such Armenian reports are absolutely false."

What would be the purpose of the United States taking a position on a historical issue from World War I? Neither Congress nor the president has any business meddling in this complex topic. It should be left to the historians to sort out the facts fairly.

The consequences of such an action are no small matter for U.S. interests. The Turkish government and parliament indicated they will take measures against the United States if the politicians succumb to their ethnic Armenian constituents. These measures certainly will include stopping U.S. planes from enforcing the no-fly zone in northern Iraq and opening the Iraqi border for trade, which will cause considerable harm to our sanctions in Iraq. In condemning Turkey, the genocide bill also will alienate a major NATO ally and damage our trade and military ties with her.

Passing such a bill also would be wrong. There are no grounds on which to state that "1.5 million Armenians" were killed in Turkey. During the World War I years, all sides suffered. Most objective historians estimate that the actual Armenian loss was less than 600,000. Boghos Nubar, head of the Armenian delegation to the Paris Peace Conference in 1920, estimated that after the war, 280,000 Armenians remained in the Anatolian portion of the occupied Ottoman Empire while 700,000 Armenians had emigrated to other countries. Casualties to Turkish and other Muslim populations in the Caucasus during that time are estimated at 2.5 million. My own family suddenly lost everything during the Balkan war of 1912. From a large extended Turkish family, only two people survived the forced migration to Istanbul. When my grandmother reflected on her unfortunate experiences afterwards, she never accused other ethnic groups of genocide. It was a brutal war in which civilians paid the price.

There is a reason why no internationally recognized body (such as the United Nations) has ever recognized the Armenian allegations of genocide they have been brought by legislators pandering to their ethnic constituents for short-term gains, such as winning elections. Other than the ethnic zealots, experts agree that people from many sides suffered during World War I in Caucasus.

We should stop painting these events in black and white because of political pressure and let the healing process continue for both communities.

AYLIN DIRESKENELI

Newport News, Va.

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