- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 22, 2003

State Department maligned

As a long-time admirer and supporter of President Bush, a staunch member of the Republican Party and, for the last two years, the American ambassador to Denmark, I reject Joel Mowbray’s outrageous description (“Bush’s policy goals threatened,” Op-Ed, Thursday) of a “corrosive” State Department culture.

My 40-year career in private industry included dealings with some of the finest and most able people in the Washington business community and around the nation. Even against those standards, I have been deeply impressed by the hard work and integrity of the dedicated men and women of high quality in the State Department and other agencies who represent our country abroad.

I have no idea what their personal political persuasions are. It makes absolutely no difference, because I can assure you that these professionals are dedicated to one cause: advancing the interests of the United States.

The president and the secretary of State define those foreign policy interests. Colin L. Powell, rightly regarded as having reinvigorated the State Department, commands the full loyalty and respect of his Foreign Service troops. I know he would not for an instant tolerate the insubordination alleged by Mr. Mowbray.

Threatening the president’s policy goals? You can’t be serious. During my time as the president’s personal representative here, my talented Foreign Service colleagues have worked vigorously to persuade our Danish ally to join the U.S.-led military coalitions in Afghanistan and Iraq to seek exemption from International Criminal Court jurisdiction for U.S. officials, defend the U.S. position on the Kyoto Agreement, block the assets of international terrorist organizations, crack open European markets for American goods, services and agricultural products and enhance cooperation on missile defense. These are just a few of the important jobs on the president’s agenda that they have taken up with our often skeptical European friends.

The members of the Foreign Service and Civil Service who so ably serve our country under often difficult and demanding circumstances deserve our admiration and gratitude, not a dismissive slur on their loyalty and commitment to public service.

STUART BERNSTEIN

U.S. ambassador

Copenhagen, Denmark

Beichman wrong on ILO

Arnold Beichman’s column (“ILO’s effrontery,” Commentary, Wednesday) misses the point in its criticism of the U.N. International Labor Organization over discussions on the situation of Palestinian workers in the occupied territories held at the recently concluded International Labor Conference in Geneva.

The debate, as in previous years, allowed delegates to express their views without this leading to potentially harmful policies or operational consequences. The ground rules for the special sitting expressly deny the tabling of resolutions or conclusions of any kind.

Representatives of the U.S. and Israeli governments, as well as trade unions and employer associations, have actively participated in these discussions.

This escape-valve mechanism apparently mesmerized Mr. Beichman’s attention while, offstage, the ILO continued to focus on the real work of contributing to President Bush’s “road map” by establishing a special fund for technical cooperation programs in the Palestinian territories, promoting employment-creation and social safety networks and a new dialogue that will help in building confidence among the tripartite constituencies of all parties in the region.

Contrary to Mr. Beichman’s allegations, the ILO is significantly involved in women’s employment issues in Muslim countries — introducing technical cooperation projects, providing women with micro-credit facilities to start small enterprises, ending child labor and placing the children in special-education programs. The ILO’s Regional Office for the Arab States has been in the forefront of the momentum to improve the representation of women in employers’ and workers’ organizations.

With U.S. government funding, there are programs to strengthen labor-management cooperation in Jordan and Morocco. The ILO is also involved in encouraging the modernization of labor laws to permit worker representation in enterprises and trade unions.

The ILO will continue to seek to facilitate dialogue among constituents from both sides of the conflict in the Middle East, which is a key element of the wider political discussions within the framework of the “road map.”

ANTHONY G. FREEMAN

Director

ILO Washington Office

Prescription drug legislation

Thank you for printing two excellent columns by Thomas Sowell (“Prescriptions and politics,” Commentary, Saturday) and Jay Ambrose (“Where are the Democrats?” Commentary, Saturday) concerning the Medicare prescription drug legislation now in progress.

Both articles are correct that the proposed benefit would accelerate the financial collapse of Medicare and mostly benefit people who already have the means to obtain prescription drug coverage through the private sector. Yet, there is no logical or medical reason that our federal health care program for the elderly should exclude prescription drugs. How can these two facts be reconciled?

I think President Bush had it right the first time when he said prescription drug coverage should be addressed in the context of a full reform of the Medicare program, converting it into a vehicle for consumer choice, competition among insurers and assistance to the financially needy.

I hope he and sensible members of Congress of both parties, both for fiscal and social equity reasons, will stop the politically motivated rush to pass this dangerous entitlement legislation benefiting a relatively well-off sector of our society.

ANDREW AGREE

Vienna

Archdiocese misses target

John B. Schamel III made the point that the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington’s order not to accept money from a gun raffle fund-raiser for a Hyattsville church seems silly to those who view guns rationally as opposed to emotionally (“Gun raffles are good fund-raisers,” Letters, Friday).

While he is correct in his analysis of the information available, there may be unknown extenuating factors that make the archdiocese’s action reasonable.

However, there is no excuse for the failure of the archdiocese to speak out against Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, the pro-abortion former Maryland lieutenant governor and 2002 gubernatorial candidate, for delivering the graduation address at the Stone Ridge Academy of the Sacred Heart in Bethesda.

The archdiocese’s action against the gun raffle and inaction regarding the killing of the preborn and the abuse of women in abortion give the appearance the archdiocese is more concerned with banning guns than protecting human life. The failure of the archdiocese to speak out against Mrs. Townsend being used as a model for high-school girls to emulate is a serious dereliction of the bishop’s responsibility to protect and promote the Catholic faith.

WILLIAM LUKSIC

Rockville

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