- The Washington Times - Friday, March 28, 2003

Custer cartoon

I regularly read The Washington Times online, and I generally enjoy Bill Garner's editorial page cartoons. But I found yesterday's depiction of George Armstrong Custer leading today's U.S. Seventh Cavalry in a charge in Iraq to be simply wrong.
Why? For years, Custer's ambush at the Little Big Horn has been portrayed as the "bad old" Indians annihilating good U.S. soldiers. Yet, as history shows, comparing Custer and his Indian-murdering troops to the current Seventh Cavalry is an insult.
At the Battle of the Little Big Horn, Custer and his troops got paid back for their slaughter of innocent Indian women, children and old men. The Indian warriors who ambushed his troops at the Little Big Horn were fully justified.
I salute our troops today and the fine job they are doing. Custer, however, was a vain Indian killer who got what he deserved.

JOHN GUENTHER
Athens, Ala.

Fully combating HIV

Rep. Joe Pitts' column "The ABCs of hope" (Commentary, Wednesday) calls for changes in behavior to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS but the Pennsylvania Republican proposes only a minuscule portion of the behavior change that is needed. Heterosexual sex is the major factor in HIV transmission in Africa and the Caribbean. For too many women, the biggest risk factor is their husband's behavior, not their own.
In addition to funding President Bush's "ABC" approach (abstinence before marriage, being faithful to one partner, before condoms), the United States should invest in programs to promote behavioral changes in males so that they take responsibility for their own sexual behavior and do not resort to sexual coercion and violence. Females will then be better able to follow the ABC approach, if that is their choice.
The United States should also fund efforts to address the beliefs and practices that violate the rights of females and contribute to high rates of HIV infection. These include child marriage, widow inheritance (in which male relatives of the deceased gain sexual access to the widow), polygamy and men's belief that sex with a virgin will cure HIV. The poverty that makes girls and women vulnerable to men's sexual demands should be addressed also.
Let's take a comprehensive approach to fighting HIV/AIDS. That way, we will succeed.

ADRIENNE GERMAIN
President
International Women's Health Coalition
New York

Maryland's marijuana legalization bid

Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) spokesman Bruce Mirken's letter responding to White House drug czar John P. Walters' good efforts to oppose medical marijuana deserves much clarification ("Marijuana morality," Wednesday).
First, Mr. Mirken tries to claim that science is on his side by citing a few organizations and publications that he says have expressed support for "medical excuse marijuana." He, of course, neglects to tell readers that the most prestigious medical organizations in this country including the American Medical Association, American Cancer Society, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the American Glaucoma Association and the National Eye Institute, plus the United Nations are all adamantly opposed to smoking pot as medicine.
No wonder he must resort to referring to well-known legalization advocate Dr. Jocelyn Elders to boost his argument. For the sick, there are many other medications that do a much better job at relieving symptoms than marijuana. If this weren't the case, we would hear an outcry from the medical community to legalize the medicinal use of the drug. But no outcry exists, except among drug legalization advocates.
Additionally, he tries to bolster his cause of legalizing drugs by claiming that the National Academy of Sciences' Institute of Medicine Report actually supported medical marijuana initiatives, such as the one just passed in Maryland. Of course it does not, since the report specifically states that "because of the health risks associated with smoking, smoked marijuana should not be recommended for medical use."
Clinical trials to determine the efficacy of single marijuana compounds is one thing, but widespread marijuana availability under the guise of "medicine" is quite another.
Shame on the MPP, whose sole stated aim is to legalize marijuana outright, for perpetrating lies and asking that the scientific process for determining safety and efficacy of a medicine be circumvented in the name of a larger political agenda. The Food and Drug Administration is the only agency that can approve drugs.
Recently, MPP published its seven-point list of goals for 2003. Because MPP is outraged that Mr. Walters is speaking out against marijuana legalization, MPP lists as its No. 1 goal, "Emasculate the drug czar."

JOYCE NALEPKA
President
Drug-Free Kids: America's Challenge
Silver Spring

Daniel Patrick Moynihan, R.I.P.

As one of the most brilliant and learned men of the U.S. Senate, the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan often broke with the liberal views of his fellow Democrats. On two major issues, in particular, he was early and right.
One related to the fatherless black family. In the early 1970s, he rightly asserted that families without live-in fathers were far more likely to produce poverty, illiteracy and delinquency than two-parent families. This insight helped shape subsequent welfare legislation.
The other issue, of course, was his steadfast view that the Soviet Union was not only a totalitarian state but also a serious threat to peace and freedom.
Responding to Sen. Frank Church's attack on the CIA, which resulted in the restrictive Hughes-Ryan bill, Mr. Moynihan said the bill reflected the bizarre view that America was more threatened by the "activities of the U.S. government" than by those of Moscow. In 1980, Hughes-Ryan was replaced by the Accountability for Intelligence Activities Act, which required that only two congressional committees be informed of CIA activities.
Of course, Mr. Moynihan was not perfect. In a column praising him, George Will once noted that even Homer nodded. If our leaders nodded as infrequently as Mr. Moynihan, our world would be a better place.

ERNEST W. LEFEVER
Senior fellow
Ethics and Public Policy Center
Washington

Understanding Turkey's troubles

I read with interest Helle Dale's Wednesday Op-Ed column, "Trouble with Turkey," and I have a few thoughts about it.
It's clear that Turkey should have helped the United States, if for nothing else, its own economic interest. Yet, although I am not especially familiar with Turkish issues, it would seem to me that one should perhaps try to understand what motivated Turkey's decision. I have a suspicion Turkey cares about its territorial integrity to the point of paranoia, and the United States probably did not make it clear enough to the Turks that an independent Kurdistan would not be created under any circumstances.
Many Turks very likely think that, if push comes to shove, the United States would not be averse to an independent Kurdistan in Iraq in the name of democracy and freedom from oppression. Laudable as democracy and freedom are, many nations believe in territorial integrity at any cost, period.
I am an Indian citizen, so the closest parallel I can think of is Kashmir. Most Kashmiris would like freedom. At the same time, the Indian government (and the rest of the people of India) will never grant Kashmir sovereign nationhood, no matter what the cost. Kashmir already has some degree of autonomy (e.g., no Indian citizen is allowed to buy property in Kashmir, and the state of Kashmir has its own elected government). That is about all that is possible, nothing more.
In my humble opinion, a similar situation faces the Turks, and the United States ought to understand that.

ASHWIN BHAVE
Sunnyvale, Calif.

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