- The Washington Times - Friday, January 7, 2005

In defense of Jimmy Carter

Your Op-Ed column by Charlie Norwood, (“Carter’s misadventures,” Dec. 29) regarding former President Jimmy Carter’s role in Venezuela is baseless.

The situation in Venezuela the past two years would not have been as peaceful had it not been for the intervention of Mr. Carter and the Carter Center as mediators. Call me naive, but I value human life, and that is why I am thankful to Mr. Carter for his intervention there.

President Hugo Chavez has offered Venezuelans the opportunity to participate in how the country is run. Venezuelans now have the right to remove elected officials beyond their midterm through a referendum if the officials have failed to live up to their promises. I think we could use a similar law here in the States. I would call this more democratic, not less.

The Aug. 15 referendum to remove Mr. Chavez, or not, was monitored not only by the Carter Center; it also was monitored by the Organization of American States and numerous international observers from many countries.

If one looks at the method of voting for that referendum and compares it to the recent presidential voting we had here in the United States, the clarity of the Venezuelan process is obvious.

Everybody in Venezuela voted using the same method, unlike the situation in the United States, where the method varied from town to town. The computerized voting machines gave each voter a receipt, which the voter used to verify that the computer had recorded his or her intentions correctly, and then the receipt was placed in a box.

In the United States, the voters have no idea whether their votes are being recorded correctly because there are no receipts after the voting takes place. I have no idea how an audit can take place in the United States when computerized voting equipment is used and there are no receipts. In Venezuela, an audit was conducted and the receipts matched the computerized records.

You also mentioned that the results from a reputable polling agency indicated that the opposition would win the referendum. However, the results from this poll were leaked to the press before voting was concluded, and it was later learned that the people who conducted the poll were members of the opposition and that they had located themselves in areas that favored the opposition.

The opposition in Venezuela is responsible for the deaths that occurred during the coup d’etat of 2002. The Chavez supporters who were shown shooting from the bridge near the palace were defending themselves.

It was the opposition that hired sharpshooters to kill people on both sides. This has been proved in the documentary “Puente Llaguno — Keys to a Massacre.” This documentary is a chronological study of who shot whom, and when, during the events of April 11, 2002. I recommend that Mr. Norwood see this film to become better informed.

I am not from Georgia, so I am not familiar with Mr. Norwood’s accomplishments in Congress. I am sure he represents his constituents well. However, Mr. Carter has distinguished himself for his actions in mediation of international conflicts. His legacy will live a long time after he is gone. Every American should be proud of his accomplishments.

JORGE MARIN

Canton, Mass.

Scientists have a responsibility

The commentary by Steven Milloy (“Rescuers … and opportunists,” Thursday) wrongly reports that Friends of the Earth and Greenpeace linked climate change to the devastating earthquake in the Indian Ocean. We did not.

Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland and Greenpeace U.K. provided comments to the British newspaper the Independent before Christmas on the dramatic increase in insurance claims resulting from hurricanes, droughts, floods and other events consistent with the expected early effects of climate change. This was in response to new calculations prepared by the global re-insurance firm Swiss Re that found a dramatic increase in insured losses to natural disasters in 2004.

The quotes duly appeared in an article Dec. 27, but by this time, the piece had been rewritten to be part of the coverage of the tsunami. For the record, I would like to make absolutely clear that we have never claimed that earthquakes can be caused by climate change and have never sought to make any such link.

STEPHEN TINDALE

Executive director

Greenpeace U.K.

London

TONY JUNIPER

Executive director

Friends of the Earth England, Wales and Northern Ireland

London

In his commentary, Mr. Milloy skewers environmental activists for saying global warming was to blame for last week’s disastrous tsunami in the Indian Ocean. Global-warming activists have taken in many people over the years, but this time, they may have gone too far.

It doesn’t take a genius to see clearly, as this article explains, that the tsunami’s seismic cause cannot possibly have had anything to do with climate.

It’s one more instance of the shameless dishonesty underlying the global-warming issue. From the outset, its proponents have systematically ignored key facts, rigged test results and published false reports.

Many of them are politicians, and we know how much credence to give that crowd. Others, however, are scientists, and they are another matter altogether. Because of who and what they are, we should be able to believe them. When they lie, they violate a public trust.

If we cannot trust scientists, people will die. And if we the people really want to do something useful in remembrance of the thousands who died in the tsunami, we would start looking for ways to punish, and punish severely, politically partisan scientists for their flagrant dishonesty.

JOHN S. MASON JR.

Alexandria

Alternative strategy for Iran

“Risks of appeasing Iran’s mullahs”(Commentary, Wednesday) offers a refreshing and plausible policy option in dealing with Tehran’s increasingly defiant nuclear posture and rogue behavior in Iraq.

Europe’s decade-long policy of all carrots and no sticks has failed miserably as the cunning mullahs of Iran made a stew out of the carrots and ate it. The Iranian people are far worse off today than 10 years ago, when the Europeans cloaked their business-minded approach under the veneer of, then, “constructive engagement” and, now, “human rights dialogue.” While the Europeans pocketed billions, ordinary Iranians grew poorer and thousands ended up hanged in public places or languishing in jails.

Appeasement advocates in Europe and the United States, while highlighting the negative aspects of a military strike, insist on yet more concessions to Tehran. As the author suggests, however, there is a third option: “For once, we should side with the millions in Iran whose cry is for freedom and regime change.”

The United States shot itself in the foot in 1997 by blacklisting Iran’s main opposition, the People’s Mujahideen, in a doomed effort to reach out to now-lame-duck President Mohammed Khatami.

Having now acknowledged that no member of this anti-fundamentalist group was a terrorist, the administration should remove that unwarranted designation to show to the Iranian people that it is on their side and to give itself effective leverage in dealing with Tehran.

ALI SAFAVI

President

Near East Policy Research

Washington

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