- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 30, 2000

Traditional power politics still rule the world

Clyde Prestowitz's April 4 Op-Ed column, "Who rules the global village?" repeated the same liberal line about global commerce fostering democracy and peace that has been heard for some 300 years and that was repeated by President Clinton at the White House Conference on the New Economy the day after the column was published.

The actual course of events has shown that technology and economic growth often go to support exalted ambitions and fuel rivalries, both ancient and newborn. Thus, his following claim is nonsense: "The greatest threat to the United States and to world security today is not the strength of other nations. Rather it is their weakness." The collapse of the Soviet Union was a blessing, diminishing a potentially fatal threat to America. Likewise, peace is enhanced by a China that remains too weak to carry out its saber-rattling threats against Taiwan, other Asian states and the United States. Other hot spots abound, from the Balkans to Kashmir, Central Asia to the Persian Gulf, the Golan Heights to the Korean demilitarized zone, Colombia to Sudan. Their outcomes depend on traditional power politics.

As for Mr. Prestowitz's view about the Internet, it was created to foster weapons research and is being used for that purpose all over the world. More broadly, telecommunications is the basis not just for e-commerce, but also for information warfare. These are means, not ends.

A global system of political economy has existed since before Columbus discovered America. It has been "ruled" by those who could apply the most effort to doing so, developing their own resources and pressing their advantages.

There is considerable empirical evidence that periods of instability and war occur when the central global power loses strength relative to rising regional powers harboring dynamic ambitions. Thus, as economic growth and the proliferation of technology empower more players in the world arena, the new century will become ever more dangerous. The "what, me worry?" optimism of Mr. Prestowitz and Mr. Clinton is wildly off target in the real world.



Will a memorial to Chunky Monkey consumers be next?

James Zumwalt's April 25 Commentary column, "Honoring all who died," has noble intentions but lacks a factual basis. Mr. Zumwalt urges a memorial for Vietnam veterans who died as a result of Agent Orange exposure and suicides related to post-traumatic stress disorder.

No credible scientific evidence exists that Agent Orange has caused harm to human health. The Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Science Advisory Board concluded that dioxin, the substance of concern in Agent Orange, has caused no health effects except for a skin disease seen at very high exposure levels.

Tests for dioxin in U.S. ground troops serving in areas sprayed by Agent Orange indicate there were no measurable exposures. There is no excess mortality among U.S. Air Force personnel who sprayed 90 percent of the Agent Orange and definitely were exposed.

The hype surrounding dioxin is best deflated by our recent study measuring the level of dioxin in a serving of Ben & Jerry's ice cream at about 200 times the EPA's so-called "safe" level. Ben & Jerry's claims, "The only safe level of dioxin exposure is no exposure at all," but no one is rushing to build a monument to consumers of Chunky Monkey.

Finally, there is no question that suicides have been elevated in combat veterans. A monument would be better dedicated to all combat veterans whose minds were so damaged that they took their own lives.







Michael Gough was chairman (1990-95) of the Department of Health and Human Services' advisory panel to the U.S. Air Force study of the effects of Agent Orange.

Senator may be too optimistic about 'Turkey's human rights progress'

With regard to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms' April 21 Op-Ed column, "Turkey's human rights progress," we hope his optimism on the course of Turkish human rights abuses is justified. The Turkish people certainly merit a reprieve from the relentless pattern of oppression they have suffered over the past decades. Mr. Helms is right when he calls for Turkey to adhere to "world-class standards of democracy and human rights." At present, the Turkish constitution, with its dominant role for the Turkish military, does not get to first base.

Two conspicuous omissions from Mr. Helms' column were Cyprus and religious freedom in Turkey. During the Turkish aggression against Cyprus in 1974, the Turkish forces killed more than 1,000 Greek Cypriots and forced 180,000 Greek Cypriots to flee from their homes. The Turkish military occupation of 37.3 percent of the island is in its 26th year, and signs of Turkish progress on human rights are zero. Such independent institutions as the European Court of Human Rights have found the Turkish occupation guilty of denying human rights to the residents of Cyprus and have assessed large monetary penalties against Turkey.

Religious freedom is sharply curtailed in Turkey. The Eastern Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate are subject to regular harassment. The Patriarchate's School of Theology at Halki was closed illegally in 1971 and remains closed despite requests from the U.S. government and others to have it reopened.

Mr. Helms wisely accepts that many of the charges of human rights abuses against Turkey are well-founded. I hope that, in assessing progress, he also will take account of Turkey's complete lack of movement on Cyprus and religious freedom and protection for the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Ecumenical Patriarchate.


General counsel

American Hellenic Institute



Sen. Jesse Helms' attempt to give Turkey a clean human rights bill of health stands in stark contrast to what should serve as the moral standards in this realm: support for the self-determination of peoples and accountability for human rights abuse. It is not enough to embrace Turkey for diminution in the incidence of draconian incidents. We must demand that those responsible for such tragedies be brought before the bar of justice.

Turkey's soil is littered with the corpses of Kurds who had nothing to do with the violent Kurdistan Workers Party, or PKK. These people have shed enough blood to fertilize their freedom. It is incomprehensible why Turkey should stand in the way of Kurdish freedom next door in northern Iraq. There is nothing sacred about the territorial integrity of that colonially cobbled state, and it is there that Kurds could flourish and escape the perpetual abuse of Turks to the north and Arabs to the south.

Indeed, if Turkey were clever, it would view Kurdistan as a buffer state intrinsic to its national security interests and a place where independence-loving Kurds could flee if they chose not to live under Turkish suzerainty.

It is hypocritical for us to support Tibetan independence while ignoring the century-long and equally just aspirations of Kurdish peoples. The only reason Palestinians deserve a separate state and Kurds don't is political expediency. Sadly, neither U.S. political party has the will or the decency to embrace self-determination for all peoples.



Peter Humphrey served as a Persian Gulf analyst for the U.S. government in the late 1990s.

Who to believe?

Your April 28 editorial "Who controls Elian?" was right on target. In general, I vote for just plain lying when it comes to Attorney General Janet Reno and the Justice Department. Lying, spreading misinformation and just plain devious behavior is what we have been subjected to for the past seven years from the Clinton administration from the top on down. The administration's modus operandi has been that the ends justify the means. Lord help anyone who gets in the way of what the administration wants.



Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Copyright © 2019 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.


Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide