- The Washington Times - Sunday, December 10, 2000

Russian imprisonment of American troubles readers

Your front-page coverage of American businessman Edmond Pope's conviction in Russia ("Moscow sentences American to 20 years," Dec. 7) finally directed some public attention to this disturbing case.

That Russia did not permit news media and U.S. embassy observers into the courtroom strikes me as frighteningly reminiscent of Soviet abuses of civil rights. Russian President Vladimir Putin's continued silence on the issue suggests a willingness to revert to the Cold War-era of poor communication and repression.

Our government has made a grave error in its lack of concern for Mr. Pope. We should take immediate, if belated, steps to publicly reprimand Russia.

I am appalled that our government has not been more disapproving of Russia holding a U.S. citizen in prison.




I am deeply concerned that our government has done so little to help American businessman Edmond Pope. How can our country stand with deaf ears and idle hands as a fellow citizen is unjustly sentenced to 20 years in a foreign prison?

We have a duty, indeed a binding obligation, to unwaveringly fight to bring our fellow countryman home.



Until ballots are counted, America cannot be proud of its democracy

Americans are proud of their country. That was particularly evident after the election, when we shrugged off potential disaster and pointed to painstaking ballot counts as evidence of our democracy's strength.

The pride and optimism were appropriate as long as the ballots were being counted.

Ballots are no longer being counted, at least not in Florida. A combination of political muscle, cronyism and conservative judges has squelched the very activity we had pointed to as symbolic of our democracy.

Where does that leave us? With a "president" who will take office by obstructing vote counts.

We must take great measures to ensure that this cannot happen again. After all, next time, the candidates will know how the system can be subverted. If our democracy's strength depends on the power and integrity of the vote, we're in serious trouble no matter how optimistic we try to be.


Bellevue, Wis.

Gore like most in his churchgoing habits

As a member of the Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Arlington, I'm writing to clarify a statement made about the church in the Dec. 7 article, "Gore a church regular when 'in crisis.' "

Our pastor, Martha Phillips, did state that Vice President Al Gore and Tipper Gore tend to turn to the church "when he's in crisis". You only quoted part of the statement she made to the Associated Press, however: "It seems like when he's in crisis, he turns to us. But that's what people do." Mr. and Mrs. Gore, like many other people, do turn to their faith at times when they need guidance and direction. I would much rather see them attend church than participate in other less positive activities.

In fairness to the Gores, they have made several visits to the church before the election, as often as their schedules permitted. They even took time during a very busy campaign in the summer to attend a special church election, when Martha Phillips was endorsed by the congregation as pastor.

They have never sought publicity for their attendance. It has only been since the Florida recount that the news media have more closely scrutinized the vice president's religious beliefs and church visits.



NATO should take back 'blank check' it gave to KLA

NATO, the "world's mightiest military alliance," has a history of being unwilling to confront the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) ("U.N. boosts force near Kosovo border," Dec. 1).

During 1998, NATO held Partnership in Peace exercises with the Albanian army in Albania. Yet it willfully ignored the existence of KLA camps in the north of the country and the flow from these camps of trained men and weaponry into Kosovo. "Partnership for an Impending War" more aptly describes these exercises.

Then there was the murderous expulsion of the majority of Kosovo's Serbs, Roma and other non-Albanians under the noses of occupying Kosovo implementation force (Kfor) troops. Now the KLA has moved hundreds of heavily armed men from Kosovo into the adjoining 8-mile wide demilitarized zone of Serbia proper under the eyes of Kfor patrols.

NATO appears to have only one effective way of dealing with a determined adversary, and that is to bomb its civilian infrastructure. But this would be a nonsensical response to the KLA incursion into Serbia proper.

Yugoslavia's army should be allowed into the demilitarized zone forthwith. It is about time NATO took back the blank check it foolishly bequeathed to the KLA.


European co-ordinator

Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies


United Kingdom

Historically, land mines detrimental to ground forces

History already has proven Frank Gaffney Jr. wrong in his defense of anti-personnel land mines ("Pre-empting Bush on security?" Commentary, Dec. 6). We saw the same arguments about the United States needing another weapon system some 55 years ago, only then it was chemical weapons.

During the invasion of Iwo Jima, U.S. military commanders, backed by opinion pieces much like Mr. Gaffney's (one read, "You Can Cook 'Em Better with Gas"), wanted to use chemical weapons to flush Japanese troops out of underground tunnels.

There was no doubt that chemical weapons would have saved hundreds, if not thousands of U.S. lives on Iwo Jima. President Roosevelt responded to these requests with a simple note, "All prior endorsements denied Franklin D. Roosevelt, Commander in Chief."

With one bold statement, Roosevelt cemented U.S. leadership in the global effort to stigmatize poison gas. This effort culminated with the Chemical Weapons Convention signed by President George Bush in 1993.

That Iraq refused to use chemical weapons against allied forces during the Gulf war for fear of an international reaction shows the enduring success of a commander in chief who could look past shortsighted military concerns and ban an inhumane weapon.

Indeed, the military think tank ordered to assess the military impact on a ban of U.S. anti-personnel mines, the Dupuy Institute, informed the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff that "a total ban on this type of mine, if eventually adhered to by most nations, will only benefit the U.S. ground forces in the long run."

If President Clinton is not able to recognize his role as commander in chief and sign the Ottawa Convention mine-ban treaty, then I hope the next president will have the courage to ignore such myopic minds as Mr. Gaffney's and do what's best for our soldiers and millions of others around the world.



Scott Nathanson is executive director of Citizens for a Responsible Budget. He wrote "Commander-in-Chief: Contrasting the presidential roles in the world campaigns to ban chemical weapons (1919-45) and land mines (1990s)." It was published by the Center on International Policy.

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