- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 4, 2000

NBC's pedestrian coverage of Olympic Games

Thank you for your Oct. 2 editorial "The Olympic ghost." I was fortunate enough to be in Europe (Poland, to be specific) during the first week of the Olympics. The coverage there (by the Eurosports Network) was totally different from the U.S. coverage. Eurosports showed continuous sports events, without the sappy human-interest stories that frequented American network coverage.
For years, the U.S. networks have shown more biographical stories than sports coverage. Eurosports showed everything from the qualifying events to the finals. It was a pleasure to see how the athletes competing in the finals made it there.
Princeton, N.J.

Over at last. The 2000 Olympics turned out to be the most disgraceful display of disjointed coverage, bloated events, distracting side stories and blatant commercialism in the history of the Games. They were a thorough disappointment.
Indeed, if the International Olympic Committee keeps adding events, we can expect to see skateboarding, marbles, jet skiing, aerobics and basket weaving in future Olympics. What happened to covering the 800- and 1500-meter runs?
How embarrassing it will be for the 2004 Olympics in Athens, the birthplace of the modern Games, if Greece and the rest of the world have to endure such a spectacle. If for no other reason than respect for history, the Athens Games should be closer to the original Olympic spirit.
Apple Valley, Calif.

Your editorial "The Olympic ghost" was on the mark but touched only tangentially on the biggest reason we aren't interested in the Games anymore.
The marketing droids clearly decided that they needed to punch up the Games (as if that were possible) by including newer, more popular sports. Now that we have obliterated the line between serious amateur athletes and their showboating, millionaire professional counterparts, NBC was able to emphasize team sports that would show off the professionals.
So we saw beach volleyball, baseball and basketball ad nauseam sports that cable and satellite subscribers can view on any given night. Because NBC deems such sports worthier of air time, the once-great Games have sunk slowly into the morass of the commonplace and the mundane. The very thing that made the Olympics special and interesting has been lost, perhaps forever.
Austin, Texas

Article on Israeli-Palestinian violence reveals bias

Any student of the Middle East and the recent uprising between the Israelis and the Palestinians would be appalled at the level of bias exhibited in the article "Israeli officer slain by gunfire in 'holy struggle'" (Oct. 2).
The headline, the largest in the print edition and the first in the on-line edition, betrays the author's cruel calculus: One Israeli soldier's life is more important than the many lives of Palestinian civilians lost on the same day. That soldier's life gets a mention in the second paragraph, while a 12-year-old boy who was shot by an Israeli soldier pitifully gets mentioned in the eleventh.
Moreover, the article creates a false symmetry between the Palestinian civilians, more than 30 of whom were killed in recent fighting, and the Israeli occupation forces. The fact remains that had the soldiers not been using overly aggressive tactics in Palestinian territory, they would not have been in any danger. This context was all but ignored in the article.
Also, the article's characterization of Ariel Sharon as the "leader of Israel's hawkish opposition" is extremely disingenuous, as if he were the Israeli equivalent of House Speaker Newt Gingrich during the Clinton administration. In reality, Mr. Sharon is a war criminal. He was responsible for the brutal Israeli invasion of Lebanon, the Sabra-Shatila and the Qibya massacres. Without this information, it is impossible to understand the Palestinian reaction to his recent acts.

Early NATO action in Albania would have prevented atrocities

Bernard Kouchner's glowing account of his achievements as United Nations civil administrator of Kosovo rightly has drawn your ire (" 'Romantic' Kosovo," Oct. 1). But Mr. Kouchner is merely a fall guy for mistaken Western policy. There was, to paraphrase Sherlock Holmes, the curious incident of the NATO watchdog that did nothing in the nighttime.
Common sense, international law, regional stability and, not the least, humanitarian considerations dictated from early 1998 onward that Albania's lawless border region with Kosovo be sealed to stem the flow of weapons to the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) and to close down KLA training camps. Such humdrum foot soldiering, admittedly not as glamorous as high-tech bombing, deliberately was rejected by NATO even though it could have had a Security Council mandate because a Russian and Chinese veto would not have been forthcoming. Furthermore, Albania was in no position to object, given that it was bankrupt and a client state of NATO. In fact, NATO held Partnership in Peace exercises with the Albanian army in Albania while turning a blind eye to the KLA camps. "Partnership for an Impending War" more aptly describes those exercises.
Imagine the impact on Ulster if the Irish Republic briefly descended into anarchy with all of its armories looted, enabling the Irish Republican Army (IRA) to take control of the border areas. Yet the equivalent occurred in Albania and was tolerated. Worse still, the KLA eventually was recognized as a legitimate party to the dispute without meeting the requirements demanded of the IRA, which had to participate in elections, win seats, stop the armed struggle and cease trying to establish no-go areas.
Treating the KLA, whose objective all along was all-out war, with kid gloves inevitably led to NATO's demand that all Yugoslav military and police depart Kosovo. The resulting policing vacuum, which NATO's occupying forces and the United Nation's flown-in constabulary could not possibly fill, contributed to the murderous expulsion of most of Kosovo's Serbs, Roma and other non-Albanian communities, as well as rampant criminality that threatens ordinary Kosovars.
If only NATO had acted in Albania, the terrorist KLA would not have supplanted the pacifist leader Ibrahim Rugova. Kosovo's Albanians would have realized that enhanced autonomy already conceded in principle by Belgrade, providing it did not open the door to secession was the most that could be achieved. It also would have reinforced diplomacy's refrain that Yugoslavia's territorial integrity was inviolable. At the very least, valuable time would have been bought.
European co-ordinator
The Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies
United Kingdom

Trudeau not 'premier'

I was all of seven years of age when Pierre Trudeau retired from public life in 1984. As a Canadian, I witnessed and continue to witness the impact of his politics and policies. As a result, I have never been a fan of his. Despite this, I wish to point out that the headline "Former Canadian premier Pierre Trudeau dies at 80" (A15, Sept. 29) is incorrect. There is no such position as the premier of Canada. The head of government in Canada is the prime minister. That title was used correctly throughout the article itself. A premier is the head of government of a province or territory.

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