- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 7, 2001

Columnist questions loyalty of American Jews

Commentary columnist Georgie Anne Geyer pointedly places most of the blame for the failure of Camp David on U.S. diplomats of the Jewish faith ("Secrets of Camp David's failure," Aug. 3). There were too many of them, she says.
Her reasoning is not only fallacious; it is downright anti-Semitic. Does Miss Geyer support the use of quotas when hiring American Jews for government service? Her offensive comments make it perfectly clear that she believes that former U.S. envoy Dennis Ross and former National Security Advisor Samuel R. Berger, among others, were incapable of carrying out their Middle Eastern duties in the best interest of U.S. policy. In other words, Miss Geyer questions their loyalty as U.S. citizens. I cannot begin to imagine what she thinks about the nomination of Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman for vice president of the United States.

Silver Spring

U.S. servicewomen in Saudi Arabia should 'do as Romans do'

The image of a liberated U.S. servicewoman stands in stark contrast to the repressed Saudi Arabian woman, covered head-to-toe in the horribly unfashionable black abaya ("U.S. women ordered to put on Muslim garb," June 17). Senior Master Sgt. Beverly Holt elicits sympathy and support when she objects to U.S. Central Command's policy requiring servicewomen deployed to Saudi Arabia to wear the abaya while shopping off-base at the local suk. However well-intentioned, says Lt. Col. Mary McSally, a U.S. Air Force pilot, this multiculturally sensitive policy violates her rights as a Christian and discriminates against women. This is piffle.
Apparently, it has not occurred to Col. McSally or Sgt. Holt that Saudi Arabia is not the United States. Saudi Arabia has no constitution or Bill of Rights. Saudi Arabia is a theocracy in which Islamic law is the only law.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia has the right to insist that its cultural and religious practices be respected, especially in its own country. Liberals, who for years have insisted that we have no right to tell another culture they are "wrong," should agree. Col. McSally may have a right to wear a halter top and shorts while attending a Christian service on a U.S. base in Saudi Arabia, but she has no right to insist that Saudi Arabia accommodate this practice off-base. For her to insist otherwise is arrogant and an exercise in cultural imperialism.
Finally, it should be pointed out that the U.S. State Department is not the Department of Defense. That the State Department has a less restrictive dress code reflects that fact. In Saudi Arabia, women are barred from military service, and the mere presence of U.S. servicewomen is an affront to Saudi cultural and religious sensitivities. Therefore, it is proper that servicewomen take greater care not to cause offense.
I am reminded of G.K. Chesterton, who said "Faith is a thing to be respected, especially when it has no apparent supports but in the soul."

Stafford, Va.

Remember the old saying "When in Rome, do as the Romans do"? I think U.S. servicewomen should conform to the local Saudi traditions. It's just good manners.


Congo book, review omit crucial element of country's history

Roger Kaplan's review of Ludo de Witte's book "The Assassination of Lumumba," on events in the Congo between 1960 and 1961, was remarkable ("Rough passage in new Congo," Books, Aug. 5). I read it twice without encountering the words "communist," "Moscow" or even "U.S.S.R." That's a bit like reading an article on professional golf in 2000-2001 without encountering the words "Tiger" or "Woods." In each case, it is clear that the author has omitted a major point.
If the author and the reviewer really believe Patrice Lumumba was not Moscow's man in Africa, through whom the communists planned to establish a beachhead in sub-Saharan Africa, and that Moise Tshombe would not have suffered Mr. Lumumba's fate had he lost the power struggle, they should have presented facts and arguments to support that position. Ignoring inconvenient points, however, won't make those facts go away. There are people around who remember what happened in the Congo.
The people of the Congo had their interests; the Belgians had their interests; and the United States had its interests. The responsibility of United States' policy-makers was to protect U.S. interests. For those policy-makers, the most important point about the Congo between 1960 and 1961 was Mr. Lumumba's communist connection. To have ignored it would have been irresponsible.

Falls Church

White House must not endorse Kazakhstan corruption

Regarding Bill Richardson's July 30 Op-Ed "Crazy for Kazakhstan," I have one question: Which Kazakhstan is he talking about? Surely it is not the one in which I was born, grew up and edited a major newspaper until I was charged for "insulting the honor and dignity of the president." I was put on the fast track to a gulag-style prison after quoting Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana who quite accurately had said that my president was corrupt. Fortunately, I was able to flee the country and am living in exile in the United States until my homeland actually resembles the country Mr. Richardson describes.
Interestingly, Mr. Burton had far worse things to say about former President Bill Clinton over the past eight years. However, there were no threats to send him to jail, bomb his offices or kill him as my colleagues and I experienced repeatedly. In addition, I read former President Jimmy Carter's criticisms last month about President Bush. If he had made similar remarks about President Nursultan Nazarbayev in Kazakhstan, he would be in jail today.
Fortunately, during the eight years in which Mr. Richardson held senior posts in the Clinton administration, he either had the good sense not to offer such unsound advice, or President Clinton had the better judgment not to listen. Or perhaps the answer can be found in his decision to take a position as a paid consultant with the global energy and power group at Salomon Smith Barney.
One of the biggest mistakes of the Clinton administration was that when it came to democracy and human rights in Kazakhstan, it was all talk and no action. Mr. Nazarbayev saw through the empty rhetoric of Mr. Clinton and former Vice President Gore. Each time he returned home from Washington, he would tell my people that the United States thought he was doing a great job and that it had put no pressure on him to change. The White House should not take its invitations lightly or allow dictators to abuse them by treating them as White House seals of approval.
I hope Mr. Bush will listen not to Mr. Richardson, but to his own conscience. He must tell Mr. Nazarbayev that he is not welcome in the White House until he stops stealing money from his own citizens and shows greater respect for democracy, human rights and a free media in his own country.


Bigeldin Gabdullin is the former editor in chief of XXI Century, the Kazakhstani opposition newspaper.

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