- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 22, 2001

Changes at Voice of America undermine U.S. interests

As a constant reader of The Washington Times, I have followed with special interest the recent articles on the Voice of America broadcasts slated for termination by the Clinton-appointed Broadcasting Board of Governors (BBG). It is my informed opinion that the proposed cuts at the Voice of America are both ill-timed and detrimental to U.S. interests in strategic areas.

Unfortunately, in trying to explain the cuts, the BBG deals with the glaring shortcomings of its Jan. 19 decision in typical Clintonesque manner: by answering in counterfactual fashion ("Oversight body explains Voice of America language cuts," Letters, Feb. 19). The BBG asserts that 30 minutes of broadcasting will be enough for NATO member Turkey. But what about Romania, the laggard of Eastern Europe; or Moldova, where unreformed communists are the dominant force; or Uzbekistan and other areas of the post-communist world, which can be called "rich media environments" only in jest? For Romania and Moldova, two countries I happen to know well, the BBG authorized some 345 minutes of U.S.-funded broadcasts per day. Ironically, 96 percent of that total air time will be broadcast from Prague, Bucharest and Chisinau by Romanian and Moldovan journalists and citizens of those countries. Only 4 percent of the programming financed by the U.S. government will deal with American policies and values as reported by U.S. journalists and American citizens.

What strategic planner in Washington would man sensitive U.S. positions overwhelmingly with foreign diplomats? That is exactly what the BBG is doing with one of the most important arms of our public diplomacy. To paraphrase the BBG's explanation in the interrogative is this the right manner of reallocating our resources in this changing world "in a responsible way, using the taxpayers' resources wisely and to the benefit of our national interests" as the BBG would have us believe?

The BBG would like to have us believe that its decision was made after consultation with the secretary of state. Which secretary of state? The truth of the matter is that the governors acted on Jan. 19. They did not have the courtesy to allow Secretary of State Colin Powell an opportunity to evaluate and make his own calls in this important foreign-policy and diplomacy issue.

STEFAN ISSARESCU

Providence, R.I.

Gun control advocates stoop to emotionalism in debate

In your Feb. 21 editorial "Gun-free gun shows," you comment: "But it's rather hard to understand, on a logical level, what 'public safety' purpose is served by making life harder for people without criminal records, who pass background checks and who are buying their firearms in a perfectly lawful manner. These people are not the problem."

Most gun control advocates (gun grabbers), by dint of their arguments for restricting legal sales of firearms, appear to have an irrational fear of the American citizenry. To them, we're all seemingly just one step away from sheer madness, or at least utter lawlessness, and only the absence of readily available firearms keeps even the most stalwart, law-abiding citizen from the abyss of gun-induced mayhem. "There but for the grace of God (and the lack of a .357 Magnum close at hand) go I."

The problem is the nature of the debate: One cannot pit logic against emotion and declare a winner. The claim that if even one child is saved, gun restrictions are worthwhile sounds noble and compassionate, but cite the thousands of violent crimes prevented every year by the lawful presence of a firearm and watch the ad hominem attacks fly (though the assertion remains unanswered). Worse, argue that saving many innocent lives is a valid tradeoff for losing a few innocent lives, and one is branded heartless.

Gun grabbers feign ignorance of the obvious: Criminals do not obey laws. Given that lack of intellectual honesty, how can one even launch a debate? It's impossible. But then, that's not their goal, anyway. Emotion trumps logic every time, without even breaking an intellectual sweat.

JIM MOORE

Panama City, Fla.

U.N. official and his unusual 'Christian values' about Kosovo mission

In her Feb. 19 Commentary column "Defining the U.N. mission in Kosovo," Georgie Anne Geyer supports new U.N. Mission Chief Hans Haekkerup in his quest to construct a legal foundation for the future of Kosovo while asserting, "Serbia has no role in creating the legal framework."

Mr. Haekkerup is continuing the work of his predecessor, Bernard Kouchner, who also was a proponent of the NATO occupation of Kosovo. Mr. Haekkerup said the support for NATO and U.N. involvement "wasn't religious … but the values behind it were very much Christian values."

Miss Geyer conducted her interview with Mr. Haekkerup in a former Kosovo government building a building that is half-destroyed. I am sure if she had looked out of the window, she might have seen the ruins of many desecrated churches of the Serbian Orthodox Church. These once pristine buildings have been vandalized, burned and blasted. Bullet holes decorate the icons; beautiful frescoes, painstakingly preserved since the 14th and 15th centuries, have been smashed; altar tables, which host the mysterious miracles of liturgical life, have been destroyed; and revered archaeological finds are lost forever.

The majority of these crimes were performed after NATO occupation and U.N. involvement. Yet the head of the U.N. Mission to Kosovo claims support for its efforts were grounded in "Christian values"?

Did "Christian values" dictate that the 1999 airstrikes over Serbia continue even on Easter Sunday, the holiest day of the year for Orthodox Christians? One day without bombings would not have interfered with NATO's goal and would have given the Orthodox Serbs a day of rest to worship their God.

Were NATO troops displaying "Christian values" when they stood by while dozens of churches were destroyed, leaving Orthodox Christians with no place of worship, much like the early Christians under persecution by Rome?

Did "Christian values" prompt NATO and the United Nations to take action against the Serbs but stand by noncommittally while the Albanians engaged in revenge crimes?

Conditions in Kosovo after U.N. involvement have worsened, not improved. In the past five months, more than 70 Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries have been destroyed. This is indicative of a systematic strategy, not merely random acts of violence. The Serbian culture is poised to be annihilated by extremist Albanian forces.

NATO and the United Nations, which were quick to come to the aid of suffering Albanians, cannot, or will not, deal with the uncontrolled violence aimed at the Serbs.

CAROLYN RAHAL

Alexandria

Would a president lie to us?

Now that former President Bill Clinton has assured us, in writing, that he did not sell pardons, why is there any need to continue with Justice Department or congressional investigations? After all, a president wouldn't lie to the people of the United States, would he?

JOSEPH A. PECAR

Silver Spring

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