- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 14, 2001

Africa's Sahrawi people deserve self-determination

I was appalled by the headline of your Jan. 8 article on the Polisario, "Algerian rebels end threats toward racers."

Your description of the Polisario as Algerian rebels is inaccurate and surprising, considering that your paper has been one of the few to provide consistent news about the fight over Western Sahara.

The Polisario is, in fact, a political movement formed in 1973 by the Sahrawi people to liberate their country of Western Sahara from Spain. Spain promised them a vote on self-determination in 1974, but before that vote could occur they were invaded by their neighbor, Morocco, which today continues a brutal occupation against the Sahrawi people.

Tragically, the Western Sahara remains Africa's last colony and the Polisario is still struggling for the Sahrawis' right to self-determination first promised by Spain in 1974, affirmed by the International Court of Justice in 1975 and reaffirmed in 1991 by the United Nations when it intervened and established a cease fire.

The latest threat of a return to war that occurred this weekend was a result of the Moroccan military breaking the cease fire by crossing into free Western Sahara, that portion of Western Sahara controlled by the Polisario, in advance of the Paris-Dakar Road Rally. This provocative act almost led to war. The Polisario forces, however, showed great restraint and did not attack, citing their great respect for the "prestige" of the United States, which asked them not to attack.

Let's hope our country will show its appreciation by using all of its prestige to urge Morocco to withdraw from the territory, liberating Africa's last colony, and allowing the 170,000 Sahrawis who have lived in refugee camps for 26 years to return to their homeland.

SUZANNE SCHOLTE

President, Defense Forum Foundation

Chairman, U.S.-Western Sahara Foundation

Falls Church

Struggle over Bush appointments a battle of ideologies

Obviously, Linda Chavez is not liberal enough for the left to allow her to become labor secretary ("Chavez bows out as nominee," Jan. 10).

Her forced withdrawal is like blood in the Potomac for the sharks and barracuda circling Cabinet confirmation proceedings. Now the foes of President-elect George W. Bush can focus like a laser on their primary target, Attorney General nominee John Ashcroft.

The modern left-of-center Democratic Party is a coalition of disparate liberal lobbyists and selfish interest groups well outside the mainstream of American society. They practice the politics of personal destruction, as perfected by the likes of James Carville and Paul Begala.

Normally the loudest of these liberal voices is that of Jesse "No Justice, No Peace" Jackson. This has not been the case, however, on the subject of Attorney General Janet Reno's long overdue departure from Justice. This time, it was Ralph Neas, president of People for the American Way, who egregiously opined that Mr. Ashcroft "might make an excellent choice to head the Christian Coalition … but he is not qualified to lead the U.S. Department of Justice" ("Left-wing groups join now to stop Ashcroft," Jan. 10).

In 1998, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton defended her husband by placing blame on the "vast right wing conspiracy." In this vast battle between right and wrong, I gladly choose the conservative, Christian right over the vocal, liberal, anti-Christian left.

LARRY M. COLLINS

Laguna Woods, Calif.

Tenleytown tower may be profitable, but it will cost residents too much

Robert Cooper, an attorney for American Tower Corporation, excoriated me and other neighbors opposed to construction of the Tenleytown tower ("Objections to the Tenleytown tower have no candlepower," Commentary Forum, Nov. 26). Mr. Cooper's diatribe was long on invective and short on insight or compassion.

And he wonders why his client is having trouble convincing people that it has their best interests at heart?

It's natural for people to express a keen interest in structures that someone else wants to build in their neighborhood. Savvy builders earn a neighborhood's trust so as to ensure that the neighbors will endorse their projects.

American Tower professes to care about neighbors, stressing on its Web site that it works closely with residents to create "win-win solutions." If it isn't really going to collaborate with neighbors (and in this case it didn't), it should do the honorable thing and remove this sentence from its Web site. It also should anticipate communities raising a ruckus when they learn they were never consulted.

A recent American Tower flier sent to every household in Ward 3 says its new tower will actually be replacing three currently standing towers. In fact, two of these towers already have been demolished. The company's statement, however, has left the impression among neighbors that it will tear down the two biggest towers still remaining on the block, which it doesn't even own.

For obvious reasons, many have grown leery of the company's pronouncements.

Mr. Cooper mocks residents' concern about ice. That's a shame, since the issue is real. Ice from great heights can injure or kill. Last year in Chicago, a family settled a $4.5 million lawsuit after a chunk of ice crushed a man's skull and vertebrae, killing him on the spot. The family's lawyer told USA Today that his office is almost always handling a case involving falling ice.

Ice has smashed car windshields near several of our area's larger towers. The WRC and Georgia Avenue towers cordon off part of their lots in the winter to prevent any further mishaps. The proposed tower, however, hasn't any lot to block off. It's wedged between buildings, abuts the sidewalk and looms over busy thoroughfares. Those of us who walk, drive or work beneath the tower are entitled to question its illogical location.

Mr. Cooper portrays my neighbors and me as a wealthy, self-serving, power-mongering elite. Although I don't know Mr. Cooper, I do know that he is a lawyer working on a high-profile case and a former commissioner of the Advisory Neighborhood Commission; I'm a free-lance writer unengaged in politics. Which of us is closer to the levers of power? Should I disregard his opinions for the same reasons he so readily dispenses with mine? Or shall we engage as citizens and equals who happen to disagree?

Mr. Cooper accuses me of NIMBY (not-in-my-back-yard) myopia. Has he visited our area lately? Our back yard is littered with towers. Four of the five tallest towers in the District are in Ward 3. American Tower's structure would be the fifth tower over 400 feet tall in Ward 3.. How about someone else's back yard for a change?

These towers serve the whole metropolitan area; the region ought to share responsibility for housing antennas and other high-tech structures. Of course, Mr. Cooper is right that people should be free to earn a profit. But here's the rub: not at the expense of others. Building healthy communities requires promoting responsible growth.

With luck, Mr. Cooper will refrain in the future from demonizing people and stick with the issues. Everybody wins when people engage in civil and constructive discourse.

LAURA AKGULIAN

Washington

No respect

In response to President Clinton's cavalier remarks disparaging the legitimacy of the election of George W. Bush, Ari Fleischer, the president-elect's spokesman, said that there is a "tradition in this country of presidents leaving office with respect for their successors …"

The problem with Mr. Clinton is not that he doesn't respect Mr. Bush. Rather, he doesn't respect the presidency itself.

CLAUDE OSGOOD

Elkton, Md.


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