- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 24, 2001

European Union has gone bananas

Dole Food Co.'s recent Op-Ed column attacking the parties working to resolve the long-standing banana dispute between the United States and the European Union reflects a fundamental lack of understanding about trade law ("The banana wars, " March 9).

Contrary to the claim by David H. Murdock, Dole's chairman and chief executive officer, Europe's latest "solution" is not "heading in the right direction." The European Union's so-called "first-come, first-served" scheme is at least as inconsistent with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules as the current illegal policy and would continue to discriminate against Latin American banana growers and non-European companies. Virtually all the countries that supply bananas even the African, Caribbean and Pacific (ACP) nations oppose the proposal and consider it to be in violation of WTO rules.

The proposal would continue the European Union's WTO-inconsistent practice of operating two separate import arrangements for its banana market a highly restrictive quota imposed on bananas from Latin America, with virtually free access for bananas from ACP nations. This would mean that bananas entering from Latin American nations would face the heavy burdens and costs of a "first-come, first-served" system, while bananas from ACP countries would enjoy essentially "all-come, all-served" treatment. Mr. Murdock might consider this "pro free trade," but the WTO calls it discriminatory and illegal.

The only equitable and WTO-consistent solution is for Europe to end all licensing discrimination and restore the entry rights unlawfully taken away in 1993. This is the position put forth by the Caribbean nations with strong support from the United States and eight Latin American countries.

After eight international rulings against the European Union's banana policy, no one should question why Democratic and Republican administrations and a bipartisan majority in Congress are insisting on Europe's full compliance. Likewise, no one should treat lightly the WTO finding that Chiquita Brands has suffered more than $1.5 billion in injury from the European regime since 1993. The real mystery is why Dole is criticizing U.S. efforts to ensure that the trade rules are honored and defending the European Union's continuing disregard for international agreements.



Chief operating officer

Chiquita Brands International


Champagne rents in caviar towers

Is there no end to the number of politicians feeding at the public trough? Now Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton is renting a half-million-dollar office in a Manhattan high-rise, compliments of the American taxpayer, while pontificating on the Senate floor about her advocacy of the poor and downtrodden.

What is it going to take before the public has had enough of this hypercritically arrogant rip-off of the national Treasury? While Sens. John McCain, Arizona Republican, and Russell D. Feingold, Wisconsin Democrat, are struggling to pass a campaign finance bill, other Senate and House members are fighting tooth and nail to thwart them.

It has often been said that we get the government we deserve. If people refuse to speak out against this thievery with phone calls and letters to their representatives, they had better be prepared to ante up a lot more of their income to keep the rogues in champagne and caviar.


Flower Mound, Texas

Admiral may sink impartial court

It's unnerving to find the Bush administration putting a foreign government official on an American investigative body ("Lunch delayed submarine's schedule, " March 6). This is a questionable and needless abandonment of sovereignty.

A Japanese admiral sits on the U.S. Navy Court of Inquiry looking into the collision of the USS Greeneville submarine with the Japanese fishing boat Ehime Maru. Adm. Isamu Ozawa participates but cannot vote.

No matter what sympathies we may have for the victims of the collision, our justice system can handle it well enough. The inquiry has to start with the presumption of innocence. What has been done to the Navy Court of Inquiry, however, is analogous to putting relatives of victims into a jury room. It is unreasonable to expect that Adm. Ozawa's presence will not hinder the court's ability to be impartial. No wonder Cmdr. Scott Waddle's attorney objected.

What kind of precedent does this set in foreign affairs? It certainly is not called for in the U.S.-Japanese bilateral defense agreement. Is the Bush administration going to invite other foreign officials to sit in on administrative and judicial panels? Are other countries going to tolerate U.S. government officials intervening in their administrative and judicial bodies?

Let's stop the process now. The Japanese admiral should be able to observe the proceedings just as any other interested person would.



State Department Watch


Can the pen plug proliferation?

Frank J. Gaffney's latest Commentary column boasts that preventing war hinges on the power of the U.S. nuclear deterrent ("Critical mass, " March 20). What he misses in his Cold War-era theory is that maintaining the nuclear arsenal cannot possibly lead to threat reduction. The best way to guarantee national security is by halting nuclear weapons technology proliferation through diplomatic means.

Myriad regimes and treaties exist for this purpose, but making them potent requires U.S. leadership to set the example. For instance, the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), if enforced properly, would restrain transfers of sensitive military equipment to "rogue" states.

Washington itself must refrain from exporting technology to allies, thus overriding the MTCR. Yet the United States may transfer such items to some European countries if it moves forward with the proposed National Missile Defense system. Would a U.S. breach of the agreement inspire Russia and China to uphold the regime?

Scaling down the U.S. arsenal would be yet another way the Bush administration could show diplomatic leadership to reduce the nuclear threat. Reducing the number of nuclear weapons as laid out in the START II Treaty, with the goal of achieving total elimination as professed in the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, would strengthen those international agreements, as well as Washington's clout.

The United States can maintain a fortress, or it can look for ways to open doors diplomatically. The latter is a far safer option in the "unpredictable" world Mr. Gaffney seeks to shut out.



British American Security Information Council (BASIC)



Thursday's op-ed by Raymond J. Keating, "A league of his own" incorrectly stated that this Sunday, March 25 will mark Opening Day of the baseball season. Opening Day is Monday, April 2.

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