- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 6, 2002

To aid is human

While I disagree with Helle Dale's view that there is a questionable link between poverty and terrorism ("Poverty and terrorism," March 20), I found the last line of the piece very refreshing: "As it is, holding the international donor community itself accountable for what is done with the money it doles out may be the best example we can set."
This is exactly what needs to be done to improve the record of development assistance.
Development aid no longer can be used as a subsidy for domestic interests groups (the policy followed by the United States and Japan) or as a way to deal with colonial guilt (which drives much of European foreign aid policy). Instead, we have to hold both the giver and the receiver accountable for what happens to the funds involved. It is all well and good to bemoan corruption in poor countries, but what is usually overlooked is that corruption involves two sides the rich country bribing and the poor country taking the bribe. Eliminate either and you eliminate both.
The rich countries can no longer absolve themselves of responsibility for what happens to their assistance money by hiding behind the fig leaf of "endemic Third World corruption." Instead, they have to:
n Target assistance via a structured, need-based analysis that links both a "top down" and a "bottom up" approach that can prioritize areas where assistance is needed.
n Put into place the monitoring infrastructure to make sure that funds are used to work toward achieving development goals.
n Capture the lessons learned from previous and current programs to better target future assistance.
n Channel assistance directly to the people who need it, through nongovernmental organizations operating at the appropriate level (such as local, regional, national, international).
The above will not eliminate human failings and the influence of politics from development assistance. But it would be a step toward increasing the number of foreign aid success stories and better measure progress toward development goals, which, by the way, should include the marginalization of extremists of all sorts (including terrorists).


Al Qaeda and the 'Blame Bill' bandwagon

Your April 2 front-page story "Clinton White House axed terror-fund probe" attempts to turn September 11 into another Clinton-related scandal.
Living in lower Manhattan, I would like to see justice meted out to al Qaeda as much as anybody. But casting blame on the Clinton administration for opportunities missed such as former federal prosecutor John J. Loftus' quote to the effect that failing to shut down some Saudi charities in 1995 might have prevented the September 11 attacks only serves to advance a right-wing agenda.
You would have to reach back a little further than 1995 to find the root causes of what led to the rise of al Qaeda.
Under the first George Bush, we fought the Persian Gulf war, and U.S. military forces have remained on Saudi Arabian soil ever since, inflaming anti-American tensions in the region.
Presidents Bush and Reagan also married U.S. Middle East policy to ties with the Saudi royal family, which has doomed our position as an "honest broker" in dealing with the future of that country.
Osama bin Laden's gripes with the United States began with our country's ties to the Saudi regime. So let's try to get a broader historical understanding of why we are in our present situation rather than jump on the "Blame Bill" bandwagon.

New York

Love it or leave it

Which planet is Michelle Malkin on? Her column, "Unhappy capital campsite" (March 30), is a diatribe against the District that packages every cliche that has ever been put forth about Washington. Sure, there are things about the District that none of us like.
But I want her to know that there are people in the city who willingly moved here (10 years ago) from Alexandria; who, in fact, do "have friends and neighbors"; who travel "alone" on Capitol Hill (on the way to some great restaurants); who spend weekends at cookouts with friends, never discussing jobs; who do not own a "beeper" vibrating or otherwise; who host and attend dinner parties at which everyone has a great time. Michelle, if you don't love it, leave it.


Just say 'yes' to drug testing

In his April 2 letter to the editor, "School drug testing no quick fix for social ills," Josh Sutcliffe misses the main point of Joyce Nalepka's March 23 letter to the editor, "Just say no." Her rationale for student drug testing was to save kids' lives and reduce drug-related school problems, not to "cure society of all its ills," as Mr. Sutcliffe contends.
According to the U.S. drug czar's office, more than 52,000 drug-related deaths occur each year, more than 19,000 of which are from drug overdoses. The remaining are from drug-related accidents, illnesses and crime. Recent surveys show that about one-third of secondary school students use illegal drugs on a regular basis.
Student drug testing is a proven way of getting dangerous drugs out of schools and out of children's lives. The U.S. Supreme Court has approved it as a health and safety tactic. Drug testing is only one of several health tests to which schoolchildren are subjected in order to protect their own and their schoolmates' health and safety. It has proved to be quite an effective deterrent to schoolchild drug use and school violence.
Mr. Sutcliffe is "seeing ghosts" in his anticipation that "[t]housands of young lives will be ruined" by false negatives or false positives. That just does not happen in the many schools already testing.
Now that the federal government, under the Safe and Drug-Free Schools Act, has approved student drug testing and provided the funds for local school districts to use it, every community throughout America should soon adopt this compassionate and effective schoolchild protection measure to assure that "no child is left behind" on drugs.

National Institute of Citizen Anti-drug Policy (NICAP)
Great Falls, Va.

Choose life

Thank you for your great April 4 story "'Choose Life' auto tags get court boost." We are working hard to help many states get the Choose Life license plate, and we want folks to know what is happening in Florida. As of today, tag sales have raised more than $800,000 in Florida, and there are 30,000 vehicles on the road with the Choose Life license plate.
The tag is now law in Florida, Louisiana, South Carolina, Alabama and Mississippi. It is working its way through the legislatures of Kansas and Oklahoma this month. Interested folks can read about the National Choose Life license-plate effort and sign up for monthly e-mail newsletters at www.choose-life.org.

Publicity coordinators
Choose Life Inc.
Ocala, Fla.

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