- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 25, 2002

NEA's September 11 inquiries are anything but narrow

Tom Knott's criticism of the National Education Association's views on terrorism reflects either his own bias or his desire to be politically correct, post-September 11 style ("NEA not sure who to blame for attacks maybe U.S.," Life, Thursday). Anyone who believes U.S. foreign policy had nothing to do with September 11 is either ignorant of history, in deep denial or fearful of stating the obvious.
Several years before the terrorist attacks of September 11, the Cato Institute released a report that examined more than 50 terrorist acts against Americans during the previous decade. The study concluded that nearly all of those acts had been in direct retaliation to some unilateral U.S. action overseas. This seems to suggest a link. The opinions of millions of people who are on the receiving end of shortsighted U.S. foreign policy provide yet stronger evidence.
Mr. Knott and many others refuse to accept that our foreign policy does not reflect regular Americans' greatest ideals of life, liberty and justice for all.
Several of our Founding Fathers helped George Washington pen his farewell address, in which he warned against showing favoritism to any foreign government and getting involved in their ancient quarrels. Unfortunately, displaying preferential treatment has become the rule. We support any nation, including repressive regimes, as long as some American constituency receives some short-term political benefit or monetary profit.
Before writing his column, Mr. Knott should have studied the past 30 years of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. This country is far from innocent in provoking hatred. The only important question is: Who is going to hold U.S. policy-makers accountable for their errors in judgment? If we don't do it with our votes, terrorists will try by any means at their disposal. In an age of suitcase nuclear weapons, weaponized smallpox and a growing dependence on vulnerable infrastructure technologies, we may want to start interacting with the world in a more traditionally American way, in the manner of George Washington.

CHUCK WOOLERY
Rockville

South Korean anti-Americanism is always short-lived

As an American living in Seoul, I think Friday's Page One article "Anti-U.S. feelings rise in South Korea" is out of date and lacks historical perspective. The speed-skating incident at the Winter Olympics released a major wave of anti-Americanism in Korea, but feeling has tapered off in the past few months.
Anti-Americanism certainly has disappeared as an issue in Korean politics. In the spring, Roh Moo-hyun was riding high as the anti-American presidential candidate. (Elections are scheduled for December.) Now, his campaign has collapsed and none of the major contenders is strongly critical of the United States.
These episodes come and go. A similar outburst of anti-Americanism occurred after the North-South Korean Summit in 2000 and petered out after about six weeks.

PETER KAUFFNER
Seoul

Virginia's transit-tax debate misses the train

The misconception that the proposed Virginia sales-tax referendum would help fund the extension of transit to Dulles should be clarified ("Both sides gird for fight over transit-tax decision," Metropolitan, Aug. 16). Supporters of rail through Tysons and to Dulles should know that this project has a documented separate funding source that is not reliant on a sales-tax increase. Some local officials, including Delegate Kenneth R. Plum, Fairfax Democrat and chairman of the Dulles Corridor Rail Association, have publicly noted this fact on several occasions.
The financial analysis in the Dulles Corridor Transit Project's Draft Environmental Impact Statement shows that the project's costs will be shared by federal, state and local agencies. Importantly, the local allocation would come from general obligation bonds paid by a benefit assessment district not from a half-cent sales-tax increase imposed in Northern Virginia. In other words, the businesses that would benefit most from a transit system and increased economic growth along the Dulles Corridor have agreed to pay a tax that would go toward funding the project.
This project and some of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors' recent actions to improve land use around Metro stations are important first steps toward improving air quality and relieving traffic congestion in Northern Virginia. The sales-tax referendum should not be held up as a required element in order to financially realize the Dulles Corridor Transit Project.

ELISE ANNUNZIATA
Arlington

Zimbabwe chart-topper: 'Old Macdonald had a farm, that Mugabe stole'

I am curious to know whether the article "Mrs. Mugabe joins Zimbabwe land grab" (Page One, Thursday) made the Zimbabwean ambassador to Washington, Simbi Mubako, feel uncomfortable. He also recently became the proud new owner of a farm a 1,200-hectare (2,964-acre) spread in Mashonaland West province called Remainder of Between the Rivers. It formerly belonged to 50-year-old Adrian Wilkinson. The farm once produced wheat, seed maize, soybeans and tobacco and employed 140 men and women. Mr. Wilkinson and his wife were barricaded into their home and severely intimidated by ruling-party militants. They were then forced to leave after Mr. Mubako's brother informed them that their farm was no longer theirs.

ANNABEL HUGHES
Executive director
Zimbabwe Democracy Trust
London



The Washington Times is to be commended for exposing the atrocities taking place in Zimbabwe at the hands of the Mugabe regime. Just this week, the U.S. Department of State, to its credit, reminded the world that the elections in Zimbabwe were fraudulent and that the United States does not recognize Robert Mugabe as the legitimate leader of this much-suffering country. The large-scale theft of productive Zimbabwean farms by high-ranking government officials; Mr. Mugabe's political cronies; and his wife, Grace, represents not only a blatant disregard for the rule of law, but also an astonishingly destructive policy in a country careering toward famine.
Until this year, Zimbabwe was a food exporter. Now the United States is shipping corn to it on "humanitarian grounds." This food aid surely will prop up Mr. Mugabe and, worse, will be used to reward his followers and punish the starving opposition. One wonders how happy U.S. taxpayers would be if they realized that they are being called upon to bail out this despotic regime from its own disastrous actions.

EWEN M. WILSON
Falls Church

Fed pays off big-time to families of dead brokers, but not dead soldiers

One thing that really gets me is the amount of federal (i.e., taxpayer-funded) payouts to victims of September 11. We just sent out checks averaging $1.3 million to several victims' families, and more than 600 more are lined up ("Nine relatives of terror victims accept federal compensation," Nation, Friday).
Although it is difficult to put a price tag on one's life, it is even more difficult to comprehend why some victims' families are holding the rest of the nation financial hostage to their threats of lawsuits. And what about the U.S. servicemen actual government employees, for that matter who have been killed fighting the terrorists in Afghanistan? Their families' maximum insurance settlement is $250,000. Note that I said maximum. If any of those servicemen were tight on funds, they might have opted to reduce or eliminate their insurance premiums.
Private citizens have been extremely generous to September 11 charities. I think our government should not be forced to pay such ridiculous amounts to victims' families when at the same time it offers a pittance to the families of servicemen killed in the line of duty.

M. T. WOLFERSBERGER
Pearl Harbor, Hawaii


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