- The Washington Times - Monday, February 25, 2002

'Population bomb' theory is a dud

Commentary columnist Georgie Ann Geyer has a problem with those who believe that Secretary of State Colin Powell's advocacy of condoms does not represent sound public policy and that President Bush is correct in withholding funds from the U.N. Population Fund because of its support for coercive abortion in China ("Tilting terror's balance," Feb. 22). From that policy disagreement, however, she launches into a strange argument linking Islamic-based terrorists to lack of population control. According to Miss Geyer, terrorism is led by "societies that are overpopulated … and underfinanced." She identifies these as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Indonesia. Even if one accepts that those countries lead in terrorism and that oil-rich Saudi Arabia and Indonesia are "underfinanced," it seems odd to overlook that they are also virtually homogenous Islamic theocracies that are rife with political corruption and human rights abuses. Nevertheless, she insists that "there is no question that overpopulation is the major factor in creating young and deliberately suicidal terrorists."

Miss Geyer presents the now-discredited 19th century "population bomb" arguments of Thomas Malthus namely, that population tends to increase at a faster rate than the means of subsistence and that, unless it is checked by moral restraint or disaster, widespread poverty and degradation inevitably result. Has she not noticed that economic prosperity tends to reign in free, capitalistic countries and tends to lag in socialistic countries, irrespective of the population density? In a free economy, people are a valued natural resource.

Miss Geyer tries to prove her Malthusian theories by advising readers to "just look at the countries that are working Taiwan, South Korea, Singapore, Tunisia, to name a few and you will find that every one began with active and tough-minded family planning policies." Is it rational to attribute whatever prosperity those countries enjoy to "tough-minded" (coercive) population control? While none are models of Western-style democracy, they are relatively free and capitalistic. To be consistent, Miss Geyer could have cited Japan, a country with a contracting population, in her model. But, then, how could she explain Japan's decade-long economic slump?

Instead of beating the drum for the United States to fund China's coercive abortion policy through the U.N. Population Fund, Miss Geyer could do better to criticize China's totalitarianism. Instead of calling for more condoms for Asians and Africans, she could help promote representative democracy on those continents, especially in sparsely populated Africa. Where is her concern that the Marxist tyrant Robert Mugabe, in power since 1980, has turned the once-prosperous country of Zimbabwe into an economic basket case? Political freedom and open, representative democracy attract capital, which creates jobs.

Near the conclusion of her column, Miss Geyer tells another success story. She names Uganda as a country that has dramatically reduced AIDS infections through condom programs. In the same issue of The Washington Times, however, one reads in the "Inside Politics" column of a contrary opinion. Speaking at a conference of Christian AIDS activists, Sen. Jesse Helms praised Janet Museveni, first lady of Uganda, for running a campaign based on "biblical values and sexual purity" to stop the spread of AIDS. No mention of that from Miss Geyer. It doesn't fit her preconceived model.



Narco-guerrillas make Colombia a potential Afghanistan

Had I not seen the date Feb. 22 on your report about the conflict in Colombia, I could have been easily convinced that the situation described had taken place at any point in the past six or seven years ("Colombian warplanes hit rebel turf," World). This is because nothing about the Colombia situation seems that new: The key players and problems have existed for decades.

For more than 40 years, Colombia, the oldest democracy in Latin America, has been struggling against the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and the paramilitary for control. In August 1998, when President Andres Pastrana's administration replaced the drug-tainted administration of Ernesto Samper, the country began to strengthen its democracy and attempted to contain the rebel groups. However, as we have learned lately, "containment" is not a successful policy.

The rebels were given a zone in southern Colombia in 1998, where they expanded their "dark-side" capitalism activities, which are centered on drugs. El Tiempo, a major Colombian newspaper, estimates that these narco-guerrilla groups bring in $100 million a month from drug sales. This revenue supports an army of more than 20,000 insurgents, a worldwide propaganda effort, and even a Web page.

For three years, the narco-guerrilla groups and the democracy-seeking population of Colombia were able to co-exist in a state of lethal, yet low-key turmoil. However, after the recent plane hijacking and kidnapping of Colombian Sen. Jorge Gechen Turbay, it would be naive to assume that the narco-guerrilla groups had been "contained" or that drug monies are not supporting the increasing terrorist activities.

Accordingly, the United States should be putting more effort into this potential "Afghanistan" in its own hemisphere.


Research assistant

National Defense Council Foundation


Administration garbles immigration priorities

Congress should reject any proposal from the Bush administration that grants amnesty to millions of illegal Mexican immigrants ("Bush Mexican amnesty plan resurfaces," Feb. 15). Such a move would evoke animosity among legal immigrants and send the wrong message to those who wish to enter this country legally.

As an immigrant from Chile who emigrated to the United States legally, I must ask why our leaders are so hard-pressed to make sure that illegal Mexican workers, versus people from other countries, earn their green-card status even though they have broken the law. Might it be an attempt to get an early start on the next election by winning over the Hispanic vote?

The current administration plan being pushed on Congress is irresponsible. If we, as a nation, are going to send the message that Mexican illegals can easily jump the line by breaking the law, we should open up the invitation to all of the 9 million illegal immigrants that the Census Bureau reports are currently residing in the United States.

Instead of granting blanket amnesty, we must address the needs of our legal immigrants to help them assimilate and realize the American dream. Census data continue to show that their needs are largely unmet. The high school dropout numbers for immigrants are devastating, and many adults are consigned to a low-wage ghetto because they have not learned elementary work-force survival skills, such as the ability to speak our common language English.

We believe help should first be given to our fellow Americans who don't yet speak English, so that they can escape the "linguistic welfare system" in which they have been barely surviving, before our doors are thrown open to a select group who have broken our laws to get here.


Chairman of the board and chief executive officer



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