- The Washington Times - Friday, March 29, 2002

Midway will reopen to the public

The Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, wants to set the record straight about gross misrepresentations of issues related to the decision of Midway Phoenix Corp. (MPC) to leave the islands ("Historic Midway shuts down," March 16).

The Friends' mission is to support the refuge in its environmental and historical goals. We have held annual meetings at Midway for several years and worked with MPC, its contractors, the Oceanic Society, fish and diving captains, and the staff of the Fish and Wildlife Service at the refuge.

The accusations made by MPC are false. Rather than list and correct all of them, we will focus on those we think are most important.

By accepting the transfer of Midway from the Navy, the Fish and Wildlife Service committed to improving the habitat for millions of nesting sea birds and for marine life within the coral reef. At the same time, it committed to preserving the military history of Midway. The refuge's tiny atolls are among the world's wildlife wonders.

To carry out its mission, the refuge sensibly established regulations to prevent re-infestation of rats arriving by ship, to cull ironwood trees planted as wind breaks that now impede ground nesting or pilot visibility, and to set aside a beach where endangered monk seals haul out to sleep.

Visiting the refuge is an experience of a lifetime. One can walk among the "goonies," duck beneath the petrels, watch scarlet tropic birds nestled under bushes, and gaze at huge tropical fish in the blue-green waters. All this could be lost without care.

Equally important are the extraordinary World War II monuments commemorating the Battle of Midway. The Navy demolished most of the collapsing buildings, but efforts have begun to restore others. A visitor can stand beside a canon or a memorial plaque and imagine our planes attacking the Japanese fleet, a turning point in the war. Three flags remind us that the beautiful peace of these islands was once broken by a brave air battle against enormous odds.

Each year since 1996, the Fish and Wildlife Service has encouraged memorial services at Midway. In June 2001, we Friends were privileged to stand with groups of veterans in quiet remembrance. We plan to return for the Navy's celebration of the battle's 60th anniversary in June.

The freedom to return is enormously important to all past visitors and to those who haven't yet experienced the magic of Midway. MPC continues to charge that the Fish and Wildlife Service never committed to visitation and will not in the future.

The original agreement between MPC and the Fish and Wildlife Service specified open visitation. The federal agency quickly determined how to have visitors without endangering the wildlife or historical monuments. The "regulations" MPC complains of are those it agreed to in the beginning and are in place to ensure that people will have wildlife and monuments to enjoy when they come.

We who rode bikes to the galley for meals or to explore the island and who slept in Bravo or Charlie barracks are grateful to MPC for the accommodations it provided for visitors. The Fish and Wildlife Service is committed to finding other partners to make similar provisions for visitors.

In the interim, the federal agency has partners to help maintain the islands' infrastructure and airport, and the staff is on site to care for the habitat. MPC's recurrent failure to pay for the airport fuel and to maintain safety codes were major reasons why the original agreement was breached. It is hard for us to understand why MPC officials would fling inaccurate accusations as they leave.

Upkeep and research are continuing on Midway. It will reopen to the public.



Friends of Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge

Sanibel, Fla.

World tax 'a solution in search of a problem'

In his March 27 Commentary column "Monterrey misgivings … and appreciation," Jack Kemp writes that he was distressed to hear me say that one day there could be a serious discussion on global taxes. I want to reassure him, and your readers, that in fact we are in full agreement with each other on the "wrong-headedness" of such schemes. In the March 20 story to which he refers, "White House spurns renewed calls for world tax," I argue that those promoting a world tax are focused on a solution in search of a problem: They don't know how they would spend such money effectively.

While Mr. Kemp quotes me accurately, he infers a meaning that I surely did not intend. Indeed, the gist of my overall argument was that the current proposals for a global tax in effect would amount to taxation without representation, because they would put money in the hands of those with no accountability.

The United States already pays what amounts to global taxes. We do so through our voluntary contributions in support of international regimes that are in our national interest such as supporting the World Trade Organization to bolster free trade. I certainly did not mean the kind of global tax currently being offered as a nostrum to cure unspecified and myriad ills.

I hope putting my quote in the appropriate context will not only ease Mr. Kemp's distress, but will also let him know that many of us continue to look to him as a voice of common sense in a world of muddled thinking.


Assistant administrator

Policy and Program Coordination

U.S. Agency for International Development


Cypriot Greeks, Turks have equal political status

The March 20 story, "Compromise for Cyprus?" while giving powerful insight into a complex and difficult issue, nevertheless contains certain misconceptions and misleading cliches that require a response.

For instance, the concept of majority and minority politics is not applicable in the particular case of Cyprus, where there have always been two sides and two peoples who, regardless of their relative size, have equal political status. The agreements of 1960 gave the two parties forming the then-binational republic "co-founder partner" status, while the secretary-general of the United Nations, in a relevant report to the Security Council (S/21183), described the relationship between them as "not one of majority and minority" but of two political equals.

Similarly, it is wrong and misleading to call the legal and justified Turkish intervention after the Greek coup d'etat of July 1974 an "invasion." This timely intervention saved the Turkish Cypriots from total extermination and prevented the complete takeover of the island by Greece, hence the destruction of the independence of Cyprus. It is significant to note that the U.N. organization has always used the neutral terminology of "intervention" in its official documents.

As far as European Union involvement in the Cyprus dispute is concerned, it is unfortunate that it may have already done its damage to prospects for a settlement by signaling to the Greek Cypriot side that it could achieve membership without first reaching a settlement. This leaves the other side with hardly any incentive to reach a fair compromise with the Turkish Cypriots on equal terms.

Any further involvement on the part of the EU, therefore, should only be aimed at correcting this wrong, by freezing the unilateral and unlawful application of the Greek Cypriot side until a viable and just settlement is reached on the island.



Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus


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