- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 22, 2002

Peace before freedom

In his May 14 Op-Ed column, Tod Lindberg looks for moral clarity in the face of a complicated Middle East ("In search of 'moral clarity' on the Middle East"). Yet, to most Israelis, the morality of our war is very clear. The only valid reason for restricting Palestinians' freedom is that they do not respect our right to live. As soon as they credibly concede our right to live free from violence, we will be happy to respect their right to freedom.


ARI GERSHON

Ramat Gan, Israel

Phoenix agent should be model for intelligence overhaul

In your May 21 editorial "Demagoguing September 11," you correctly write: "Given the abysmal performance of the Clinton administration in combating terrorism during the 1990s, it would be a huge mistake for Democrats to attempt to gain political mileage by blaming September 11 on President Bush." That said, the tragedy was clearly enabled by the incompetence of the FBI and its former director Louis Freeh not Mr. Bush.

In July 2001, Phoenix FBI agent Kenneth Williams showed initiative, imagination and a strong sense of responsibility by sending a memo to FBI headquarters in Washington warning of a possible terrorist attack by Middle Eastern men associated with Osama bin Laden who were taking flying lessons in Phoenix and possibly in flight schools in other cities around the country. Such talent is wasted in Phoenix. Mr. Williams should be brought to Washington as the No. 2 man in charge of homeland security and given the task of coordinating all information from the FBI, CIA and the National Security Council. It is time to seek solutions not look for more blame.


PAUL SCHOENBAUM

Williamsburg

Freedom to worship is best antidote to Islamic extremism

Islamic extremism has never been popular among the majority of the world's Muslims, and, as Op-Ed contributor Sol Schindler argues, it is losing support among its fragile and small constituency ("Decline of Islamic extremism," May 21). Mr. Schindler, however, dangerously ignores that this form of extremism is the product of forced and brutal secularization, most notably in the cases of Iran and Turkey.

While Turkey has improved greatly since 1924 in its relationship with Islam the religion of 99.8 percent of its population it prohibits Muslim females from wearing head scarves in public institutions such as parliaments and universities. American-educated Merve Kavakci was elected to the Turkish Parliament in 1999 but was prevented from being sworn into office and stripped of her citizenship because she wore a head scarf.

Because of the unhealthy relationship between democracy and Islam in Turkey, it is not an entirely positive role model for other Muslim countries.

Among the Muslim populations that serve as the greatest hope for their community worldwide are those that live in areas of great freedom, such as the United States (where Miss Kavakci now lives). American Muslims are taking advantage of this country's free and open speech, engaging in a dynamic discourse about Islam and how it regards democracy, human rights and women. It is essential that our war on terror not infringe on the rights of these folks, who can serve as ambassadors for our country to the Muslim world.

It was unnecessary for the State Department to hire advertising expert Charlotte Beers to win over the hearts and minds of the Muslim world. It has millions of American Muslims who would gladly do the job for free.


ARIF RAFIQ

Greenvale, N.Y.




Unlike attacks on Bush, blame of Clinton is warranted

Clarence Page, in his May 21 Commentary column, "Time for a truce," argues that Bill Clinton's "loyal opposition" should cease blaming the former president for the September 11 attacks if Democrats cease blaming President Bush.

There is a major flaw in Mr. Page's logic. Mr. Bush is being blamed for not taking huge amounts of disparate information from multiple sources, piecing it together, deducing the likelihood of the September 11 attacks and then warning the country an unrealistic expectation by any standards. The case against Mr. Clinton, however, is of a different sort.

While Mr. Bush is being berated for a lack of precognitive abilities, Mr. Clinton is being called to task for responding to events that were outright acts of war against our nation as if they were minor crimes. From the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center to the attack on the USS Cole, we had numerous indications that al Qaeda was engaged in a continued assault on the United States. Mr. Clinton, effectively, did nothing.

Had he mounted the offensive against al Qaeda when it first brought the war to American soil in 1993, September 11 might never had happened. The fact that Democrats are unable or unwilling to acknowledge this proves to me that they have chosen political survival over truth and the defense of our nation.


NORMAN HENDRICKSON

Bowie



Naive faith in trade will not help U.S. farmers

Although I usually admire Jack Kemp's work in the Commentary section, his contention that there has been "progress" in agricultural trade since the passage of the 1996 Freedom to Farm Act is not supported by the facts ("When a Bush veto is in order," May 16).

In 1997, the Agriculture Department projected agricultural exports worth $62.7 billion in 2000 and $66.2 billion in 2001 based on the 1996 reforms. In reality, exports in 2000 were only $53 billion, while those in 2001 were $55.3 billion. Exports in 2000 and 2001 were actually less than the $60.6 billion posted in 1996. Imports also increased about $1 billion a year faster than projected, further putting a squeeze on American farmers.

There has been no movement at the World Trade Organization toward opening trade in agriculture. The rest of the world has no desire to see its farmers wiped out by American exports. The anti-U.S. coalition put together by the European Union on this issue is large and solid, and it includes China, long thought to be the promised land for U.S. exports.

As President Bush said when he signed the 2002 Farm Act repudiating the failed 1996 approach, "farmers are hurting." A naive faith in "trade" will not solve the real problems of the American economy.


WILLIAM R. HAWKINS

Senior fellow

U.S. Business and Industry Council

Washington


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