- The Washington Times - Friday, May 3, 2002

Don't leave Turkey high and dry

Op-Ed columnist Jed Babbin knows our Turkish allies well, and fortunately, the coterie around President Bush seems to have a better understanding of Turkey's concerns than the advisers who surrounded the first President Bush during the Gulf war ("Let's talk Turkey," April 25). At that time, a million Iraqi Kurds fled Saddam Hussein and poured into Turkey, saddling that country with a colossal refugee problem. To add insult to injury, hypocrites such as Danielle Mitterrand and demagogues such as Sen. Robert Torricelli visited and denounced Turkey for not ensconcing Saddam's Kurds in five-star hotels on the Bosporus. Turkey suggested that perhaps France could take some of those Kurds and settle them on the Riviera, but the French declined the offer. However, Mrs. Mitterrand ("Madame," as she's known to Turks) did take all of six Kurds doctors and engineers back to Paris with her. Of course, she made sure to check their teeth first.

On the war's eve, the elder Mr. Bush put his arm around Turkish President Ozal's shoulder and spoke of "my friend Turgut." Yet when his "friend" died two years later, Mr. Bush did not bother to attend the funeral, being too busy on the speechmaking circuit. Yes, Turks forgave that unforgettable snub. Yes, Mr. Babbin is right. Our Turkish friends will be there for us once again when the younger Mr. Bush makes that phone call. Let's hope this staunch U.S. ally is not left high and dry, as it was the first time around.


Paterson, N.J.

Putting pork in perspective

Donald Lambro's powerful expose on earmarks would be considerably enhanced if The Washington Times would translate the billions of dollars into dollars per taxpaying household ("Squealing chorus on pork barrel spending," Commentary, April 29). No one can grasp what a billion of anything is; the number is too large.

For example using rough, rounded-off numbers there are about 100 million households in the country, and only half of them pay personal income taxes. Divide those 50 million units into $1 billion in taxing and spending, and the result is that each $1 billion costs each household about $20 per year.

Mr. Lambro's $15 billion of earmarks, in other words, is costing the typical taxpaying family $300 per year an amount almost everyone can understand.


Ottawa, Ill.

Indonesia's rogue military

In the April 30 Commentary column, "Indonesia challenge," Theophilos C. Gemela advocates the resumption of close military ties with the Indonesian military. Opposition to such a risky step, which can be found on both sides of the aisle in Congress, draws largely on the correct assessment that the Indonesian military has failed to undertake essential reforms.

It remains a rogue military, regularly abusing human rights, operating illegal logging enterprises and other such ventures, and refusing to be held accountable for its conduct. Mr. Gemela's contention that the International Military Education and Training (IMET) program and other U.S. training might encourage reform ignores the fact that the Indonesian military enjoyed access to IMET for decades before it was cut off in 1992 with no measurable positive effect.

There is a further argument against resumption of close military ties with the Indonesian military. Mr. Gemela argues that "[t]he United States will not find a more eager and willing ally in the war against terror than the Indonesian military." This claim ignores that a number of senior Indonesian military officers have close ties to Islamic militants in Indonesia. The Indonesian military helped with the brutal Laskar Jihad's entry into the Maluku Islands, where these Islamic militants significantly worsened the ongoing Muslim-Christian conflict. Recently, the Indonesian military has turned a blind eye to Laskar Jihad's entry into tense West Papua, where the fundamentalist group is offering military training to local, pro-Jakarta Muslim militants.

If the U.S. military cooperates with an Indonesian military that has a significant "green" (Islamic fundamentalist) component, it would risk U.S. strategy in the region, intelligence security and even U.S. personnel.


Falls Church

Edmund McWilliams is a retired senior foreign service officer who served as political counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta from 1996 to 1999.

A natural-gas upgrade for D.C. buses

Cummins Westport Inc., the supplier of natural-gas engines for Washington Metro's transit buses, disagrees with your editorial page's interpretation of a recent emissions study by the California Air Resources Board ("Clean diesel buses," Editorials, April 28). Our low-emissions Cummins Westport C Gas Plus engine, in service with Washington Metro since February, is certified as 50 percent cleaner for oxides of nitrogen and 90 percent cleaner for particulate matter compared with modern diesel transit-bus engines available today.

The Air Resources Board did not test the C Gas Plus, but rather an older technology of natural-gas engine from a competitor. In the April 24 Metro story "Study gives edge to clean-diesel buses," your reporter noted this important detail with a cautionary quote from Air Resources Board spokesman Jerry Martin: "But keep in mind, the natural-gas bus we tested did not have the particulate filter, nor did it have a catalytic converter."

The clean and reliable Cummins Westport C Gas Plus has become the leading choice for natural-gas buses since its introduction in June 2001. More than 1,000 Cummins Westport C Gas Plus engines have been ordered or placed in service by major U.S. transit fleets, including Washington's Metro. One reason is that the C Gas Plus comes with an oxidation catalyst that significantly reduces emissions compared with the older-technology natural-gas engine tested by the Air Resources Board.

As technology improves both diesel and natural gas engines, Cummins Westport is confident that natural-gas engines will retain an emissions advantage. That is because natural gas is simply a cleaner-burning fuel.


Manager, media relations

Cummins Westport Inc.

Vancouver, British Columbia

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