- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 13, 2003

Divvying up the Iraqi pie

Has nobody outside our borders noticed that the money France and Germany are whining about (“White House defends policy on Iraq pacts,” Page 1, Thursday) is American money, not U.N. money? It is not in any way, shape or form international money.

Surely the American government has the right to allocate American tax dollars in any manner it wishes. It is, after all, a gift from the American taxpayers to Iraq, not a fiscal responsibility to the United Nations. The administration’s policy is both moral and logical: If you shared in the peril, you share in the profits.

It is greedyand hypocritical of France, Germany and Canada to demand a piece of the reconstruction pie. (“We already spent $300 million to support Iraq, so give us part of that $18.6 billion,” Canada is saying.) Let those supercilious internationalists demonstrate their moral superiority by pledging their own money to relieve the suffering of the Iraqi people — about whom they couldn’t care less, as they amply demonstrated last spring. Where is their philanthropy vis-a-vis Iraq? All these hypocrites care about is making money on the backs of those who paid the price of acting — and telling those in the trenches how to do the job.

What a travesty. The world is certainly upside-down when Western leaders demonstrate such a lack of moral character that they turn logic on its head.



Behind a smokescreen of truth

I respond to Thursday’s Commentary column by Gene Healy, “Healthy living through coercion.” Mr. Healy’s claims are, for the most part, inaccurate and misleading.Because we are talking about people’s health and safety, I want to make sure the readers have the accurate information.

First, the British Medical Journal article to which he referred was funded by the tobacco companies — no need to say anymore about that. Second, U.S. District Judge William L. Osteen’s ruling in 1998 vacating the Environmental Protection Agency’s classification of secondhand smoke was dismissed by the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in December 2002, saying essentially that the judge was wrong and there was sufficient evidence to make the claim EPA makes on the issue of secondhand smoke — namely, that it causes cancer and death.

Given that the Cato Institute (where Mr. Healy works) receives major funding from the tobacco industry, I’m not surprised at Mr. Healy’s manipulation of the truth. It is standard operating procedure for tobacco companies to misinform the public, as they did when they said nicotine is not addictive (and knew they were lying) and when they said they don’t target children (and knew they were lying). That is all well-documented in the media.

The fact that six states and 100 cities and counties have banned smoking in all bars and restaurants — and those numbers are growing every day — pretty much indicates what the truth is.


Director of advocacy

American Lung Association of Maryland


Nepalese politics: two right feet?

This letter is in response to Chitra Tiwari’s article “Rebel pledges to ‘fight till end’” (World, Thursday). It is clear that Mr. Tiwari’s goal in conducting the e-mail interview outlined in his article was to present the views of the Maoist leader Pushpa Kamal Dahal to an international audience. The views presented are extremely biased.

Mr. Tiwari correctly points out the facts: A democratically elected government in Nepal was replaced by controversial constitutional provisions, parliament has not met for 18 months, and the United States provided Nepal with material and nonmaterial military assistance. However, as mentioned, these are facts and obvious to anyone who has been following Nepalese politics. A development of the context in which the interview was conducted with the Maoist leader was necessary.

What one finds interesting in Mr. Tiwari’s article are the Maoist leader’s speculation-laden statistical claims. That the rebels control 80 percent of Nepalese territory is an assumption based on the premise that the territory includes parts of Nepal where the population density is zero. Whether the term “desertion” is accurate in the context in which it is used is questionable: The act of “desertion” under coercion is not consistent with the definition of the term.

The claim that the royal Nepalese army would have been crushed last year had it not been for U.S. assistance is highly suspect. The Maoist doctrine states the necessity of waging a “decisive war” and thus attaining a decisive victory. It is common knowledge that there was a considerable time lag between the declaration of U.S. military assistance and delivery of the aid. If the Maoist leadership were certain of a military victory, one begs the question why, with considerable time on its hands, a decision was made not to pursue a “decisive victory” and instead to regress to the age-old tactics of re-arming and regrouping under the guise of negotiations.

Also, it appears that the cease-fire violation (which is under investigation) that supposedly triggered the end of the last round of peace talks is a convenient excuse — there were flagrant violations of hastily prepared, unenforceable codes of conduct by both sides.

If the claim that 21 Maoist cadres were murdered by the army is found to be true, the perpetrators undoubtedly should be punished. The royal Nepalese army should, at all costs, remain accountable to the civilized, law-abiding portion of Nepalese society and must opt to fight the rebels by adopting a moral high ground. It is an unfortunate consequence of the pursuit of this moral high ground that facilitates widespread negative publicity and assists propaganda such as that presented in Mr. Tiwari’s article.

It is ironic that Mr. Tiwari should quote Mr. Dahal as being “little disturbed” at the United States’ listing the Maoists as a “terrorist organization” and a “threat to U.S. national interests.” If this act were so insignificant in Mr. Dahal’s opinion, or if the question was posed, in Mr. Tiwari’s mind, why bother mentioning it? One should analyze the geopolitical implications of being branded a terrorist organization, especially in the wake of recent confirmations that meetings between a prominent Nepali politician and the entire Maoist leadership took place on Indian territory.

Also ironic is Mr. Dahal’s claim that the proposed elections by the present government are part of a “conspiracy to put a veil over the militarization of the country and to hoodwink the people.” What exactly has the Maoist insurgency accomplished in the past five years? The effort by the present government to hold elections is as much a plot to militarize the country as is the Maoists’ attempts to form a constituent assembly using armed conflict as a means to an end. In fact, if Nepal is undergoing militarization, it is not a nuanced initiative, but rather a response derived from the need to protect ordinary Nepalese citizens from coercion, extortion and subjection to undemocratic processes at the hands of the Maoists.

Last but not least, Mr. Tiwari’s rehash of the rebel leader’s claim that the last round of peace negotiations failed because the “government rejected his party’s demand for democratic rule” is shocking. Then again, given the slogan printed on the Nepali Maoists’ Web site “that political power grows out of the barrel of a gun,” it may be too much to request Mr. Dahal to revisit the definition of democracy and, if he is in agreement with the term’s underlying norms, to disarm and enter the political mainstream in Nepal.


New York

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