- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 6, 2003

Powell’s Geneva trip

Secretary of State Colin L. Powell’s meeting with the authors of the “Geneva Accord” (“Sharon aide says Powell’s visit to Geneva won’t help,” World, Thursday) not only will be seen as an endorsement of this unofficial peace treaty but, more important, also will be another catalyst toward reinstating Yasser Arafat as the only viable Palestinian leader with whom peace talks conceivably could prevail.

The Israeli leftists and their allies — authors of this document ratified by deposed Palestinian and Israeli leaders — are not the only ones who have again emboldened Mr. Arafat to demand concessions from Israel before new peace talks can start.

In meeting with these delegates, Mr. Powell has, unfortunately, fallen into the same trap he fell into when he initiated the Middle East peace talks a few years ago. His meeting with Mr. Mr. Arafat then and his insistence that Prime Minister Ariel Sharon negotiate with the known Palestinian terrorist — who harbors terrorists and funds terrorism — did more to resurrect Mr. Arafat’s fast-fading stature in the eyes of the Arab world and his own constituents than any other diplomat’s subsequent meeting with the Palestinian leader.

Mr. Powell’s stubbornness then in forcing Mr. Sharon to negotiate with Mr. Arafat is alarmingly similar to the arrogance he shows today. For example, he dismisses the Israeli prime minister’s concern that his meeting the authors and backers of the Geneva Accord — which Mr. Arafat strongly embraces — would be seen as an endorsement of the document that will neither bring peace nor put an end to the brutal terrorist acts Israel continues to suffer at the hands of Mr. Arafat and his ilk.

Mr. Powell’s endorsement will only embolden Mr. Arafat into demanding more concessions from Israel while being compelled simply to make more unkept promises to stop the terrorism perpetuated upon Israelis by his own Fatah forces. In the process, Mr. Arafat’s relevance will be reinstated.

Let us also not forget that Mr. Powell and his crew at Foggy Bottom were once quite adamant in imposing upon Israel the Saudi peace plan, which would obligate Israel to retreat to pre-1967 war borders — a disastrous plan that is exactly what the Geneva Accord requires and Mr. Arafat wants.

In its zest for a peace treaty of any kind, it seems that our State Department under Mr. Powell’s auspices has chosen to disregard the fact that returning to pre-1967 war borders would reduce Israel to a sliver of land barely 10 miles wide at the narrowest point, thus rendering it completely vulnerable to more attacks, not only from suicide bombers, but, more ominously, also from Arab countries surrounding it.

Furthermore, in trying to undermine the Bush administration’s foreign policy, our august diplomats at the Department of State also have chosen to disregard U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, which explicitly mandates that any peace settlement between Israel and Palestine be predicated on having secure boundaries for the young nation of Israel — the exact same principle President Bush advocated in his eloquent speech of June 2002 wherein he first voiced his support for a Palestinian state — two nations living side by side in peace.

Sadly, Mr. Powell will again have been the instrument that fostered the resurgence of Arafat power in the Middle East and, by extension, the very same terrorism that the secretary of state claims to be fighting against.

It’s a disgrace.


Palm Beach, Fla.

On smokers’ rights

I strongly disagree with the comments made by Bailus Walker Jr. regarding the risks of secondhand smoke and the proposed smoking ban in the District (“Council to consider stronger smoking ban,” Metropolitan, Tuesday). Mr. Walker, an environmental and occupational professor at Howard University and chairman of Smokefree DC, states, “The truth is simple: Secondhand smoke kills.”

While I agree that the truth is simple, Mr. Walker seems to have a huge problem, including with the facts. The largest study on secondhand smoke, reported recently in the British Medical Journal, followed 118,094 adults, of whom 35,561 were nonsmokers living with smokers, for 39 years. This study concluded that the results, although they do not rule out a small effect, “do not support a causal relation between environmental tobacco smoke and tobacco-related mortality.” In other words, according to this 39-year study, secondhand smoke does not kill, as Mr. Walker claims.

In addition, federal District Judge William Osteen ruled the EPA “cherry-picked” its data and “grossly manipulated scientific procedure and scientific norms” in order to skew results to support health-risk claims related to secondhand smoke.

This report, “Respiratory Health Effects of Passive Smoking: Lung Cancer and Other Disorders,” is often the basis for arguments cited by many well-funded anti-tobacco advocates. It is unfortunate that these people promote this kind of junk science to justify the wholesale hijacking of our personal freedoms and choice to impose a draconian anti-tobacco social agenda on individuals and private businesses.

With 169 restaurants voluntarily smoke-free, nonsmokers in Washington already have a number of choices. If the economic impact of the ban on businesses in Montgomery County is any indication, these nonsmokers will not and do not fill the seats of restaurants forced to conform to a smoking ban. Just ask the owners on the brink of bankruptcy. These businesses simply will cease to exist.

Some nonsmokers may feel it’s their duty to impose their anti-smoking values on other adults and deny others the same freedom of choice they enjoy. In their zeal to save us from ourselves, however, they seem to ignore the rights of individuals willing to accept personal responsibility for their lifestyle decisions.

People like us do not feel that “it takes a village” to raise hardworking, taxpaying, law-abiding adults. These are serious matters. This is not the time for people such as Mr. Walker to muddy the debate by spouting opinion as fact, hoping that if they make the claim loud enough and often enough, people and the press will buy it. Clearly, there are tons of data to weigh on both sides of the health issue. Ignoring the results you don’t like might work in the professor’s classroom, but not in the real world.



Behind closed doors

Later this month, Wesley Clark will testify in the war-crimes tribunal against Slobodan Milosevic (“Clark and Milosevic,” U.N. Report, World, Nov. 24).

The news that the Bush administration is insisting that his testimony take place in near-secrecy is unprecedented, but it shouldn’t come as a surprise. I can see two possible reasons for the administration’s view.

One, it wants to keep Mr. Clark out of the spotlight for purely political reasons. Or two, this is just another example of this administration’s total disregard for international law. Either way, it’s wrong.


Lisle, Ill.

Dean in ‘04

In an article titled “Dean raises party’s anxiety” (Page 1, Nov. 29), Donald Lambro trots out a number of common misconceptions and outright falsehoods about Howard Dean’s candidacy. Leon Panetta, who ought to know better, is quoted as asking the question, “How can you compete with President Bush on the national security front?” The short answer to that question is, “Easily.” We are much less secure as a nation under Mr. Bush than we have ever been.

The article goes on to tag Mr. Dean as liberal when, in fact, he’s more fiscally conservative than Mr. Bush or any of his Democratic opponents. The appeal of Mr. Dean has been underestimated by most pundits and talking heads since he entered the race for president. The Democratic Party establishment, as represented by Mr. Panetta, should be ashamed of itself for trying to subvert democracy within the party.

Mr. Dean will get the nomination and will provide a rough ride for Karl Rove and the Republican smear machine. Who knows? He might even win (an unlikely outcome for any of the other Democratic candidates).


Flagstaff, Ariz.

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