- The Washington Times - Friday, July 18, 2003

Unions labor to improve VOA

Helle Dale’s column, “Forgotten freedom” (Op-Ed, Wednesday), concerning the state of U.S. public diplomacy, is almost completely on target.

We are finding out that there is no such thing as a “peace dividend.” In a world in which the distinctions between the haves and the have-nots are growing by the minute, so too is the fertile ground for resentment, anger and violence. With individuals willing to bankroll terrorist organizations to carry out violent acts, the world is still a dangerous place for Americans.

Mrs. Dale is also on target when it comes to the dysfunctional state of the U.S. government’s public diplomacy apparatus. The blame for this is not just errant legislation of the past. It is a reflection of the actions of the part-time Broadcasting Board of Governors, a group of political appointees, which has become a full-time problem.

The board, which supervises the Voice of America and its surrogate radio services, has skirted the VOA charter by creating unnecessary and expensive special projects that have proven to have little effectiveness in explaining U.S. foreign policy to international listeners.

Playing pop music for a youthful audience and calling it “marrying the mission to the market” is ludicrous to the point of being derelict.

Indeed, what has happened is that the board has failed to counter anti-Americanism by refusing to explain U.S. foreign policy and refusing to broadcast programs with actual substance. Coupled with the cutbacks in U.S. libraries and former U.S. Information Agency tours and exhibits, this has created a crisis.

On one point, we wish to take exception. In her column, Mrs. Dale writes: “For a variety of reasons, ranging from political entrenchment to turf wars to ideological passions and labor union control, the discussion over public diplomacy very quickly gets bogged down.” We are not sure what Mrs. Dale means by “labor union control.” Typically, officials like to blame unions to deflect attention from their own failures or incompetence. Anyone who knows the subject well knows that U.S. government management officials have broad authority under the Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Statute.

One right federal labor unions do have is to protect government employees from mismanagement, such as that exemplified by the board, by bringing to light the problems in an agency. Leadership over the two union locals at VOA has more than 20 years of experience. We know when things are working and when they are not. Now, they are not working. U.S. public diplomacy is broken, and it needs to be fixed.

The union leadership, with a sense of responsibility to our membership and the American taxpayer, has dutifully articulated our concerns to the Congress and the administration. That is what public service is all about.

GARY MARCO

President

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees

Local 1418

Alexandria

TIM SHAMBLE

President

American Federation of Government Employees

Local 1812

Sterling, Va.

Bring democracy to Iraq

With our troops under relentless attack in Iraq, (“Enemy force uses ‘guerrilla tactics’ in Iraq, Abizaid says,” Page 1, Thursday), it is time to take stock of the situation. The Bush administration’s decision to go in and remove Saddam Hussein’s regime was the right one. We have managed to take out Iraq’s ability to manufacture and market weapons of mass destruction for many years to come.

How about bringing democracy to Iraq? It appears unlikely that the Iraqis will embrace it when America is seen as an occupier. President Bush can make his next best decision by pulling troops out of Iraq and starting the next phase of the war on terror — discrediting the nonperforming and fascist Islamic militant ideology while reserving the right to use overwhelming force pre-emptively or in retaliation.

Eastern Europe was liberated through relentless propaganda which emphasized the superiority of democracy over Soviet communism. Finally, the truth got through, aided by nonperformance of the communist ideology. Similar strategy, yet to be implemented, appears to be among the best of the options in dealing with Islamic ideology.

As an expert on militant Islam, I have full faith in the president’s ability to lead the nation and the civilized world. We also need to make strategic adjustments in this long war on terror and not be married to one position.

MOORTHY MUTHUSWAMY

Coram, N.Y.

Preserving and modernizing marriage

In “Preserving the institution of marriage,” (Letters, Wednesday) Adam Thayne’s implied relationship between the government and the church is false.

Government can and has changed the notions of what marriage is for hundreds of years. Notably, it has done so without moral dilemma. Divorce is just one example that does not need much explanation.

Allowing homosexual unions would be perfectly in accord with the changes modern society has seen so far. Interracial marriage was frequently looked downed upon or was simply impossible. Going back decades, a majority of Americans would be opposed to interracial marriage, but the views and practices today are clear.

Comparing humans to animals or even pumpkins clearly has no point and is fundamentally insulting. To answer Mr. Thayne’s question, where will it stop? It will stop at humans, and homosexuals are humans as well. This obviously brings in the common ties to bestiality, polygamy and incest. There are crimes that are typically and erroneously lumped together with homosexuality. These are acts that have been disdained by society and governments for centuries, and there is no current movement to overturn this whatsoever.

In fact, homosexual rights is one of the only movements in this category that has a number of supporters that far outweigh the actual number of participants.

Old values believe in rigid family structure, one mother and one father, which is often impossible to attain. We see single mothers, fathers, grandparents, foster parents, foster homes, etc. all raising children. This is just how modern society works, and its views on this are again clear. We would never dream of taking away a single mother’s ability to have children. Plus, it is arguable by simple deduction that if one mother is enough, two cannot be worse.

Preserving the institution of marriage should always be a goal of society. Broadening its realm to possibly include homosexuals would not tarnish the institution or its overall mission.

ADAM COMIS

Silver Spring

m

Adam Thayne’s letter on Wednesday in response to Mona Charen’s “We … the justices” column (Commentary, July 12) touched on two central issues, which many conservatives have studiously ignored.

First and foremost, if the state cannot “redefine an institution it did not create,” as Mr. Thayne claims, then it stands to reason that the state has no right to define that institution in the first place. In other words, marriage is a private contract; the state has no right to erect barriers or entrance requirements unless someone’s rights are being violated.

Also, Mr. Thayne’s contention that the “ripple effects” from homosexual unions would somehow harm our society is ludicrous. His claim that such unions would upset “the delicate balance of affection from a mother and a father (woman and man)” is just so much fluff, obscuring the fact that many conservatives fear and hate homosexuality.

If this country falls, it won’t be because America allowed too many homosexual marriages. The real danger is that in failing to defend our enemies’ liberties, we actually jettison our own. Whether it’s homosexuals, drug users, gun nuts, paintball strippers or prostitutes, we must remember: They deserve the same liberties and rights as all the rest of us, whether we like them or not.

THOMAS H. DESABLA

Founder

www.realign.org

Silver Spring, Md.

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