- The Washington Times - Monday, November 10, 2003

AID and Russian prostitutes

An Oct. 31 article, “AIDS programs anger Moscovites” (Nation), reports claims that U.S. Agency for International Development-funded AIDS prevention programs in Russia promote “legalized prostitution” and encourage Russiangirlsto”choose prostitution as a career.” The assertions in the article are false, and it is unfortunate USAID was not called for comment before the story ran.

USAID’s policy guidelines do not allow us to fund, and we do not fund, groups that promote prostitution or argue for its legalization. Either the organizations cited in the article are not funded by USAID/Russia or they are not engaged in the activities cited.

Russia has one of the fastest-growing HIV/AIDS epidemics in the world. To control the epidemic requires working with high-risk population groups such as prostitutes, but this in no way should be construed as support for their activities.

Indeed,USAID-funded health programs include abstinence and “be faithful” strategies. With high-risk groups, we also stress reduction of the number of partners and correct and consistent condom use. Our goal is to save the lives of children, spouses and others threatened by AIDS. Such careful and defined humanitarian interventions must never be equated with support for the legalization or regularization of prostitution.

KENT R. HILL

Assistant administrator

Bureau for Europe and Eurasia

USAID

Washington

Crossing over

President Vicente Fox of Mexico is quoted as calling for an end to human rights violations against Mexicans crossing illegally into the United States (“Mexico’s president lobbies border states on immigration,” Nation, Wednesday). If he took good care of them at home, they wouldn’t be here. Before we give further carte blanche to illegal Mexicans, how about the Mexican government reimbursing Americans their tax dollars for doing so?

How about all the jobs lost to cheap Mexican labor that otherwise would go to American citizens? What about the money we toss away providing ongoing health care and emergency medical treatment to illegals? Why should Americans continue to pay the cost? Mr. Fox is laughing all the way to Mexico’s bank, while we pay his tab.

PETER STERN

Driftwood, Texas

Algeria gets it right

I wish to refer to the map published Friday on Page A16 of The Washington Times, which describes Algeria as a “military dictatorship,” citing as sources for the map “U.S. State Department, Chicago Tribune, CIA.”

I cannot vouch for the Chicago Tribune, but I very much doubt that either the U.S. State Department or the CIA would make such a wild claim today.

The military did get increasingly involved in state affairs in 1992 at the request of the population, to protect the republic, which was being destabilized by terrorist attacks. As Army Chief of Staff Muhammad Lamari said some time ago: “In 1992, the Armed Forces opened a bracket that was closed in 1999” — that was when President Abdelaziz Bouteflika was elected as first civilian head of state.

We have become a multiparty democracy. Our last parliamentary elections, which took place last year, were recognized as being fair and transparent overall.

Mr. Bouteflika, more than any other head of state in the country, is known in Washington to have greatly accelerated the process of democratization in spite of the occasional terrorist attacks, which still occur from time to time in remote areas.

IDRISS JAZAIRY

Ambassador

Embassy of Algeria

Washington

Iraq reconstruction

Though I remain in wholehearted agreement with the administration’s decision to depose Saddam Hussein, I believe the view that we can impose democracy on a people who have no experience with it is at best naive and at worst dangerous (“A Wilsonian call for freedom,” Editorials, Friday). Democracy is as much a cultural attribute as it is a political one, and a transition to it after generations of absolutism will be a slow, painful and bloody process — if it happens at all.

Furthermore, unlike Latin America and Eastern Europe, Iraq and the rest of the Middle East are burdened with Islamic traditions that are diametrically opposed to the very sorts of democratic institutions we would have the Iraqis accept, further complicating their political reformation.

In short, the spilling of precious American blood to ensure the safety and security of our country from tyrants who threaten it was, without doubt, a worthy cause. But continuing to sacrifice the lives of our troops to install a political culture that emphasizes individual rights and popular sovereignty, notions not only unknown but unwanted by many in Iraq, is not the military’s job and is far beyond what our security demands.

What the United States should do at this juncture is begin to bring our troops home and unashamedly embrace the notion that we deposed Saddam Hussein because it was in our best interests to do so, and let the message go forth far and wide — that when threatened, we will act boldly, decisively and unapologetically in the furtherance of our security. As a sovereign nation among many, we have the right to do so.

STEVEN BUITRON

Baldwinsville, N.Y.

Get smart on the Senate Intelligence Committee

There must be some changes on the Senate Intelligence Committee (“Sen. Roberts must take charge,” Editorial, Friday). Sen. Jay Rockefeller and the Democrats are politicizing the committee’s work with the intent of damaging President Bush’s re-election bid.

It would be folly for Sen. Pat Roberts to continue with business as usual without extracting a price from the minority. After all, if Mr. Rockefeller and his henchmen are successful in their goal of defeating Mr. Bush, Senate Republicans could find themselves in the minority. Committee Republicans must act as if their jobs are on the line because they may well be.

JAMES PATTERSON

Washington


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