Wednesday, October 22, 2003

Financing the reconstruction

The shortsighted critics of President Bush’s plan to provide Iraq $20 billion in direct aid for reconstruction are more interested in playing political games than they are about the long-term success of American foreign policy (“Iraq help seen unlikely to emerge,” Nation, Monday). Many of the most profligate spenders in the House and Senate, who regularly spend our tax money like drunken sailors, pose as penny-pinching spendthrifts when it comes to the president’s plan to rescue Iraq.

No one can seriously argue that the Marshall Plan of the late 1940s and early ‘50s — a massive infusion of money into the devastated postwar economies of Europe — should have been a loan. Aside from the 11 percent set aside for loans, the Marshall Plan was an outright gift from the American people to the people of Europe and repaid our generosity many times over in terms of peace and stability in the region. The dividends that will flow from our aid to Iraq, in terms of a more stable and prosperous ally in the region, will also repay our kindness exponentially.

Ironically, some of the harshest critics of the grant to Iraq are the very people who scream loudest for the United States to forgive debts owed to us by developing countries around the world. Those debts — owed to wealthy Group of Eight nations — were incurred freely by the countries, some of them irresponsible, corrupt, socialist dictatorships, with the understanding that they would be repaid.

No one should forget that after World War I, it was the onerous financial burden imposed on the Weimar Republic in Germany under the terms of the Treaty of Versailles that exacerbated that fragile nation’s severe economic distress. Faced with a seemingly hopeless situation, people often turn to dictators such as Adolf Hitler — or Saddam Hussein — who promise a path to salvation. We cannot afford to make the same mistake again.



Setting the record straight

The reference to Euripides L. Evriviades as “the new Cyprus ambassador” in Monday’s Embassy Row column (World) is incorrect and misleading because Mr. Evriviades, regardless of his stated personal qualities, represents only the Greek part of Cyprus and not the Turkish part or the whole of the island. The Turkish Cypriots are represented by their own democratically elected representatives and officials, and any claim by others to represent them or to speak on behalf of them is morally wrong and legally null and void.

As for the oft-repeated Greek Cypriot argument that the whole world recognizes them and not the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus as a government and, hence, as the representatives of Cyprus, I hardly need to recall that this is not the only case of collective delusion on the part of the international community. A glaring example in recent history is the refusal of the United Nations to recognize or admit as a member the People’s Republic of China, comprising a quarter of the world’s population, until 1975.



Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus


Taking up arms

Army Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin’s latest remarks have to be seen as a whole and not just the bits Tony Blankley presents (“Gen. Boykin’s fighting spirit,” Op-Ed, yesterday). Gen. Boykin’s remarks about President Bush’s having been appointed by God and about fighting in the name of Jesus amount to the assumption that the U.S. Army is God’s army. They are not a testimony of faith; they seem to me to be glaring blasphemy.

They are not only inflaming to Muslims, but also to Christians of other countries as well.


Vienna, Austria


I am disappointed to see that once again, political correctness has forced a public official to make an apology when, in fact, none was necessary.

The recent apology by Army Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin regarding comments about earlier speeches he made was, in my opinion, above and beyond the call of duty.

Gen. Boykin’s statements were misinterpreted by what is, in the opinion of most Americans, an increasingly biased and vengeful cadre of reporters who seek to embarrass the Bush administration and the military on a regular basis. The fact is we are at religious war against al Qaeda, which has cloaked its murderous scheme under the veil of Islam. That war is thus one that both Christians and Muslims must fight together to destroy and eliminate al Qaeda for the sake of both religions.

If one takes a hard look at his comments, Gen. Boykin meant “they” in his speeches to mean al Qaeda and not Muslims in general. It would be preposterous to think that a highly educated, well-trained individual would make such a clearly inappropriate statement, knowing what the consequences would bring. Only the liberal media that flock to a potential story of embarrassment like cancer cells to a tumor would attempt to create a story (and thus generate advertising revenues) out of sound bites like these. I note with great interest that not one media outlet ever carried Gen. Boykin’s speeches in toto; those outlets only offered the delicious portions that created a story they wanted to portray at a time in American history when such an issue has never been more exigent.

Moreover, the comments of James Zogby on the subject are as hypocritical as the news outlets that reported them. Mr. Zogby, like any other American (including Gen. Boykin) has a First Amendment right to free speech; Mr. Zogby’s organization and its mission could not survive without it. Why then are public officials such as Gen. Boykin scorned for exercising that right by media that historically have argued that they cannot live without that very freedom? It comes down to this: In America, free speech is OK only so long as it is the “right” speech — or should I say the “left” speech?


East Petersburg, Pa.

The more you know

An article written by Julia Duin, “Libraries revisit Islam” (Page 1, Monday), implies that public libraries are being duped by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) into displaying a sanitized version of Islam.

In any collection of books, tapes, DVDs and videos on a subject as complicated and vast as a major religion like Islam, there is bound to be some controversy. Therefore, it is not surprising that there has been criticism of CAIR’s Library Project, which librarians encouraged because it made a diverse array of information more widely available at a time of growing national interest in Islam after September 11.

The public library has always been a sanctuary of inclusiveness, free expression and a diversity of views on many different subjects and will continue to play a vital role in supplying the information that will allow the public to respectfully explore and better understand different cultures and religions from around the world.

That is why libraries will provide the information necessary to help educate Americans about Islam. A well-informed population is the foundation for an active and healthy participatory democracy like our own.



American Library Association

Executive director

Enoch Pratt Free Library


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