- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 7, 2003

One for all

Jeffrey T. Kuhner’s commentary (“Redrawing Bosnian borders,” Oct. 1) argues that the international community and its partners in Bosnia-Herzegovina have failed to set this country on the road to economic and political recovery.

This is not true.

The people of Bosnia-Herzegovina have come a long way toward re-establishing their distinctive and inclusive multicultural tradition; all of the country’s communities are, by law, represented at every level of the governmental structure agreed to at Dayton, and the economy is now growing at a steady 5 percent annually.

This is absolutely not the “economic basket case” that Mr. Kuhner has been told about.

The war in Bosnia-Herzegovina was particularly bloody because the republic was the most integrated part of the former Yugoslavia — Croats, Muslims and Serbs shared villages and towns, and the number of mixed marriages was higher than in any of the other republics. Nationalists tried to destroy this culture of tolerance by dividing the country by professed religions. That was what produced those dreadful scenes of terrified civilians being evicted from their homes by paramilitary thugs.

Mr. Kuhner has been told that this exercise should be repeated, but this time with the assistance of the U.S. government. “The Bosnian Serbs should be allowed to form a state with Serbia,” he writes. “[T]he Croat territories — especially those centered around their stronghold of Mostar in Western Herzegovina — should be incorporated into Croatia. The Bosnian Muslims would have their own state, with Sarajevo as the capital.”

What will happen to those who find themselves on the wrong side of this division? Who will police the imposition of apartheid and escort terrified civilians from their homes? U.S. troops?

Mr. Kuhner is correct when he notes that the international community is committed to keeping Bosnia-Herzegovina’s borders intact, but he has been told that the reality on the ground” militates against this. He cites as evidence of “Islamic fundamentalism” in Bosnia-Herzegovina a Christmas Eve attack on a Croat family by a young unemployed Muslim who had been under psychiatric treatment. Mindless killings by unstable individuals are not exclusive to this country. This attack does not support the thesis that “Islamic fundamentalism” is endemic in Bosnia-Herzegovina. In this respect, it should be borne in mind that the individuals involved in the September 11 atrocity were variously traced to Spain, France, Germany, Britain and the United States, where they traveled or had contacts, none of which are generally viewed as hotbeds of Islamic fundamentalism.

After September 11, the Sarajevo authorities took important steps to ensure that Bosnia-Herzegovina could not in any way be used as a platform for terrorist attacks of any sort, in Europe or elsewhere. This country is not a terrorist base, nor will it become one.

Bosnia-Herzegovina is not “a strategic bulwark against Islamic expansionism.” It is a small and diverse European democracy struggling to achieve economic lift-off. I suggest your journalist come and see this for himself, rather than retailing insulting and inaccurate prejudices from afar.

PADDY ASHDOWN

High representative for Bosnia-Herzegovina

Don’t play games

After reading the article about how the CIA is going to spend millions of dollars to design a computer game to train agents to think like terrorists (“CIA pursues video game,” Page 1, Sept. 29), I realized we had already lost. As usual, too much emphasis is being placed on technology and not enough on cleverness, perception or initiative. Does anyone really think that terrorists can be understood by playing games? While the CIA is playing computer games, the terrorists are plotting their next attack.

It must give the enemy a sense of relief knowing that the CIA is distracted playing computer games and not spending time coming after them. Instead of wasting time on computer simulations, the CIA and other security agencies should be putting their efforts into finding the right people who can track and thwart the terrorists at their own game.

Unfortunately, because of the bureaucratic nature of the CIA and other security agencies, the very people who might be able to counter the enemy would never get past the background checks. The very kind of people the CIA needs, the nonconformists, the mavericks, would never get hired because they would not be able to fit into the CIA mold.

Instead, the people the CIA hires to fight terrorists are the good boys and girls who went to good schools, worked hard, got good grades, did what they were told, didn’t get into trouble and basically fit in. They will become good organization men and women in the CIA bureaucracy and respectable members of the middle class, but I doubt they will have the cunning to defeat the terrorists on their own terms. They are probably the least likely people to be able to think and act like terrorists, with or without computer games.

JOHN MCGOVERN

Germantown , Md.

To set the record straight

As the only supporter of Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich quoted in Charles Hurt’s article “Clark appeals to party elite” (Page 1, Saturday), I was embarrassed at the misrepresentation of my comments. I’d like to set the record straight.

When Mr. Hurt asked me, “Do you have a problem with Gen. Wesley Clark only becoming a Democrat a few days ago?” I did not say “I don’t care if he joined the party yesterday. We need all the voters we can get,” as Mr. Hurt claims. I did say, “No, I have a problem with Gen. Clark supporting the war and having no discernible agenda. A person could have joined the party today and, if he had the experience and vision necessary to make a change that would be great, but Clark is not that guy. Dennis [Kucinich] is the guy.”

Note the difference in tone between what I said and what was printed. I do welcome Mr. Clark to the party, but not to the race. I’m glad he’s finally decided to support the ideals of the Democratic Party, but I’m unhappy that he fails to notice the irony that, while he criticizes President Bush for going to war without a good plan, Mr. Clark has entered the presidential race without a good plan. I do think we need all the voters we can get, but I also had made clear to Mr. Hurt that I believe only Mr. Kucinich actually will bring in those voters.

Before asking about Mr. Clark, Mr. Hurt asked, “Are you concerned that the other candidates are a sort of ‘Bush Lite?’ ” I responded with a question of my own. I asked, “Do you know the difference between a moderate Democrat and a moderate Republican?” He blinked and tried to think of something. I said, “Me, neither.”

I went on to explain that the reason the Democrats lost the White House in 2000 was that we hadn’t given any choice to America. The only choice was whether it would be Al Gore or George W. Bush continuing to underfund U.S. schools, forcing people with no possibility of earning enough to live on off of welfare, or making war on foreign civilians. I pointed out that 100 million Americans had not voted because they correctly perceived no great difference. I pointed out that only Mr. Kucinich has a perspective that is actually different from Mr. Bush’s, and that only by presenting a real choice can we expect to succeed at removing the current administration from power.

Through it all I made it clear that I was completely in support of Mr. Kucinich for president. I don’t appreciate the use of my name in a context that in any way supports the candidacy of Mr. Clark.

JUSTIN MCKEAN

Great Mills, Md.

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