- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 9, 2003

Cyprus and U.S. diplomacy

We applaud Monday’s editorial “Sorting out Cyprus,” which correctly recognizes why it is important to U.S. interests to pursue a resolution of the Cyprus issue. The Cyprus issue should matter to the United States, and its resolution should be a high priority in the foreign policy agenda for several reasons: to ensure stability in the southeastern Mediterranean and to benefit from its proximity to Iraq and the Middle East. In addition, it can serve as a unifying initiative between the United States and Europe.

However, your assessment that “the Cyprus issue has a reasonable chance of being resolved relatively soon” has one major flaw, namely Turkey. None of the factors mentioned as being positive — “elections” in the occupied Turkish part, Cyprus’ European Union accession and the so-called peace blueprint, the Annan plan — can contribute to a “relatively soon” solution unless Turkey changes its position. The Annan plan has serious flaws but is a good basis for negotiations.

The U.S. administration knows very well that the Turkish government supports Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash’s intransigence, and this is where the United States should invest more diplomatic resources if it wants a solution.

Indeed, the time is ripe for positive movement on a just and viable solution to the Cyprus problem, now that relations between the United States and Turkey are being reassessed. Despite Turkey’s refusal to let the U.S. troops create a northern front against Saddam Hussein’s regime during the Iraq war, the United States rewarded Turkey by giving $1 billion in foreign aid and by approving an $8.5 billion loan.

Given that a successful foreign policy “cocktail” should include the right mix of sticks and carrots, it’s past time for the United States to set specific conditions for Turkey with regard to the Cyprus issue. The United States, in its own interests, should condition aid to Turkey by 1) removing all its occupation forces and colonists from Cyprus; 2) supporting a settlement of the Cyprus problem through negotiations based on a bizonal, bicommunal federation in a sovereign state, the EU acquis communautaire, democratic norms, U.N. resolutions on Cyprus and the pertinent decisions of the European Court of Human Rights; and 3) returning to the government of Cyprus the Varosha (Famagusta) and Morphou areas under U.N. supervision for the return of refugees to their homes.

Until the United States pressures Turkey, the aggressor and occupier, to get out of Cyprus, the possibilities of achieving a just, viable and functional solution of the Cyprus problem will remain daunting.

NICK LARIGAKIS

Executive director

American Hellenic Institute

Washington

Racial divisions and self-promotion

Cal Thomas’ column about Rush Limbaugh (“Credibility ambuscade,” Commentary, Wednesday) adds aggravation to what Mr. Limbaugh already has caused with his arrogant and self-serving comments about Donovan McNabb.

Mr. Limbaugh admitted that he formulated the McNabb comments the night before the TV show, adding a sense of cynical calculation to inject race as an issue into a forum where it did not belong. This was a deliberate use of and deepening of racial divisions in America — to what end, racism? No, likely nothing more than to capture more fawning approval from his adoring radio audience.

It wasn’t about race; it was about Rush, a strategy right out of the Jesse Jackson playbook of using racial divisions for self-promotion. Mr. Jackson and Mr. Limbaugh just sell different flavors of the same snake oil.

I happened onto Mr. Limbaugh’s talk show the first morning he came back after the resignation his ESPN employer rightfully called appropriate. “I am a multitalented person,” thundered Mr. Thomas’ “humble” colleague. Yet moments later, Mr. Limbaugh was at an awkward and telling loss when asked by a skeptical caller to be specific about which individuals or events in the media he was referring to with his commentary.

He couldn’t do it and mumbled something irrelevant about Mr. McNabb’s contract negotiations and then whined about the caller “splitting hairs” when he pointed out that contract negotiators “aren’t the media.” His well-known racial innuendos (“The Jeffersons” theme song, “ax” instead of ask, when referring to some blacks) belies the so-called “respect” for blacks for which Mr. Thomas defends Mr. Limbaugh.

Mr. Thomas complains about “censorship” of Mr. Limbaugh — this is maddening hypocrisy. Freedom of speech has nothing to do with guarantees to a market and an audience, something a conservative commentator such as Mr. Thomas surely understands. I hold mostly conservative views and share Mr. Thomas’ desire for Mr. Limbaugh to seek help if he has a prescription-drug problem. Nevertheless, Mr. Limbaugh is a divisive force who does far more damage to conservatism than his listeners imagine. Mr. Thomas was today’s acolyte.

ERIC HAMILTON

Colorado Springs

What have they been drinking?

Recent commentaries by David K. Rehr, president of the National Beer Wholesalers Association (“Underage drinking,” Op-Ed, Sept. 26) and Steven Milloy (“Alcohol report anomaly,” Commentary, Sept. 30) claim that the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is a “prohibitionist” organization and that the recently issued, congressionally mandated National Academy of Sciences panel report on underage drinking should be discredited because of supposed “ties” between panel experts and our foundation, which Mr. Rehr also labeled “anti-alcohol.”

The mission of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation is to improve health and health care for all Americans. Illegal drinking is the nation’s No. 1 health and safety threat to teens. Far more than any illegal drug, alcohol is linked to the main causes of teen death: car crashes, homicide and suicide. It kills six times as many American youths as all illegal drugs combined. Those facts justify our committing $129 million in grants in 2002 to “fringe” organizations such as the American Medical Association, Mothers Against Drunk Driving and a nonpartisan group of spouses of our nation’s governors in 34 states that is focused on reducing harm from underage alcohol use and abuse.

Congress asked the independent National Academy of Sciences, perhaps America’s most respected scientific organization, to investigate the causes of underage drinking and recommend practical approaches to reducing dangerous alcohol consumption by minors. The National Academy, as it always does, selected panelists from among the nation’s leading experts. It did not ask the foundation’s opinion about prospective panelists; nor did we offer recommendations about panelists or about the panel’s findings. Those impartial findings clearly gall those whose interest is the marketing of beer and alcohol. We commend Congress and the National Academy for seeking solutions to underage drinking.

Despite the alcohol industry’s mischaracterizations of our foundation, we have no interest in returning to the prohibition days of the 18th Amendment. Our work is focused on reducing underage drinking and the many health and social problems caused by the illegal use and abuse of alcohol by youth. Our $129 million investment to prevent harm, reduce risk and advance evidence-based treatment pales in comparison to the alcohol industry’s estimated $5.7 billion annual advertising and marketing budget and the $115 billion in revenues reaped each year.

DAVID J. MORSE

Vice president, communications

Robert Wood Johnson Foundation

Princeton, N.J.

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