- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 2, 2004

Real action

Thanks to Robert C. Gotshall Jr. for his letter reminding us of the dismal failure of the Clinton administration on terrorism (“If only Gore could resign,” Letters, Friday).

If Bill Clinton had taken real action instead of bombing aspirin factories, chasing young women and looking to destroy the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, it is very possible 3,000 lives could have been saved on September 11. He didn’t, and now the Democrats and their leftist allies have shown how quickly we forget by managing to hide that failure under the carpet. They attack President Bush while acting as if the Clinton-Gore fiasco never happened.

ROBERT E. BRAND

Frederick, Md.

The first duty

It made me smile to read Jay Ambrose’s Monday Commentary column, “The duty to be extraordinary.” He quoted from the address he had given to graduates at Virginia Commonwealth University’s School of Mass Communications. I especially liked his challenging them to vote.

I often say that the two things I wanted for my sons were that they would be responsible and that they would vote. As they were growing up, I often would say this to them jokingly, but it made an impression.

One son left home to work in another state a month after turning 18 and graduating high school. It was an election year, and you can imagine how happy I was when he called after that Tuesday in November to say he had voted for the first time, without any prodding from Mom.

Later, the other son was away in college, far from home, and he sent for an absentee ballot the year he became eligible to vote. Both sons are very responsible young men, and I am proud of them for that. But I am just as proud that they are involved voters.

Thanks, Mr. Ambrose, for reminding us all that the “minimal requirement” to be “extraordinary citizens” begins with exercising our duty to vote.

WANDA SHOEMAKER

Fairfax, Va.

Assisted suicide law ‘unassailable’

I was pleased to see the recent ruling of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in favor of the Oregon Death With Dignity Act (“Court upholds assisted suicide,” Page 1, May 27). This is an important issue for all of us in Maryland as we look forward to passing a similar law here. The experience in Oregon has shown us two things: that carefully crafted laws allowing physician aid in dying are practically unassailable and that they work.

The law was passed by ballot in 1994 and survived a 1997 repeal measure by an even greater margin of votes. Then-Attorney General Janet Reno prevented the Drug Enforcement Administration from moving against the law in 1998, only to have the hunt resumed by current Attorney General John Ashcroft in 2001. Now the district court and the 9th Circuit Court have declared Mr. Ashcroft’s positions invalid. Obviously, this law is desired by the people of Oregon and violates no federal rules.

The law is working, too. Since it went into effect in Oregon, 171 terminally ill people have used the law to hasten death. That is only one-eighth of 1 percent of all the deaths in Oregon since 1998. Even more important, those are 171 people who were not consigned to a difficult, frightening or painful death, but were able to exit this world on their own terms.

None of the dire predictions regarding this law have come true, but many of the best have. This is a good law. It enhances freedom and furthers choice. It is past time we had one like it in Maryland.

JAMES PARKER

Silver Spring, Md.

Viable multilateralism

The recent dedication of the World War II memorial in Washington reminds us of the advantages of multilateralism.

There is a relatively widespread American perception that multilateral cooperation often works inefficiently and limits freedom of action. On the other hand, a fundamental U.S. posture in the world has been one of striving for multilateral solutions.

From lessons of history we know that transnational threats can be countered only by transnational means. In order to deal with urgent issues such as terrorism, the spread of weapons of mass destruction, poverty, health and environmental hazards, and to build a world where democracy and the rule of law are prevalent, we have to work within multilateral frameworks.

In this endeavor, the rest of the world needs the United States, and the United States indeed needs the rest of the world. As Europeans, we know this from experience. After World War II, the United States chose to help rebuild a severely devastated continent through a range of multilateral arrangements, including the Marshall Plan, the Bretton Woods institutions and NATO. The result leaves no room for doubt. Fifty years later, peace and prosperity prevail in Europe.

In Northern Europe, American engagement played a vital role for many years in counterbalancing the Soviet threat. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States has actively supported the integration of the region into the Euro-Atlantic security cooperation. The continued U.S. engagement in the Nordic-Baltic region remains essential.

Sweden shares fundamental democratic values with the United States. This is not diminished by the fact that we have different opinions on policy issues such as the death penalty, the International Criminal Court and the Kyoto Protocol. Sweden wants to strengthen the United Nations and shares the U.S. concern that the organization must be reformed to function more efficiently.

We believe in a strong trans-Atlantic relationship and in finding common solutions through dialogue. It is time to increase our efforts across the Atlantic to apply common experiences of multilateralism and work together to face current global challenges. Together we can achieve results. As we are all well aware, there is a difference between being right and winning the case.

Multilateralism, despite its shortcomings, has proved indispensable to ensuring viable solutions to the complex problems facing the world today. That goes for all nations, large and small.

BJORN VON SYDOW

Speaker of the Swedish Parliament

Stockholm

Fix what’s broken

Cheryl Wetzstein’s article on a recent report by the Pew Commission on Children in Foster Care summarized the report’s findings by stating, “If federal child-welfare programs and state court systems make some key changes, many problems plaguing the system could be resolved” (“Report finds foster care system ‘broken,’ ” Nation, May 19). We agree.

That’s why President Bush has asked Congress to double the amount of funding under the Child Abuse and Prevention Act. With these funds, states would be able to increase the number of families provided with community-based prevention services by more than 55,000 annually and increase the percentage of families receiving post-investigative services from 58 percent to 75 percent nationally. These increases are on top of the president’s earlier proposal to increase funding for the Safe and Stable Families Program, another source of support for child welfare services, including prevention, by $1 billion over five years.

States need more than increased resources, however; they also need more flexibility in the use of federal funds. That’s why the president also has proposed allowing states to use federal foster-care funds to focus not only on supporting children in out-of-home care, but on prevention and post-adoption services as well. By so doing, states would be better able to prevent children from being abused and neglected in the first place, diminishing the need for more costly intervention after the fact.

With greater resources and increased flexibility, we are confident states will be better able to prevent child abuse, reduce the length of time children who are abused spend in foster care and ensure successful adoption for those children who require it. Children are, indeed, too precious to allow a “broken” system to continue operating under business as usual.

WADE F. HORN

Assistant secretary

Administration for Children and Families

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

Washington

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