- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 24, 2004

What about the Kurds?

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized Israel’s crackdown in Gaza and the West Bank last week. He said, “If a country wants to earn respect, it must accept other people’s right to live” (“Weekly notes,” Briefly, World, June 16). What about the Kurds?

The Kurds are distinct from Turks and Arabs and have their own language and history. They are occupied and oppressed by Turkey, Iraq, Iran and Syria. Until very recently, it was illegal to speak Kurdish in Turkey, and Kurdish nationalists were jailed. If Turkey wants to earn respect, it must accept the Kurds’ right of self-determination. Turkey should withdraw from occupied Kurdish territory. The Kurds only want what other nations have: independence and security.

Turkey is sympathetic to the independence of the Palestinian Arabs, but it should be sensitive in its own back yard. Turkey, Iraq and Iran should withdraw from Kurdistan.



Paying for Metro

Robert Puentes complains that Metro lacks a dedicated revenue source and contrasts it with the mass-transit agencies in Boston, Atlanta and elsewhere that are financed from a portion of a sales tax; the Birmingham system, which receives proceeds from the local beer tax; and others (“Deficits by design plague Metro,” Commentary, Monday).

However, subway systems do not make beer taste better or even raise the value of most of the products people buy in stores. What they do is make land more valuable. An apartment near a Metro stop will rent for more money than one less convenient to transportation, and this will be reflected in higher land prices. If we are to have a dedicated tax to subsidize Metro, let it be a tax on the land values Metro helps increase.



Canadian conduct

I was pleased to see an article by Arnold Beichman about Canadian politics on June 18 (“Shifting northern winds,” Commentary), even if several of his arguments about “anti-Americanism” in Canada are, in my opinion, somewhat misleading.

The federal Liberal Party, as presently constituted, is not, whatever else it may or may not be, anti-American. Prime Minister Paul Martin, the Liberal Party’s present leader, is widelyperceivedwithin Canada as being friendly to the United States.

Even under the Liberals’ former leader, Jean Chretien, the Liberal Party was not in any meaningful way consistently, or even often, anti-U.S. in its foreign policy.

For example, contrary to promises made during the 1993 federal election campaign, Mr. Chretien did not seek to abandon NAFTA or free trade with the United States. His government approved military support to international peacekeeping initiatives that required partnering with the United States, such as that conducted in Haiti in the mid-1990s.

In 2001, Mr. Chretien sent Canadiantroopsto Afghanistan to assist the United States with the “war on terrorism” in that country — a point Mr. Beichman’s article overlooks.

With regard to the Liberal government’s decision not to participate in the war in Iraq, the decision was taken because at the time America tried to persuade Canada to join the invasion, the American government was unable to provide the Canadian government with any evidence of collaboration between the al Qaeda terrorist movement and Saddam Hussein’s government, or of the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq — the United States’ ostensible reasons for invading.

As all the world knows, the U.S. government is, after more than 12 months in Iraq, still unable to produce evidence supporting either claim.

In counseling the United States to postpone invading Iraq until more evidence could be provided and U.N. Security Council support for the invasion could be garnered, the Chretien government behaved as a responsible ally should — seeking to prevent the United States, Canada’s closest neighbor and largest trading partner, from engaging in lawless and potentially embarrassing conduct toward another nation.

That the American government chose not to heed the advice not to invade Iraq before winning Security Council approval from Canada, France, Germany and other governments, which traditionally have been friendly to the United States, does not make those governments “anti-American,” convenient though it may be for American apologists for the Bush administration to pretend that that is so.


Executive director

Centre for the Study of Civic Renewal


A lackluster legacy

This responds to Tony Blankley’s excellent analysis of former President Bill Clinton’s legacy, “The Clinton legacy — oops,” (Op-Ed, Wednesday). In my view, Mr. Clinton will be remembered for three things:

• Turning Congress (both houses) over to Republicans for the first time in 40 years.

• Being just the second president to be impeached.

• Failing to respond to terrorism in the wake of the World Trade Center bombing in 1993.

Helping to restore the Republican Party to its glory days was no mean accomplishment and probably required a genius with a Rhodes Scholar’s pedigree. People often forget that Herbert Hoover was quite brilliant.

Getting impeached is not easy, either. Other presidents avoided it by dying early or getting the heck out of Dodge before Congress could nail them.

But as Mr. Blankley noted, the failure to respond in any meaningful way to the first terror attacks on American soil will be “Hope’s finest’s” penultimate achievement. It is hoped that the country will remember this if Hillary runs in 2008.



Duped taxpayers

I usually must rely on The Washington Times furnishing my laugh for the day from somewhere on the comics page. Such was not the case recently.

The front page of Wednesday’s Metropolitan section featured a story on Virginia Gov. Mark Warner, “Warner urges candor about raising taxes.” This article revealed: “Mr. Warner, a Democrat, said talking honestly to taxpayers and assuming they can understand complex financial scenarios is a winning bet.”

Well, I was a Virginia taxpayer back when he was campaigning for his current office on a promise of not raising our taxes. I understood him them and assumed he was “talking honestly” to me.

After his surprise tax increases were approved by our state legislature, we, the taxpayers, were informed that state tax collection had produced a surplus for the current year’s budget — this without 1 cent of the tax increase ever collected.

There is much talk of Warner’s bigger political ambitions. As for me, I have a feeling he will someday learn from the ballot box: First time, shame on you. Second time, shame on the taxpayers.



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