- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 18, 2004

Kerry ‘partially correct’

There is a rich irony in Tuesday’s editorial “Leader-candidate confidentiality,” which contains some inaccuracies even as it lambastes Sen. John Kerry for supposed problems with “credibility.”

It’s worth noting that Mr. Kerry is partially correct.

A number of foreign dignitaries have stated publicly that they are extremely displeased with the Bush administration and its policies. Among them are Hans Blix, former head of the U.N. weapons inspection team, who castigated the administration in a recent speech at New York University, and incoming Spanish Prime MinisterJoseLuisRodriguez Zapatero, who called the Iraq war “a disaster.”

The Times’ refusal to acknowledge that many Europeans are secretly pulling for Mr. Kerry reflects either ideological blinders or a deep ignorance of European politics.

SEAN PEIRCE

Cambridge, Mass.

Ignoring realities in Belarus

I was shocked by Ariel Cohen’s undisguised cynicism and misstatements in his “Farewell to Europe’s last dictator” (Commentary, Feb. 29). Categorical judgments always expose an author’s superficial knowledge of the subject. The author’s argument is impressively misguided: Because Belarus has not yet completed its transition to democratic capitalism, “the business of freedom in Eastern Europe is not over.” The author is quick in providing the required strategies for his idea of saving the situation: “[T]he United States and the European Union should…,” “the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe should … ,” and “Russia needs to … .”

The only players missing are Belarus and its people. Mr. Cohen must be reminded that it is the people who define the present and future of the country, while imported democracy, just like any revolution, ends in violence and blood. While trying to speak as an expert on Belarus, Mr. Cohen ignores the realities existing in the country, thus proving that it is the politically correct reaction, and not a firsthand knowledge of the situation on the ground, that concerns him most. Mr. Cohen is fully aware of the game he is playing and of what is most beneficial for him at the moment. What strikes me as very strange is that Mr. Cohen, by feeding openly false information to readers, seems not to care in the least for the reputation of a serious think tank, the Heritage Foundation.

MIKHAIL KHVOSTOV

Ambassador

Embassy of the Republic of Belarus

Washington

Who’s being dishonest?

It is quite interesting that Joel Mowbray accuses me of being “disingenuous and just plain dishonest” (“Preaching violence,” Op-Ed, Wednesday) for not condemning statements made by others that I did not hear, or remarks made at rallies my organization did not sponsor and for uttering comments that are twisted to fit his false scenario.

But then, Mr. Mowbray seems to be an expert on disingenuousness and dishonesty.

When he first called me for comment, he identified himself as being with Knight Ridder. When I asked during his second call if he did, indeed, work for the Knight Ridder News Service, the line suddenly went dead. (This probably was a technical problem, but I will adopt Mr. Mowbray’s conspiratorial editorial style and assume the worst.)

After contact was re-established, Mr. Mowbray said that he was not really a Knight Ridder news staffer but that Knight Ridder did distribute some of his columns. I contacted Knight Ridder officials, and they agreed that Mr. Mowbray’s actions amounted to an inappropriate, dare I say disingenuous, misappropriation of their good name.

Given the distorted nature of Mr. Mowbray’s commentary, I understand why he would seek to portray himself as an objective journalist instead of an agenda-driven journalist.

As I repeatedly stated to Mr. Mowbray during our conversation, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) has consistently condemned all acts of terrorism, whether perpetrated by individuals, groups or states. Just last week, in reacting to the Madrid bombings, a CAIR statement said: “These vicious acts of terrorism deserve the strongest possible condemnation by all civilized people. Those who carry out such crimes only generate revulsion for whatever cause they espouse.”

IBRAHIM HOOPER

National communications director

Council on American-Islamic Relations

Washington

A front-line force against bio-terror

In “Vaccination options,” (Editorial, March 12), The Washington Times rightly revives a vital strategy in the war against terrorism — equipping a front-line force of physicians to serve as first responders who can administer vaccines in the event of a smallpox or anthrax attack.

The challenge actually is twofold: to increase the pool of vaccinated health care professionals and to establish licensing, credentialing and liability measures to ensure effective interstate medical response to a terrorism attack.

While federal planning for terrorist incidents has focused on state and local agencies, effective preparedness demands a boundary-hurdling regional approach as well. National medical specialty groups representing hundreds of thousands of physicians are positioned to play a crucial role in augmenting state and local vaccination and preparedness programs, yet this potential has received scant attention to date from government agencies.

A government pilot study of several medical specialty associations would provide a full measure of these groups’ potential contribution. The government should work with the groups to communicate to their members the exigency, risk and benefits of smallpox and anthrax vaccination, with an encouragement and facilitation to get vaccinated. Such a program not only would help increase the national pool of vaccinated first responders, it also would help government officials hone the vaccination message to maximize participation by other medical professionals.

Besides bridging the gap in vaccinated health-care professionals, we also need to break down current barriers to physicians crossing state lines to assist in a large-scale emergency. Excepting a small number of individuals in the federal National Disaster Medical System, most physicians have no credentials to practice beyond their locality or hospital and also lack liability protection for volunteer service.

Credentialing and liability issues cannot be addressed solely at the local level; they require national consensus by all states on emergency licensing and credentialing standards. Congress can take the lead in preparedness by first consulting with the Federation of State Medical Boards and then enacting legislation to establish national credentialing standards and procedures designed to facilitate interstate assistance in case of a catastrophe. The legislation also should provide for federal liability coverage for qualified physicians who respond to a national emergency declared by the president.

As The Times has noted, the administration has made laudable progress in protecting Americans from a biological warfare attack. These gains can be further fortified by stepping out of parochial boxes and tapping into the reservoirs of faith and altruism of America’s health care professionals.

DR. DONALD F. THOMPSON

Monument, Colo.

JONATHAN IMBODY

Christian Medical Association

Ashburn, Va.

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