- The Washington Times - Wednesday, May 12, 2004

A clash of ignorance

Regarding Suzanne Fields’ Monday column (“Male humiliation, Muslim rage,” Op-Ed): First, the Islamic East has always embraced Christians and Jews, especially during the worst times of the Holocaust and Spanish Inquisition.

There is no clash of civilizations, just a clash of ignorant peoples and ideas from the East and the West.

The argument that Muslim men feel the need to control women is wrong and overused, especially because all evidence points to the opposite. Women in various Muslim societies continue to advance and hold high positions in their communities. Lest we forget, Iran has a female vice president and Indonesia and Bangladesh have female prime ministers, as did Pakistan in the past. It is not so in America. Women remain politically, economically and socially active in many Middle Eastern societies, such as the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Syria, Egypt, Jordan, Iraq, Morocco and Tunisia, to name a few. Middle Eastern Muslim men don’t perceive women as “dirty.” This idea is an extension of Christian theology, which looks down on sex. The abuse and humiliation of Iraqi prisoners isn’t about Islam or women. It has more to do with evil, which can take root in anyone, whether Muslim, Christian or Jew, in the West or the Middle East.

YASMIN HABEEB

San Jose, Calif.

Bush league

It’s amazing that you kept a straight face in presenting “Kerry’s fiscal irresponsibilities” (Editorial, Monday). Mr. Kerry supported the decisions that allowed us to eliminate the deficits inherited from President Reagan and former President George H.W. Bush. The younger President Bush inherited the nation’s largest surplus and in just a few short years turned it into the nation’s largest deficit. Yes, the challenge presented by September 11 required more federal spending. If George W. Bush genuinely cared about the deficit, he wouldn’t have borrowed money to provide tax cuts for the wealthy. Mr. Bush’s fiscal irresponsibility is in a league of its own.

CARL HENN

Rockville, Md.

Iraq and OPEC

OPEC’s insidious boosting of gas prices was correctly described: “OPEC, which produces about one-third of the world’s oil, prevents prices from reaching that equilibrium price by constricting supplies” (“The price of oil,” Editorial, April 18). However, the U.S. government has supported everything the oil cartel — the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) — has done for more than a year. When it occupied Iraq, the U.S. government became a de facto member of OPEC. It has a duty to provide policing and intelligence in OPEC’s program to shrink oil production.

It’s time to end this enormous conflict of interest with the American public interest. President Bush could remove Iraq from OPEC with the stroke of a pen. We wish he would.

CARL OLSON

Chairman

State Department Watch

Washington

Enormous difference between rifles

Letters you published last week about the Violence Policy Center’s study of .50-caliber sniper rifles raised points that bear correction (“One gun at a time,” May 6).

One suggested that .50-caliber rifles have been in civilian use since colonial times. The writer alludes to black-powder rifles, typically muzzle loaders, a technology antiquated in the 19th century. Black powder is much weaker than the smokeless propellant used in modern ammunition. It generates nothing like the range and power of modern rifles in any caliber. This is like arguing that the British Redcoats’ .75-caliber “Brown Bess” musket is the equal of a modern battle rifle. Try that in Iraq. No one wants to ban these black-powder relics.

The .50-caliber sniper rifle is a product of the 1980s. A U.S. Marine sniper used a Barrett M82A1 to take out Iraqi armored personnel carriers in the Gulf War from 1,750 yards. This is the same 10-round semiautomatic rifle sold to civilians.

Another letter suggested that there is no difference between a .50-caliber round and a .30-caliber round except for the size of the hole each makes. There is an enormous difference. It is why the world’s armies buy .50-caliber rifles as “anti-materiel” rifles. A standard comparison of power is kinetic energy, expressed in foot-pounds. A typical .50-caliber round leaves the barrel with 12,572 foot-pounds of energy. By contrast, a “hot” .30-caliber round leaves the barrel with 3,038 foot-pounds of energy. At 500 yards’ range, the .50 caliber is still cooking along at some 6,319 foot-pounds, the .30 caliber at 1,286 foot-pounds.

In other words, the .50-caliber round delivers four to five times the power of the .30-caliber round. This difference in kinetic energy means the .50-caliber rifle can, in the words of the Army’s manual for urban warfare, “shoot through all but the heaviest shielding materials.”

Barrett compares its .50-caliber rifles to rockets and mortars in its advertising and suggests that a single soldier with a .50-caliber sniper rifle is capable of taking out “armored personnelcarriers,radar dishes, communications vehicles, aircraft” and other targets.

If a standard .30-caliber hunting rifle can do all this, The Washington Times has uncovered the biggest military procurement scandal in history, and Barrett should give its money back to the Pentagon.

TOM DIAZ

Senior policy analyst

Violence Policy Center

Washington

Security at the Olympics

In their alarmist and prejudicial account of the Athens Olympics security plan (“Safety in Athens,” Op-Ed, Monday), Peter Spatharis and Victoria Toensing indict the world’s foremost security experts, the international community and U.S. government officials for purportedly conspiring “in silence” to subject their own athletes and spectators to danger this August.

On the contrary, a broad array of security experts, international organizations and governments have expressed confidence in the Greek security commitment. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has just said that “a tremendous amount of progress is being made with respect to security at the Olympics.”

State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said last week, “We have confidence in Prime Minister [Konstandinos] Karamanlis’ commitment to host a safe and successful Olympics. We believe that Greece has the will and the means to do that. And along with several nations, we’ll continue to assist the Greek security authorities’ efforts to protect the Olympics against a range of possible threats.” We agree that “we want the 2004 Olympics remembered for the athletes, not for tragedy.” Why else would Greece spend more than $1 billion on the most advanced and comprehensive security plan ever employed to make the Games as safe as human efforts and resources can ensure?

Security planning for the Games is by no means an unaided Greek operation. It has had the benefit of cooperation with experts from seven countries (including the United States and Israel), intelligence sharing, the resources of NATO and the technical skills of the U.S.-based Science Applications International Cooperation, under a $320 million contract.

In addition to the deployment of some 50,000 police, army, coast guard and other personnel, security will be further reinforced by aerial surveillance and strict controls on land and sea borders. Greek police staff have been trained by American experts, both in Greece and in the United States, and eight security drills involving every conceivable threat scenario have been conducted with the help and participation of U.S. forces.

In short, Greece, with the willing assistance of its friends around the world, is determined to make the 2004 Olympics a secure homecoming. Both athletes and spectators will enjoy a unique celebration of sports and the Olympic spirit, linking the ancient with the modern.

ACHILLES PAPARSENOS

Press counselor

Embassy of Greece

Washington

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