Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Bullets, money and ballots in Iraq

The “Three-pronged Iraq strategy” outlined by Austin Bay (Commentary, Friday) is insightful but needs qualification. The Iraqi people must believe their government can bring security and economic prosperity before Iraq can have successful elections.

Bullets, money and ballots are useful tools for focusing coalition strategy on the Iraqi government’s capabilities. First, security operations should not focus on a large conventional military force. Instead, Iraqi-manned civil-defenseforcesshouldbe responsible for security in their own regions. Local forces with a vested interest in success and specialized knowledge of the area can fight with vigilance and precision.

A more secure Iraq would invite financial stability. Although aid is still needed, Iraqi entrepreneurship is far more important. If the Iraqi government establishes a court system to protect private property and a banking system, it can help Iraqis believe that they can gain financial well-being. If Iraqis trust that the economy can make them prosperous, the nation can avoid Afghanistan’s drug quagmire and foster appreciation for the free market.

Safety and prosperity will drive Iraqis to the polls. Iraqis will support their democratically elected government if they trust the ability of their leaders to protect their interests.



Bullets, money and ballots will work together to create security, prosperity and stability in Iraq. As a result, the insurgency will lose popular support and eventually be defeated.

ALISON M. FINCHER

Senior research assistant

National Defense Council Foundation

Alexandria

Kerry, Nantucket and the flag

I am a crew member on a high-speed ferry boat to Nantucket, R.I. Every day, as I enter Nantucket Harbor, I round Brant Point and Sen. John Kerry’s summer home. Mr. Kerry flies the flag prominently atop a flagpole on his beautifully manicured oceanfront property.

It really irks me, however, that the flag is never taken down at sunset or, as an alternative, illuminated at night. It would seem to me that a person who wants to be president would show proper respect and observance of protocol for the Stars and Stripes. People are dying to protect his and our way of life. Our flag represents their ultimate sacrifice. Some people might call this a petty concern. If it’s so petty, then lower the flag and be done with it. Proper respect requires that much.

I have called Mr. Kerry’s office to inquire about this. Yet the flag remains as is. It’s too bad Mr. Kerry doesn’t take the simple step of honoring the flag by treating it properly. It concerns me that he’d overlook such a detail.

TADBALDWIN

West Dennis, Mass.

In Sudan, echoes of the Holocaust

Nat Hentoff notes that the United States recently acknowledged that mostly Arab militias are engaging in genocide against mostly black African groups in the Sudan (“The U.N. is hopeless,” Op-Ed, Monday). He writes that “just saying that chilling word ‘genocide,’ as Mr. Bush, Mr. Powell and others have done, doesn’t make it disappear.”

The gap between recognizing genocide and taking action to stop it was likewise evident during the Holocaust. On Dec. 17, 1942, the Allies publicly acknowledged that German authorities were following through on Hitler’s well-known promises to murder Europe’s Jews. An estimated 2 million Jews had already been killed. But millions more were still alive, and many could have been saved — if only the United States had acted.

Franklin D. Roosevelt’s administration took no meaningful steps until early 1944. Even then, it acted only after more than a year of protests by members of Congress and rescue advocacy groups, combined with the prospect of a public scandal over the State Department’s deliberate obstruction of rescue opportunities.

In January 1944, with Congress poised to pass a resolution urging the creation of a U.S. government agency to rescue refugees, Mr. Roosevelt reluctantly and belatedly established the War Refugee Board. Despite inadequate funding from the administration, the group played a major role in the rescue of an estimated 200,000 Jews during the final 15 months of the war — an illustration of what might have been accomplished if the United States had acted earlier.

Today, it is a reminder that time is running out for the victims of genocide in Sudan.

RAFAEL MEDOFF

Director

David S. Wyman Institute for

Holocaust Studies

Melrose Park, Pa.

On teen sex, abstinence works

Many in the sex-education community do not understand the importance of basic medical concepts in disease prevention, specifically what we call “primary prevention” and “risk avoidance.”

In your article on safe-sex advocates (“Safe-sex activists oppose abstinence-only texts in Texas,” Page 1, Tuesday), you quote Texas Freedom Network President Samantha Smoot as saying, “I happen to believe personally that in this day and age, the most important lifesaving piece of information a teenager can walk out of a health class with is that, at whatever age they become sexually active, they need to wear a condom each and every time.”

I am not sure what Ms. Smoot’s medical background is, but as a practicing obstetrician-gynecologist and nationally published contraceptive researcher, I think some of the best lifesaving information we can give teenagers is the wealth of knowledge on the consequences of multiple sexual partners (which is well-documented in the medical literature), on the failure rates of contraceptives (also well-documented in the medical literature) and on the benefits of abstaining from sexual activity. A condom may not always be lifesaving. But abstinence guarantees protection from sexually transmitted diseases, teen pregnancy and the multitude of associated problems. Children need the facts.

Fortunately, because of the current quality of many abstinence programs, children today are getting the facts. And the fact is, when they have sex early, bad things can and often do happen. As a doctor who cares for not only adolescents but also adults who often make unwise choices regarding their physical and emotional health, I understand the importance of risk reduction and treatment. But whether it’s obesity, smoking, drugs or sex, children need a clear and concise message as to what the expected standard should be. Those adolescents who make unwise decisions should be referred for care.

Fortunately, the overwhelming majority of parents today want abstinence education, as documented in a recent national poll by Zogby International and by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy and the Scott and White Sex Education Program.

Abstinence programs set the bar high for children. It’s time we do that in all areas of their education. No mixed messages. Just the facts.

As a parent of two boys, that’s what I want for not only my guys, but all boys and girls.

DR. PATRICIA J. SULAK

Professor

Texas A&M College of Medicine

Scott and White Clinic

Temple, Texas

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