- The Washington Times - Sunday, August 28, 2005

The NCAA and misplaced priorities

The editorial, “A modest proposal” (Thursday), which deals with the National Collegiate Athletic Association’s decision to allow Florida State University to use its Indian logo and the name Seminoles in postseason play, is right on the mark. The NCAA has no business issuing rulings on what it will and won’t allow member colleges to use as a mascot since that is not its role. This is just another example of a bunch of liberal, elite college administrators trying to set sensitivity standards for the entire country. Florida State was right to threaten legal action; I wish more groups would defend their rights with like determination.

What struck me about your editorial was the historical background of the name “Indian.” Don’t highly educated “educators,” most with doctorate degrees, know the origins of the name Indian and why their ban is so ludicrous?

The fact that Christopher Columbus thought he had landed in India and thus dubbed the natives he encountered “Indians” ought to render all charges of insensitivity by the NCAA mute. But I doubt that the NCAA Executive Committee will give up on its quest to change the American landscape. Next they will rule that no postseason tournaments can be played in states with Indian names like Indiana, Illinois or Utah. And how about Notre Dame’s Fighting Irish mascot — I’m sure if they search they can find someone of Irish heritage who finds Notre Dame’s mascot offensive.



RICHARD W. RESSLER

North Olmsted, Ohio

Standing with Azerbaijan

The Aug. 17 Commentary column “Slippage in Uzbekistan” suggests that last month’s loss of a U.S. military base in Uzbekistan portends a renewed global struggle between autocratic powers and those promoting freedom and democracy. Though the long-term implications of this episode are uncertain, the immediate consequences pose a real opportunity for the United States to build a new partnership on the side of freedom and democracy.

Media reports have suggested that the United States may be seeking closer military ties with Azerbaijan to fill the security void created by Uzbekistan’s move. This comes as the people of Azerbaijan prepare for parliamentary elections that are expected to shape the future direction of our country.

The Azerbaijani government is reported to have offered basing rights in exchange for U.S. acquiescence to elections that may not meet international standards. As leader of the Azerbaijani opposition movement, I believe such an agreement would defy the desires of our people and the very essence of President Bush’s global democracy agenda.

I support the idea of an American base in Azerbaijan if done under the right conditions. A stronger partnership with the United States is clearly worth working toward, but truly legitimate elections are as well. Only by standing with the people of Azerbaijan in their demand for free and fair elections this November can the United States strengthen the foundations for any future security partnership — and strike a blow at the autocratic forces that persist in this region.

ISA GAMBAR

Chairman of the Musavat Party

Baku, Azerbaijan

Imaginary ‘non-debate’ on the Iraq war

In his column “The non-debate on the war” (Op-Ed, Thursday), Terry Michael appears to want out of Iraq right now, and claims, in frustration, that legitimate debate on this position has somehow not been taken seriously by the “housebroken” media. It’s rather presumptuous to believe that the left-tilted media, clearly against the war, is so stupid as to purposely ignore rational arguments from the “stop-it-now” crowd.

Mr. Michael’s claim, the major position of nearly every war protester and Bush-hater, is the usual — no weapons of mass destruction (WMD) were found, Saddam Hussein cannot be linked to September 11 and terrorism is feeding on our presence in Iraq.

France, Russia and Germany — even Hans Blitz at the United Nations — were surprised that WMD were not found. A decade earlier, Iraq clearly had what everyone seems to agree qualified as WMD and used them against both Iran and the Kurds. Even some of Saddam’s generals believed other Iraqi military leaders had access to such weapons. Complaints of incompetence about our intelligence service are based on the rather flimsy assumption, not to mention flawed logic, that our intelligence services should have better information than Saddam’s own generals and that it’s possible to prove a negative.

The war protesters ignore the fact that after Saddam’s defeat following his invasion of Kuwait, the United States incurred, for more than a decade, considerable expense maintaining a military in that area to ensure that Iraq could not again attack its neighbors. (Eight years of this were during the Democrats’ leadership, under President Clinton.) Meanwhile, during that interval, Saddam continued taking potshots at our overflights and managed to make one assassination attempt on a visiting American ex-president.

Any claim that Iraq was no threat to the United States is, indeed, not to be considered serious. Iraq clearly qualified in its own right as a terrorist nation, and our war is with terrorism. Iraq, just like Afghanistan, was a terrorist state. It is not necessary to be a card-carrying member of Osama’s club to qualify as a terrorist.

Mr. Michael’s strongest point may about be the Hatfield-McCoy-style tribal culture of Iraq. That culture may indeed turn out to be impossible to convert to anything faintly resembling our idea of a democracy. Nevertheless, our only viable alternative is to try. Our biggest problem in this endeavor has been our media’s constant barrage, on which the terrorists clearly feed, and is best exemplified by the recent ongoing coverage of one poor soul — Cindy Sheehan — someone who, after perhaps one day, was not even newsworthy.

DENIS ABLES

Vienna

‘Inevitable decline’ in oil production

Steve Chapman notes that many oil experts predict global oil production will soon decline, but takes solace in the fact that such predictions have always been wrong in the past (“Impact fumes … and incentives,” Commentary, Wednesday). But since oil is finite, decline is inevitable. So the optimists will be wrong one day, the only question is when.

Multiple lines of evidence point toward sooner rather than later. You have to find oil before you can pump it out. But global oil discoveries peaked about 40 years ago. We have been burning more oil than we have discovered since 1980.

America’s oil production peaked in 1970, while our discoveries peaked in the 1930s, a 40-year lag between the peak of discoveries and the peak of production. Those who put their faith in technology will be disappointed. Better oil drilling technology may allow us to pump out oil faster or even recover a higher percentage. But it doesn’t create oil. Only nature and geologic time do that.

If the world were heading toward peak, we could expect that various countries’ production would have already peaked. America is 35 years past peak. Britain and Norway recently peaked and are now in steep decline. Even one member of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries is now an oil importer. Russia expects to enter decline in a few years.

Mr. Chapman says that no one has come up with anything better than the free market to deal with energy concerns. Indeed, the free market is a better reaction than the recent energy bill. But there is a better plan: implement a tax shift to increase taxes on oil while decreasing taxes on income or payroll. Or balance the budget and decrease taxes on our children. This would use the market mechanism to support conservation and development of alternatives.

If we wait for the market to raise oil prices, we will send all our money to OPEC. This may seem ironic in the face of $65 a barrel for crude oil. But rest assured that the price will go much higher when oil production enters its inevitable decline.

CARL HENN

Rockville

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