- The Washington Times - Friday, October 21, 2005

Energy solutions

Roger Zion got one thing right: Rising demand is behind the run-up in oil prices (“Energy shortfall remedies,” Commentary Tuesday).

Unfortunately, Mr. Zion doesn’t propose to do anything about it. His energy prescription is another rehash of the tired, tail-chasing formula of more domestic drilling and more budget-busting handouts to energy companies that don’t need them. It won’t work and cannot be made to work. We can’t base today’s energy strategy on gauzy notions of reprising the glory days of “cheap gas and boundless energy supplies.”

The facts tell us that U.S. demand consumes 25 percent of global oil production. U.S. domestic oil reserves account for 2 percent of oil remaining in the ground worldwide. It doesn’t take a degree in math to realize that a strategy of depleting our domestic oil reserves as fast as possible will leave us more dependent on foreign oil than ever.

There will be no “massive contribution” to energy independence from drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, as Mr. Zion claims. The U.S. Department of Energy projects that oil imports will be higher in 2025 than they are today — even if the Arctic refuge is drilled — because of rising demand.

Mr. Zion talks of being practical. We can start by rediscovering the old-fashioned practical virtue of thrift. Motor-vehicle fuel-economy standards save nearly 3 million barrels of oil per day. With today’s technology, we can do much better than that. More efficiency will buy us time to get off the dangerous oil-dependence treadmill that Mr. Zion wants to stay on. Biofuels can make a significant contribution to lowering oil demand and put dollars in the pockets of U.S. farmers instead of foreign oil potentates.

Ideological hyperventilating and tiresome slogans won’t solve our nation’s energy problems. Our nation needs a fact-based strategic energy policy that focuses on efficiency and diversifying our energy portfolio.

JIM DIPESO

Policy director

Republicans for

Environmental Protection

Seattle

U.N.-doing the Internet

Frank Gaffney’s “The un-Internet” (Commentary, Wednesday) paints a fictional picture of a United Nations hellbent on taxing the globe and taking over the Internet. As we have explained before in this space, the United Nations does not have and never has had a plan for imposing any taxes, and the organization is not engaged in a sinister plot to control the Internet.

Mr. Gaffney says “presumably” new taxes would be involved. He shouldn’t presume. No taxes are planned by the United Nations, on the Internet or anything else. Exploring innovative sources of aid is an idea advanced by the world’s governments, including the United States, in the 2002 Monterrey Consensus. Some countries support a tax on air travel to fight AIDS and malaria — but these aren’t “globotaxes.” If it ever materializes, any such tax would apply only in the country that decided to levy it. Clearly, this would not be a case of taxation without representation.

As for the Internet, an agreement was made by governments, including the United States, to ask a group of experts drawn from governments, the private sector and civil society to come up with ideas to assess current governance arrangements. The United States deserves the world’s thanks for developing the Internet, and it has exercised its responsibilities diligently. Nevertheless, even the United States recognizes that other countries also have a legitimate stake in the Internet. That’s why it’s called the World Wide Web. All countries — and the United States is no exception — are studying the ideas forwarded by the expert group, and they collectively must decide how to proceed.

The bottom line is that Mr. Gaffney’s scaremongering is unnecessary. There is no plan to transfer technical oversight of the Internet to any U.N. body, and the United Nations has not wavered in its defense of freedom of information and freedom of the press — on the Internet or anywhere else.

SHASHI THAROOR

Undersecretary-general for communications and public information

United Nations

New York

Justice for Saddam

Claude Salhani outlines the morbid and fanatical rise to power of Saddam Hussein and the ensuing elimination of opposition to his dictatorship and complete control of his country (“Saddam’s judgment day” Commentary, Thursday).

Saddam took over from the ailing Gen. Ahmad Hassan al-Bakr and created a cult around himself. Mr. Salhani well describes the atrocities and the butchery this man forced upon his enemies and his own countrymen.

Thousands died directly because of this person, and millions more died as the consequences of his wars. Saddam ordered the slaughter of his own countrymen and others. Saddam forced men blindfolded to plunge to their deaths. He presided over the execution of men with explosives taped to their chests that were detonated while their relatives watched. The cruelty goes on and on.

My question is, why are we are watching and spending our time listening to the villainous nerve of someone like Saddam? Why is it that a man who followed in Hitler’s footsteps and. in fact, if allowed, eventually could have exceeded Hitler’s record be given the right to accost his judges in front of all of us? This man is evil. He deserves to be punished for his misdeeds.

FRED WILLIAMS

Frederick, Md.

Voting-law updates

Jack Kemp is correct that some parts of the Voting Rights Act should be kept in place (“Voting Act renewal due,” Commentary, Thursday) but is wrong about three of them.

First, it makes no sense to require, as the act does, that ballots be made available in languages other than English, because generally English fluency is required for citizenship, and citizenship is required for voting.

Second, the provision of the act that requires some jurisdictions to say, “Mother, may I?” to the federal government before making any changes related to voting practices is outdated and no longer accurately targets places that are likely to discriminate.

Third, it makes no sense to ban voting practices that do not treat people differently because of race just because they have a disproportionate racial impact. Laws that do not discriminate on their face, were not intended to be discriminatory and are applied nondiscriminatorily do not violate the Constitution and should not be banned by the Voting Rights Act. For instance, a decision not to allow prison inmates to vote might have a disproportionate racial impact, but that should not make it illegal.

ROGER CLEGG

General counsel

Center for Equal Opportunity

Sterling, Va.

‘Good sense’ on Cyprus

Osman Ertug complains in a letter published Oct. 9 that the new Greek ambassador’s expression of hope for a “functional” solution to the Cyprus problem is just a “code word … for Greek Cypriot dominance over Cyprus.” Mr. Ertug is mistaken and does a disservice to the ambassador, Alexandros P. Mallias.

Cyprus is a difficult problem. The solution must not only strike a delicate balance between majority and minority rights in an ethnically divided island, it also must have a realistic chance of working. Otherwise, the “solution” will just provide new ways to reignite the old grievances.

Greek Cypriots overwhelmingly rejected the Annan Plan. Why? Because it was unworkable. One glaring example among many is that it would have allowed an 18 percent Turkish Cypriot minority to veto key legislative and executive decisions. This flaw portended endless squabbling and deadlock.

The search for a “functional” solution is no code word. Just good sense. The solution that eventually unifies the island and brings lasting peace must not only be just. It also must be viable.

JAMES L. MARKETOS

Washington

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