- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Marriage in an imperfect world

In response to “Divorce’s lasting effects,” (Culture, et cetera, Tuesday) all would assert that strong marriages are optimal in every way. I agree with author Vicki Lansky, however, in that we do not live in a perfect world. Often, despite years of counseling and couples trying hard, some marriages need to end.

I take exception to the thought that those of us who work to support people through the recovery process are “a divorce industry.” Numerous studies have shown that less rancor and better communication skills, empathy and understanding one’s own process in the matter contribute to a healthier outcome for men, women and children of any ages and stronger remarriages after that.

There are also two ways of looking at new people entering a family’s life. The article pointed out the negatives. By far, having a caring, connected stepparent can be a true blessing to a child who otherwise is left with an absent, disconnected, unavailable or neglectful one.


North Potomac

The buck stops where?

President’s Bush’s call to “federalize emergencies” (“Bush seeks to federalize emergencies,” Page 1, Tuesday) is a great idea. After all, the administration’s other federalization initiatives have been a smashing success, such as federalizing airport security after September 11, federalizing the provision of prescription drugs for the elderly, extending federal controls over kindergarten through 12th-grade schools and all the new federal criminal laws to replace obviously insufficient state laws.

But why stop there? The nation would work more efficiently if we had national rules on policing, garbage collection, and sidewalk repairs. And everyone hates their state department of motor vehicles, so we should abolish them and just mail our car license renewals to the Department of Transportation. With these changes, skilled federal experts could make rational nationwide plans for the good of all Americans. The nation’s resources would be allocated in a more optimal manner. State and local governments are antiquated, and they should be discarded in favor of more modern and effective centralized planning.


Director of tax policy

Cato Institute


I can’t believe it, but I find myself supporting the American Civil Liberties Union for the first time in my life. It is 100 percent correct in saying, “Using the military in domestic law enforcement is generally a very bad idea.”

What the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina illuminated was not the need for a bigger, more invasive federal government, but the abject failure of local and state governments in their response to the inevitable and very predictable results of a direct hit from a severe hurricane.

Katrina proved that when incompetence and partisan politics take precedence over common sense, cooperation and leadership, failure at all levels will result. I applaud the U.S. military for their successful response, which essentially saved New Orleans Mayor C. Ray Nagin and Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Babineaux Blanco’s rear ends, but just because they had to pull Louisiana out of the fire this time does not mean we need an automatic, federally controlled response to all future natural disasters.

What’s needed is a hard look (sans political rhetoric) at what went wrong, from the local precinct all the way up to the Pentagon, and figuring out how to fix it from the bottom up.


California, Md.

EU needs to say ‘yes’ to Turkey

Frank Gaffney Jr. almost entirely misses the point about Turkey (” ‘No’ to Islamist Turkey” Commentary, Tuesday).

He grossly exaggerates the significance of some marginal developments there while ignoring the country’s enduring assets and strengths.

In so doing, the author fails to observe that Turkey, with its polity, society and economy at the crossroads of several critical regions, remains a pivotal player and positive force in global affairs. His call for a “no” by the European Union to Turkey is, therefore, bad judgment and a mistake.

By meeting the EU Copenhagen criteria, Turkey has qualified to start membership negotiations and is ready to move forward in its bid to join the EU. The considerable legal, economic and political reforms undertaken under this government’s leadership defy Mr. Gaffney’s mischaracterization of a trend toward anything other than a stronger and more stable democracy.

And this democracy remains strong despite constant prodding and testing of all sorts every day. The economy is in better shape than it has been in years, and the public is still heavily supportive of EU accession.

The EU is faced with a truly historic choice, a make-or-break decision here. A “yes” to Turkey is the path to reconciliation and cooperation between different religions and cultures. It would also strengthen the Euro-Atlantic community and help ease global tensions.

A “no” to Turkey would be an invitation to more bigotry and confrontation on both sides, potentially deepening the gap between the Islamic world and the West and leading to new problems. I believe the EU will choose to ignore such ill-advised calls.


Ambassador of Turkey


There is great pleasure to be had in reading articles with which one disagrees, but your columnist’s description of Turkey is based on little knowledge and exudes a crude bias.

I have the advantage on Mr Gaffney, perhaps, in having been a correspondent in Turkey for many years; as such I recognize nothing in the caricature he has drawn.

The parochial school system Mr. Gaffney describes does not resemble the Pakistani-style madrassas but has the identical core curriculum of every other school in the country. I am no fan of its proliferation (which occurred under previous governments) but recognize the schools have been instrumental in getting young women through compulsory education and into the work-force.

Turks would be delighted if investors from the oil-rich Arab states moved their portfolios from the United States to Turkey, but to say Turkey has been bought by funny Islamic money is absurd. (Indeed the latest news in Turkey is of a massive Israeli investment — the Galata Port scheme in Istanbul by the Ofer family.) Yes, Turkish state bank regulators have seized the assets of a political opponent — a man whose family corporation was convicted in a U.S. criminal court of fraud to the tune of $4.3 billion and who is charged in an Istanbul court with embezzling an even greater sum.

It is hard to understand why Mr. Gaffney seeks to attack the Turkish prime minister so bitterly, yet defend the leader of the Youth Party whose message is overtly fascistic, is funded from a dubiously acquired family fortune and whose message is to isolate Turkey from Europe and the United States.

Anyone genuinely concerned about minority religious freedoms would be urging the EU to embrace Turkey and extend the EU legal protection for minorities — as Brussels has done in Eastern Europe. The main beneficiaries of the rationalization of the Turkish banking system are not the Saudis but European banks who have been investing massively in anticipation of EU-lead Turkish prosperity.

I do not want to be forced into the position of defending the Turkish government. The real problem is Mr. Gaffney’s basic premise. Most people credit the incentive of EU membership as the driving force behind the real progress which Turkey has made in recent years in reforming both its economy and its democratic processes.

They fear the consequence of following Mr. Gaffney’s advice of throwing away that carrot by rejecting Turkey because of the Islamic beliefs of the majority of its citizens. Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the prime minister, is seen as a “Nixon in China” — a man who is able to embrace Western values precisely because of his political origins in an Islamic movement and not despite it.

He has been able to sell reform because he too has been converted to its merits. The fundamental mistake Mr. Gaffney makes is in seeing Islam as the main obstacle to Turkey’s fuller integration to the West rather than the crude nationalism which in the past has served as a cover for government corruption and political and economic isolationism.



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