- The Washington Times - Friday, June 23, 2006

Disease and scandal in Uganda

When I was chairman of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, I was proud to help start a new kind of lifesaving organization to help the poorest people in the world survive treatable, preventable diseases.

We structured the Global Fund to be sure that our tax dollars would be used for their intended purpose — to buy medicine or bed nets to protect from mosquitoes.

Uganda is a perfect example of this accountability structure in action (“Uganda shaken by fund scandal,” Page 1, June 16). As soon as the Global Fund’s secretariat heard of potential problems in Uganda from major donors, and then confirmed wrongdoing through its local accounting agent, the private firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, it immediately suspended all funding to the country.

This prompted the Ugandan government to take serious action, which led to the firing of senior officials and likely criminal prosecution. Through this uniquely strong response, the Global Fund has not only ensured that our tax dollars will save lives as intended, but also sent a clear message to aid recipients in Africa and around the world that corruption will not be tolerated.

Thanks to its no-nonsense approach, the Global Fund is making an impact: In just two years, it has financed life-extending AIDS medication for 550,000 people and the distribution of 11 million bed nets to protect children from malaria.

Together with the other AIDS and malaria efforts started by President Bush, the Global Fund is helping to drive back the deadliest diseases on the planet. It deserves America’s support.

TOMMY THOMPSON

Chairman emeritus

Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria

Milwaukee

Missile defense

As a former journalist who covered the Navy, I would like to disagree with your assessment of the failures of missile defense (“Advancing missile defense,” Editorial, Wednesday). I agree with your editorial that boost-phase intercept is the way to go. The so-called Star Wars concept has always been a boondoggle — and one that even if it were to work reliably does not address our defense needs.

A missile is vulnerable during boost (ascent) because it is easy to detect, slow and has a huge signature. It is very easily reachable. All you need are assets that can reach it. All this is a given in the Korean and Iranian situations.

Your assertion that the Clinton administration had so little interest in pursuing missile defense is a misinterpretation. Bill Clinton was indeed — and smartly so — not interested in the Star Wars project. He did pursue the Aegis and other theater missile defense projects, which make sense.

Unfortunately, those in Congress pushing for Star Wars saw a successful theater defense project as a threat to Star Wars. What would we spend the hundreds of billions for if we had a working system that did not violate international treaties?

For once, Mr. Clinton is not to blame.

THOMAS JANDL

Washington

Trans fat alarmism

The headline for Tuesday’s article on obesity (“Heart group urges limiting trans fats,” Nation) should have read: “Alarmists release ‘guidelines’ to remind American public how fat it is.”

Within the 16-page report, the American Heart Association’s new guidelines place the blame for obesity on “the current environment” and urges new “guidelines” to help fix the expansive problem. The worrisome “environment” is said to include everything from restaurant portion sizes to “poor street aesthetics.” The AHA lists “easy access to plentiful inexpensive food” as a cause of the obesity “epidemic,” which a growing number of experts are concluding does not even exist.

Not only does the AHA imply that fat America is helpless against its calorie-rich environment, but it goes a step further by asserting that “substantial changes to the environment will be required.” If Americans buy into this flawed and faulty conclusion, frivolous lawsuits and protectionist legislation could become as ubiquitous as french fries.

I wish the Associated Press reporter had read beyond the abstract — and into the details — of these new “guidelines” before presenting them uncritically. If we fail to examine the advice of health alarmists with a skeptical eye, higher food prices and Street Aesthetics Improvement Acts will be in our future.

VICTORIA KURZWEG

Washington

Bearing fruit on Cuba

In Thursday’s article, “U.S., Europe unite on Iran nukes” (Page 1), you report that the U.S. and Europe are “united on how to handle several pressing international issues” — specifically terrorism and Iran’s nuclear program.

That the European democracies and the United States are working together to confront such significant issues is good news. While our media emphasize disagreements among allies, the growing consensus on a number of international matters goes mostly unreported.

For example, many European governments are now on the record demanding political reform and the release of political prisoners in Cuba — and many of them favor putting pressure on Fidel Castro to attain those goals.

Mr. Castro’s outbursts against the European Union are no different from the Cold War rhetoric he used against the United States. As Vaclav Havel has written, “European diplomats should weigh up the consequences of accommodating Mr. Castro’s regime. They should show that they will neither ignore his practices nor neglect the suffering of Cuban prisoners of conscience.”

Mr. Castro’s Cuba appears on the Department of State’s list of terrorist states. And on the issue of Iran nukes, Europeans have come face to face with that dangerous and ugly reality. It is refreshing to see that President Bush’s leadership has begun to bear fruit in regard to Europe’s policies toward Iran, Cuba and other rogue states.

FELIPE EDUARDO SIXTO

Chief of staff

Center for a Free Cuba

Washington

Redeployment and troop safety

Democrats have been using the deaths of two American soldiers in Iraq as a rallying point for troop redeployment (“Troop ‘redeployment’ sought by Democrats,” Page 1, Monday). In the same paper, on the same day, a retired Army general was quoted as saying that these young soldiers would never have been left alone at a checkpoint if more troops had been available in Iraq (“Soldiers’ bodies found in Iraq,” Page 1, Monday).

Redeployment sounds good. It sounds as if our soldiers are going to be returning home sooner rather than later. However, this denies the reality of our situation. Redeployment will bring some of our soldiers home, while those left in Iraq will be even less safe than they are today. As the deaths of Pfc. Thomas Lowell Tucker and Pfc. Kristian Menchaca have shown us, the fewer troops we have in Iraq, the less likely their safe return.

The question shouldn’t be how soon our troops should come home. It should be about making sure they all get home.

ERIN WILDERMUTH

Washington

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