Chance for Middle East peaceIt is of the utmost urgency...

the Forum

October 11, 1993

Chance for Middle East peace

It is of the utmost urgency that the historic agreement reached by Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization be translated into a durable Middle East peace.

But for that sorely needed result actually to come about, Israeli, Arab and Western leaders must quickly learn the lessons of what went wrong the last time the world had a comparable opportunity to create the framework for lasting peace.

When the Berlin Wall and the Soviet puppet regimes of Eastern Europe collapsed in 1989, there was a magnificent chance for the West to show once and for all the complete superiority of industrial capitalism to the miserable system of communism in rebuilding burnt-out economies.

Did the U. S. or West Europe send engineers and production managers to teach the Poles and Czechs to create advanced rail systems, integrated water management and a modern power grid to fuel industrial recovery?

No, they sent in the International Monetary Fund and a team of "whiz kids" from Harvard who forced the debt-strapped ex-Soviet bloc nations to sell off their industrial capacities at fire sale prices, massively devalue their currencies and "open" their economies to such growth enterprises as pornography, gambling and drugs.

The same wretched policies were imposed on post-communist Russia beginning in 1992.

With production and living standards throughout the region having plummetted below even what they were under Soviet rule, we now see the shocking spectacle of the Lithuanians and even the Poles voting their respective renamed Communist parties back into power. The IMF crowd has managed to turn the dream of 1989 into a nightmare.

Will the hopes for a successful Middle East settlement be --ed in a similar fashion? Israeli Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, acknowledging that everything depends on rapid economic development in the region, has worked out with Palestinian negotiators a plan that holds tremendous promise.

the drawing board are such large-scale infrastructure projects as a canal between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea, a similar waterway from the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba and massive desalination programs, including nuclear-powered systems, designed to render the old Israeli slogan "make the desert bloom" applicable to the entire Levant.

In contrast to this truly grand vision, the political myopics of the World Bank have pulled out a familiar recipe: No big infrastructural undertakings, no water development at all but lots of tourism, gambling and Hong Kong-style low-wage, low-technology "enterprise zones."

This of course is the same policy outlook that has failed so horrendously in Eastern Europe. Indeed, if one were consciously trying to sabotage the fragile chances for Middle East peace, it would be difficult to imagine a more efficient means than to impose that tried-and-untrue formula on the Israelis and Palestinians.

Where on earth can we find a genuine statesman to reverse the suicidal tendency of too many of our Western leaders to turn great opportunities into great disasters?

arsha D. Roark

Baltimore

Feeling the pain in Baltimore County

Appointed officials in Baltimore County are providing expert instruction to the surrounding counties on how to waste taxpayers' money, ignore the voices of experts and anger the citizenry all at the same time.

By choosing to essentially ignore the findings of the task force report, the Baltimore County Board of Education is acting like a defendant who hired his own jury and then when the verdict came in against him, successfully grabbed the gavel from the judge's hand to declare himself exonerated.

The findings of the task force could not have been clearer: fire Stuart Berger.

The changes required to maintain excellence in the county school system can be effected without treating parents as if they don't deserve to be consulted, demoting dedicated professionals without due process or moving children around like pawns on a chess board.

It is no wonder that when he was recently challenged to discuss the findings of the task force report, Dr. Berger declined, saying, ''I'm not a masochist.'' Therefore, by his own admission, these findings must be painful.

Unfortunately, the pain he is feeling can't be as great as the parents who are watching their school system weakened by the controversy surrounding the superintendent or the pain of teachers who are forced to employ methods that do not serve their students' best interests and then are forced to lie about the effectiveness of the school system in order to keep their jobs.

The current state of affairs in Baltimore County almost makes me sorry that William Donald Schaefer can't run for governor in the next election; firing the current school board would certainly win him Baltimore County.

What a shame that this seems to be the only way to hold Stuart Berger accountable.

Frank Soltis

Fallston

Talking dirty

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