U.S. puts self-interest ahead of principle on world...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

July 27, 1998

U.S. puts self-interest ahead of principle on world criminal 0) court

The U.S. delegation's performance at the recently concluded International Criminal Court Conference and The Sun's July 22 editorial, "World court proposal is deeply flawed," are shameful and deplorable examples of American exceptionalism.

In Rome, the U.S. delegation argued unsuccessfully for the idea that U.S. citizens should stand outside of the evolving framework of international law so that our government can pursue its policies with impunity, unhindered by the rule of law that other democratic nations accept.

U.S. exceptionalism is not new: It goes back to the Senate's failure to ratify the League of Nations Covenant; to hobbled attempts to fashion international human rights treaties in the 1950s and 1960s; to U.S. failure to sign the Landmines Convention last year; and to the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Jesse Helms, who refuses to allow international treaties signed by the United States that protect the rights of women and children to come before the Senate.

In arguing for a policy requiring the consent of the nation whose citizens are to be prosecuted and for a Security Council veto, the United States threatened and bullied allies and seemed to be more concerned about shielding possible perpetrators from trial than in producing a charter that would allow victims of horrendous crimes to obtain justice.

Fortunately, the other nations at the ICC Conference rejected the U.S. positions, but U.S. pressure produced a ill-considered compromise that settles the matter of the court's jurisdiction in a way that is far from ideal. The United States will now, predictably, fail to sign and ratify the ICC Convention, thus weakening it and putting the United States in the same league as Libya, China and Iraq.

Globalization is here all right, but the United States wants it to proceed on itsterms.

Morton Winston

Timonium

The writer is a former board chairman of Amnesty International USA, a professor of philosophy at The College of New Jersey and an adjunct professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Continuing Studies.

Easements a valuable tool for protecting heritage

We applaud your strong endorsement of preservation easements in the July 22 editorial "Preserving historic land" about the case concerning Myrtle Grove, an 18th century plantation in Talbot County.

Preservation Maryland has been involved with the case since 1994, when we first learned that the National Trust for Historic Preservation had approved plans to subdivide the property.

We immediately began working to persuade the National Trust to withdraw from the agreement since it clearly conflicted with the easement it held on the property and potentially threatened the sanctity of preservation and conservation easements in Maryland.

To its credit, the National Trust did withdraw its approval of the plan and was subsequently sued by the owners of Myrtle Grove for breach of contract.

Preservation Maryland filed a brief in defense of the trust, arguing that it could not authorize subdividing Myrtle Grove because to do so would violate its fiduciary responsibility under Maryland's charitable trust doctrine. This is the same argument cited in the recent suit filed by the attorney general.

We welcome the attorney general's action and hope it will help ensure the continued viability of easements as a means of preserving Maryland's natural and cultural heritage.

Tyler Gearhart

Baltimore

The writer is executive director of Preservation Maryland.

Women attended college in U.S. as early as the 1830s

Ellen Goodman needs to check her facts when she says among other limitations that "women couldn't attend college" ("At Seneca Falls, time to honor foremothers," July 17).

Oberlin College in Ohio, founded in 1833, was admitting women by 1835 and several graduated in 1841. Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Mass., founded as a women's college, graduated the first woman in 1838, 10 years before the women's rights gathering in Seneca Falls.

Shirley Clemens

Monkton

Reader urges attention to stories of 'substance'

I find it quite interesting that a topic of such enormity as " 'Colorblind' society called hopeless goal" would be relegated to Page 13A of the paper July 8.

I am constantly amazed at the bias The Sun shows on subjects of substance or importance.

As an African-American woman who fully realizes there is bias, ignorance and intolerance, I continue to expect the media to clean its house.

As the article states, many misconceptions are the result of stereotypes. I believe most African Americans would appreciate being seen in a light other than a negative one. For some reason, the actions or deeds of one or a few African Americans are seen as representative of the race, particularly if they are negative.

I know lots of people who look like me who are responsible, hard-working, contributing members of society.

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