Aid to Colombia helps stop drugs James Bovard's column...

SATURDAY MAILBOX

June 17, 2000

Aid to Colombia helps stop drugs

James Bovard's column "U.S. stuck in Colombia" (Opinion Commentary, June 1) mis-represented several important issues in the debate over U.S. assistance to Colombia's fight against narco- trafficking.

First, U.S. assistance to Colombia will not go to combat guerrilla organizations, but for specific anti-narcotics activities such as military equipment and training for Colombia's armed forces and police to destroy the infrastructure of illegal drug organizations.

And our balanced strategy will also support alternative development programs, strengthen law enforcement institutions and help protect human rights.

Second, the increase in cocaine and heroin production in Colombia in recent years is due in part to the success of similar U.S.-sponsored programs including fumigation of coca and poppy crops in neighboring Bolivia and Peru.

Since 1992, Colombia has allowed the controlled aerial spraying of illicit crops with gliphosate. Its application has been monitored and strictly controlled and no secondary effects to the population or to the environment have been reported.

Third, by providing assistance to Colombia, the United States is not "bumbling into a civil war."

Colombia is not engaged in a civil war. Guerrilla organizations account for about 25,000 people in a nation of more than 40 million.

They are not waging an ideological argument with the government or Colombian society, but are criminals who are engaged in violence, kidnapping, human rights violations and drug trafficking.

The vast majority of Colombians are neither guerrillas nor drug traffickers. We are, however, a nation that needs America's help, not only to give us the tools necessary to win the war against drugs we are waging in our country but to reduce the demand for these drugs in your country.

Every shipment of illegal drugs we stop in Colombia is one that does not reach Baltimore's streets, neighborhoods and schools. Every month we delay the approval of the aid package gives enormous advantage to the drug traffickers and costs both societies thousands of human lives and tremendous lost opportunities.

Luis Alberto Moreno

Washington

The writer is Colombia's ambassador to the United States.

Israel and its rivals must now wage peace

We three, a Christian, a Jew and a Muslim, are moved to express our deep concern about the Middle East peace process.

The parties to the process appear to be in denial of the dangerous route they are traveling as they stray from the path of constructive engagement. They fail to see the danger of the combination of hatred and weapons of destruction.

They seem blind to the slow death that awaits their people from environmental degradation, water shortages and poverty.

The parties to the peace process are confronted by the biblical choice between life and death; they have the power to create a heaven or hell on earth.

And we have a responsibility to shield the flickering flame of peace. The United States, as well as the international community, will be affected by the future of the Middle East.

Therefore, we advocate the following goals: acceptance of Israel by her Arab neighbors, including diplomatic recognition, trade and cultural exchange; statehood for the Palestinians; and joint regional and international efforts to address the region's problems.

Let us call upon everyone to recognize that there will be no peace (and therefore no future worth having) unless there is the will to compromise.

The choice is not between compromise and principle, but between compromise and death.

J. Wayne Ruddock

Robert D. Katzoff

Mohyee E. Eldefrawl Baldwin

Compromising Jewish learning?

The Sun's article on the conflict between Baltimore Hebrew University (BHU) and the Associated Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore ("An academics debate," June 7) overlooked that for the past 10 years, The Associated has frozen at $1.1 million the amount it provides BHU.

At the same time, funds raised by The Associated have gone to, among other things, a $3.5 million renovation of its offices on Mount Royal Avenue.

BHU has been forced by sheer economics to seek state accreditation and funding from outside sources simply to stay open. As the article noted, this hostile takeover by The Associated threatens such essential funding.

If The Associated were concerned about sustaining BHU as an academic institution - instead of writing the final chapter in a bitter, decade-long fight with BHU --it would realize that an integral part of training teachers is providing them with a physical and academic infrastructure in which genuine learning can take place.

Instead, in this highly charged atmosphere, the anti-intellectuals at The Associated have demanded nothing less than BHU's complete capitulation.

This should sound klaxons throughout the Jewish community.

For once BHU falls under The Associated's antiquated feudal ownership system, which organization will be next?

Bruce R. Mendelsohn

Owings Mills

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