Aid to Colombia helps stop drugsJames Bovard's...

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



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


The writer is a former director of marketing and communications for Baltimore Hebrew University.

One reason I value my M.A. from Baltimore Hebrew University is that my education there was the most intellectually rigorous of the three college degree programs from which I have graduated. That was largely because of the standards set by Robert Freedman, as dean of graduate studies.

I'd hate to think that The Associated will dilute that value in shifting the university's orientation.

While it is true that institutions of higher Jewish education around the country have added a teacher-training component, it is also true that Jewish federations often gravitate toward coercion when beneficiary agencies don't blithely adopt their recommendations.

The conflicts become super-charged if the agency is a college or university, used to functioning in an atmosphere of supposed "academic freedom," a noble ideal that offers only dubious protection.

Then the federation needs an extra measure of sensitivity in exercising its authority, to avoid ham-handedness -which is never good, but is particularly un-kosher in a Jewish community that wants to see itself as compassionate and which, as "people of the book," attaches special value to education.


I hope The Associated finds the sensitivity needed to overcome the local crisis constructively.

However, if it finds that a Jewish teacher training program is necessary, its establishment should not require dulling the intellectual light that shines at BHU.

Gene Burger


Lost in the politics of The Associated's coup d'etat at Baltimore Hebrew University are the real victims of this struggle, the students and faculty of BHU.

With the university's accreditation threatened, and many of its faculty members fed up with the interference in academic matters by community politicians, students are left with feelings of uncertainty, fear and anger that The Associated has seen fit to speak on our behalf without asking for our opinions.


The way to attract more qualified teachers is not to create a trade school, but to increase the salaries that both synagogue-based schools and Jewish day schools pay their teachers.

There are qualified men and women in the community who can't afford to teach because they have families to support.

I have never found the faculty at BHU unresponsive. In fact, I have found the faculty very concerned with students' academic progress and personal well-being.

What the university needs is to be able to raise its own funds to expand its high-caliber course catalogue and increase the size of its highly capable faculty.

The pain and uncertainty that the Associated is inflicting upon students and faculty at BHU is unconscionable.

Academic decisions are best left to the men and women best qualified to make those decisions, the academics themselves.


Joshua Gurewitsch


The writer is a student at Baltimore Hebrew University.

In Peru, voting is an effort

I was traveling in Peru recently during the corrupt re-election of Alberto Fujimori as the country's president ("Peru's election that failed," June 3).

Looking past the lines of military personnel in full riot gear and armored trucks, I was impressed by the fact that Peruvians who traveled with us designated time to vote on that Sunday - and that the resturaunts would not serve alcohol on election day.


Although the current corruption is discouraging to many Peruvians, and not representative of their view of how demonracy should operate, they still voted.

Many Peruvians appeared at polls but entered a ballot of "no vote" to express their displeasure with Mr. Fujimori - they did not simply stay home because they did not like the candidate.

As an American, I paused to reflect on the low voter turnout in most of our elections.

And I asked Peruvian companions what accounted for such persistence despite a displeasing ballot. They cited the deep, widespread desire to change the opportunities available to Peru's people.

Furthermore, Peruvian voters are tracked and they do not file a ballot in an election, the next time they go to withdraw money from the bank, the Peruvian government withdraws about $50 from their bank account.

This represents month's salary for many Peruvians.


What would happen if Americans lost the luxury of apathy

What if Americans who did vote lost a month's salary?

Sandy Smolnicky


Drug treatment can save Park Heights

Every morning, the same routine: I get up, walk the dog, make a cup of tea, open The Sun and get more cynical.


Every morning, I yearn to read an article that is honest about the city's massive drug problem. Every morning, I am disappointed with ludicrous claims that progress is being made, crime is down and drug markets are closing.

But on June 9 a most unusual "Hallelujah!" passed from my lips: The Sun's article about Park Heights was honest and accurate in its portrayal of an extremely vital drug trade ("Baltimore faces new beachheads in war on drugs," June 9).

We've been trying to cut the supply of drugs for decades: spraying fields in Bolivia, confiscating shipments at the border, arresting drug dealers on city streets.

It's time to accept that this approach is a waste of time. Anyone with business sense knows about supply and demand; and where there is demand, there will be supply.

The only solution to drug sales and related crime in Park Heights is to tackle drug addiction. The only way to tackle addiction is to provide drug treatment that works.

We in the substance abuse field know what works.


Israel Cason, for example, the president of the I Can't, We Can Recovery Program, a former heroin addict from Park Heights, has brought more than 300 addicts into his recovery program. He offers no miracle cure.

He offers what we all know works: a minimum of 12 months in a residential treatment setting, tough love and spiritual guidance from fellow recovering addicts and a promise to see addicts through the inevitable temptation to backslide.

Mr. Cason is an unusual example of someone who, after entering drug treatment out of town, came back to help others and, as he puts it, "win souls and save lives."

Mr. Cason has done more for Baltimore's drug recovery movement than any other individual or any government agency.

His recovery program is licensed through the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and his efforts have received broad praise from government agencies and elected officials committed to the drug battle.

What he doesn't receive is funding. "I Can't We Can" has succeeded on a shoestring budget.


Doesn't it make you wonder what Mr. Cason could accomplish with serious funding?

Doesn't it make you wonder what the powers that be are waiting for?

The Park Heights Community Health Alliance is working to revitalize Park Heights and free it from drug addiction.

In addition to building an 18,000-square-foot Men's Health Center with support from the state, our plans include establishing 25 recovery houses in partnership with the I Can't, We Can program.

Lindsay Beane



The writer is executive director of the Park Heights Community Health Alliance.

Slender images, room for debate

June Miller's column "Skinny is in, and it may hurt women," (Opinion Commentary, June 9) appeared to be a bit thin in offering any new perspective on the issue of "body image distortion."

Ms. Miller's message - that "parents must be concerned about this issue, it is not going away" - is important. But another article summarizing and criticizing American media culture only thrusts the burden of the issue onto readers who have been bombarded not only with images of "skinny buxom women in tight, low-cut attire," but with numerous pieces like Ms. Miller's.

As for Ms. Miller's point about beginning a dialogue and making "an impact on the unhealthy environmental context that we have created," the dialogue started years ago.

Returning home from college, I can report that the dialogue occurs in support groups, lecture series, health information, even classes about body image in the media. The current college generation has been dealing with this issue for years.


Instead of complaining about the media's support for "the marketing of plastic surgery techniques," and calling for "collective, grass-roots action" against others, why not allow and encourage girls and women to form individual opinions of body image?

Individual thought can still exist in the age of mass media.

Encouraging girls and women to form their own concepts of body image would focus more on actual girls and women instead of waging an ugly war against those threatening, flat pages of magazines.

Laura Palermo


Windows opens computers to us all


Bruce W. Rollier's tirade against Microsoft missed the point ("Shut a window for Microsoft," Opinion Commentary, June 6). Microsoft has made a significant contribution to productivity by its so-called monopoly. This contribution is called standardization.

The personal computer and the Internet have resulted in the greatest increase in productivity in the 20th century. And the standardization of operating systems and the software used with them has increased productivity for everyone.

My family has two computers at home, one more in a second home and there is one on my desk at work. Because of Microsoft's ability to market Windows, they all have the same operating system.

Further, I can walk into almost any library in the United States and know how to use the public computers, because in most cases they have Windows.

The organization I work for has computer labs in several locations and campuses. I can use them, too, because they have Windows.

When I was in St. Johns, Newfoundland, I was even able to use the bookstore's computer there, because it too had Windows.


And because of standardization I can write a report or paper in WordPerfect 5.1, easily convert it to MS-Word and e-mail it anywhere in the world.

Is Windows perfect? It is not. No standard is perfect for everyone.

There is a small minority of elite computer specialists who want to play around with other operating systems that are available to them.

But they shouldn't condemn the rest of us, who prefer to learn one system - and go from one improvement in that system to the next.

Ernest F. Cooke