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May 16, 2001     The Arlington Times
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May 16, 2001

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16,2001 OPINION The Arlington Times/The Marysville Globe o:. B3 The National Scene Tales fromTwo Sides On the Left by Robert Scheer Cheney's an oaf on conservation On the Right by William F. Buckley Jr. U.N. frolics Surrogate is behaving like an ~onsible, oaf. / dismisses In energy conservation, 1 of fossil-fuel of nuclea power plants? e~nploy. n~lion Service the 0il fiaan- GOP ticket, responsibility energy conservation. In his 1, endorsed by parties, was valuable Conservation but it is not a suffi- energy poll Works, and according to Pointedly ignored by in staving off reported in its lead Country's national lab- energy savings if steps to encourage offices, the five natiomd sci- shrill insis- a huge new pol- next two Cheney is a mouthpiece for energy companies. conservation )tion test- saving energy and at the Naval new ranch in good for them country. on energy people about is not leader- Withholds from the American public sound scientific information in order to justify eviscerating conservation policy. Indeed, the administration's 2002 budget kills much of President Clinton's program to improve energy efficiency in building construction, heating and appliances, savings that would have obviated the need for an estimated 170 new power plants. Cheney chose to attack conservation at the very time when California embarked on a major plan to end its electricity short- age through lowering con- sumer demand -- a short- age that Cheney irresponsi- bly blames on environmen- talists who were insisting on pollution controls. California's crisis is being created by the price- gouging of mostly out-of- state energy suppliers that are taking advantage of a deregulation plan hatched by former Republican Gov. Pete Wilson in cahoots with the privately owned utili- ties. The utilities wanted to sell off what they incor- rectly figured to be the less-profitable energy produc- tion business, including ever-troubled nuclear plants of the sort Cheney now embraces. In return, they agreed to temporary caps on consumer prices. The problem is that the feds control wholesale prices, which they didn't cap. Last week. when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finally recog- nized that it needed to exercise its legal authority to cap wholesale prices, Cheney blasted it: "If I had been at FERC, I never would have voted for short-term price caps." California consumers should remember Cheney's refusal to rein in the price-gougers come the next election. Finally, whatever happened to the monarchs of Saudi Arabia and Kuwait saved by former President Bush and then-Defense Secretary Cheney during the Gulf War? The monarchs sit atop the world's largest oil reserve. Wouldn't you think that since they owe their continued existence to the Bush clan, they might return the favor with lower off prices? Instead, U.S. consumers are being punished at the gas pumps with some of the highest prices in recent memory. The dirty secret is that the Texas oilmen in the White House like the price of foreign crude to be very high. That justifies increased U.S. production, even in pristine lands, and boosts energy profits, which doubtless will fatten the coffers of Republican candi- dates in the next election. You can't say we weren't warned. Put two Texas oil guys in the White House, and they are going to seize any opportunity to grease the palms of their big oil backers while raping the environment. Still, it is surprising that they are being so obscenely blatant about it. ELL The dirty play in the United Nations sug- gests several questions and brings up memories. At the 28th General Assembly session of the U.N. (1973), I served as pub- lic delegate (appointed by President Nixon) and as U.S. representative to the Third Committee (the committee concerned with human rights). The Cold War was very hot and on several fronts, most notably Vietnam. Henry Kissinger was designing the sinuous diplomatic path that came to be known as detente, which involved bit by bit the withdrawal from Vietnam, accelerated rela- tions with China, a hard line on Russia but with cul- tural exchange and diplo- matic patience. Within the United Nations, the line to the U.S. staff was: Be cau- tious of any direct attacks on human rights within the Soviet Union, but feel fre~ (with some moderation) to attack human rights in Soviet satellite countries, in particular Cuba. On the human-rights agenda of caring nations in the U.N. that year was the appointment of a high commissioner, who by the high rank of his station might bring special worldwide attention to the deprivation of human rights. Ah, but where? My task was to focus on those nations that engaged in delaying tactics. In my book ("United Nations Journal," 1974) is recorded the little speech I gave on the floor targeting East Germany: "Among those who spoke yesterday in opposi- tion to a high commissioner for human rights were states who would have you believe that such is the congestion of human rights within their frontiers that it is necessary to surround themselves with great walls and oceans to prevent these human rights from emigrating." To no avail. The U.N. is a showcase for the "sticks and stones may break my bones" rule. Now in successive years, we (my wife and I) had as weekend guests in Gstaad, Switzerland, U.S. human-rights warriors in the U.N. ongoing commis- sion from which the United States has just now been excluded. Allard Lowenstein, the most idealis- tic political creature in modern times, was there in Geneva, and gave breathless accounts of efforts to impale the Soviet Union on its continuing persecu- tion of such Russians who sought freedom as Alexander Solzhenitsyn. But in Washington, the Carter administration counseled verbal caution. Leonard Garment, former counsel to President Nixon, was our ambassador one year, and the august political scientist Walter Berns, another. All three, in the course of the ses- A lot of countries are sore at the U.S. for all kinds of reasons. sions of the Human Rights Commission, were aflame with the prospect of advancing human rights but were always knocked pretty well sense- less by the bureaucratic walls of realpolitik. That is what happened to us last week. To exclude the United States from membership in the U.N. Human Rights Commission can only be com- pared with the Council on Foreign Relations' discovery on counting the ballots one morning 10 years ago that llen~y Kissinger hadn't been renominated as a trustee. Such votes are one part inad- vertence (sometimes people, and nations, have to be reminded to do the obviously right thing), but also one part malevolence. A lot of countries are sore at the United States for all kinds of reasons, including the headstrong lure of stick- ing it to the Man. Some don't like it that we have rejected Kyoto, that we declined to submit our citizens to international criminal courts, that we are considering an advance over the 1972 ABM Treaty, and that we have dragged our feet paying U.N. dues. So there was the lure of' humiliating the United States, and this has been done. The principal victim of the U.N. high will of course be those human rights that the United States is best equipped to champion. As also what- ever it is you call a human-rights commission that has just elected as members Algeria and Sudan. Human rights in the United Nations, whether in the General Assembly or in Geneva, ate an aspect of routine political interests. It should be more than that because human rights are the great evolv- ing insight of world history. It is a revolutionary development that China should care to be thought concerned about human rights. When in 1973 the Soviet Union ratified the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human rights, which was then 25 years old, the big news wasn't that human rights in Russia would get better -- they didn't -- but that the leadership thought it correct to approve human rights. Some time later, perestroika and glasnost were born; and not too long after, the Berlin Wall fell. We are at liberty to wonder at parliamentary fumbling by our State Department, and we can let off a little steam by some worldly toasts at diplo- matic conferences concerned with, or intended to be concerned with, human rights. But no action by the government is merited that takes us beyond our periodic and melancholy reminders that, in our world, different priorities assert themselves, and sometimes King Spite prevails over human rights. Senior Calendar KEN BAXTER STILLAGUAMISH SENIOR/COMMUNITY CENTER SENIOR CENTER a MARYSVILLE = = ARLINGTON 'V" Wednesday. May 16 2 p.m. Entertainment Joe Rossen & his gang I> Wednesday, May 23 ENTERTAINMENT: Ernle ~yree & the Valley Drifters I> Friday. May 25 kll(~kllF What~ Cookin? (PG-13 comedy) @ V MAY EVENTS May 16.17 "55 Alive" Defensive Drivin.q C lasses May 17 Darr~ngton May 20 Mariner Game Ivs Y.~nkees) May 24 Granite Falls O Our Thrift Store is opened Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m Donations accepted for the thrift store Ounng bus~ness hours A here