Wednesday, March 7, 2001
Cheneys heart trouble
is cause for concernThe issue: Vice President Dick Cheney underwent what was described as a minor surgical procedure to repair a damaged artery.
Our view: Cheney's history of heart problems is a particular cause for concern because of the major role he has assumed in the Bush administration.
VICE President Dick Cheney's latest health problem was described as a minor surgical procedure to repair a damaged artery. He left George Washington University Hospital the next day, saying he felt good.
That is somewhat reassuring but the nation has reason to be concerned. Cheney has a long history of heart trouble; he has had four heart attacks. And perhaps no vice president before him has ever been given such heavy responsibilities by his boss, the president.
With George W. Bush inexperienced in national affairs, the president has decided to make the Washington veteran Cheney his top adviser.
A former White House chief of staff and secretary of defense, Cheney headed Bush's transition team, played a major role in cabinet and top personnel selections and has helped Bush forge his foreign policy as well as a national energy policy. White House officials say Cheney is the adviser Bush most relies upon to carry out his agenda.
A White House spokesman said Cheney will rest at home and likely will return to work later this week. No restrictions have been placed on his work, he said. Doctors said the vice president should be able to continue in his job unimpeded by his latest problems.
The procedure Cheney underwent Monday was prompted by "a common complication" of his prior heart procedure last November, not a progression of heart disease, his aide said.
Cheney underwent the procedure to unclog an artery, called an angioplasty, after he experienced a series of subtle pains in his chest. Doctors said their best evidence indicated that he had not suffered another heart attack.
However, even if he sticks to his no-beef diet and rigorous workout regimen, there is a fair chance he will be back in the hospital facing the same trouble soon, his physicians said.
The attention given Cheney's latest health episode usually is reserved for presidential illnesses. But so much emphasis has been given to Cheney's importance in the Bush administration that any problem with the vice president's health inevitably becomes news.
This concern also reflects the fact that the president appears to be vigorously healthy and is younger than Cheney.
The vice president's maturity and experience are assets, but his status as next in line to the presidency makes his uncertain health a continuing cause for concern. Fortunately, he appears to be diligent in following his doctor's orders regarding diet and exercise.
Destruction of statues
by Taliban is an outrageThe issue: The radical Muslim group that has seized control of Afghanistan is destroying pre-Islamic relics, including priceless statues of Buddha.
Our view: These acts are the fruits of fanaticism.
RELIGIOUS faith can produce sublime expressions of the human spirit. Unfortunately it can also be twisted into intolerant fanaticism.
That is what is happening in Afghanistan, where the leader of the ruling Taliban, a radical Muslim group, has ordered the destruction of all pre-Islamic relics. The order has prompted protests from many countries.
At the heart of the outcry has been the fate of two carvings of Buddha, measuring 175 and 120 feet tall, hewn from a cliff face in the third and fifth centuries. One is believed to be the world's tallest standing Buddha.
The Taliban have refused to allow observers go to Bamiyan, in central Afghanistan, where the two huge statues are located, so it is unknown whether the order has been carried out.
The destruction of the statues began after Mullah Mohammed Omar ruled that the relics are idolatrous and violate the tenets of Islam. But others argue that Islam does not ban images, only the worship of them.
Smaller relics -- some just fragments, others fully formed statues -- may also be priceless. In the Kabul museum there are thousands of fragments of Buddhist art, stored in a basement. The most precious is said to be a 2,000-year-old seated Bodhi Satva, made of baked clay and naked except for an earring, armband and necklace.
A special United Nations envoy sent from Paris to try to dissuade the Taliban from destroying the relics was unsuccessful in meetings with officials in Kandahar, its headquarters.
The Taliban leader shrugged off international criticism of his order as "noise." This included a protest from the Vatican calling the order the "crazy" result of "fanatic extremism."
The mullah accused non-Muslim nations of trying to refashion Afghanistan's identity into one more acceptable to them.
"The non-Muslim world is united against the Taliban, but we will not be deterred. We will keep our Islamic way," Omar said. "It has given praise to God that we have destroyed them."
However, it isn't only non-Muslim countries that are denouncing the Taliban. Omar ignored expressions of disapproval by fellow Muslim nations, including Pakistan and Iran. President Mohammad Khatami of Iran accused the Taliban of acting under the guise of Islam to commit acts that were "inhumane, violent" and against culture.
Nineteenth-century Western missionaries in Hawaii ordered the destruction of Hawaiian heiaus and religious figures, and similar deplorable acts were committed in other places. But at the dawn of the new millennium, the destruction of works of religious art in the name of religion seems unthinkable.
The Taliban mullahs are trying to take Afghanistan back to the Middle Ages.
Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership
Rupert E. Phillips, CEO
Frank Bridgewater, Acting Managing Editor
Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor
Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors
A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor