Monday, January 11, 1999

A disturbing report
on embassy bombings

AN investigation of the bombings of two American embassies in East Africa has concluded that senior government officials and lawmakers had failed to heed warnings and take preventive action that might have averted the disasters. A total of 258 people, including 12 Americans, died and 4,000 were wounded in the bombings in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, last summer. The problem must be addressed immediately before more lives are lost.

The investigation, headed by Adm. William Crowe, the retired chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, former ambassador to Britain and former commander-in-chief Pacific, based in Honolulu, found there had been a "collective failure" by several administrations and members of Congress over decades that had left a number of embassies vulnerable to terrorist attack. The investigators accused the State Department and other agencies of giving a low priority to embassy security.

The embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, the report said, had not been provided with adequate security to protect them against large car bombs like those used in the attacks in August. And it warned that other embassies are vulnerable to similar attacks. It spoke of "an unwillingness to give sustained priority and funding to security improvements."

Last spring the U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Prudence Bushnell, sent an emotional letter to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, begging for the secretary's help in improving security at the embassy. Nothing happened.

The attitudes described reflect an alarming complacency in the terrorist-menaced world of today. It is no secret that U.S. embassies and other facilities abroad are prime targets for America's enemies. To fail to provide adequate security under these circumstances is irresponsible -- fatally so.

Congress must provide the funds and the State Department the action to ensure that these disasters are not repeated.


Women in politics

THE defeat of Linda Lingle denied her the distinction of becoming Hawaii's first female governor. Of course women have attained other high elective offices here -- seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, the state Legislature, county mayorships and lieutenant governor. Someday no doubt there will be a female governor and a female U.S. senator. But Hawaii has a long way to go to catch up with Arizona.

There five women have been sworn in to the top elected offices of the state. Jane Dee Hull is the governor, Betsey Bayless is secretary of state, Janet Napolitano attorney general, Carol Springer treasurer, and Lisa Graham Keegan superintendent of public instruction. Swearing them in was another Arizonan, Sandra Day O'Connor, the first female justice of the U.S. Supreme Court and former majority leader of the state Senate.

Arizona has long offered women roles in politics. In 1912, the year it became a state, Arizona was among the first nine states to grant women the vote, eight years before ratification of the 19th Amendment. Today about a third of Arizona state legislators are women, higher than the national average of 22 percent.

Although she lost to Ben Cayetano, Lingle came close enough to victory to dispel any notion that a woman can't be elected to Hawaii's highest office. Anyone who is skeptical about women in politics should ask the voters in Arizona.


Steel industry suffers

THE Asian economic crisis has been devastating for the U.S. steel industry. Asian steelmakers, trying to increase their exports to make up for the collapse of their own economies, have flooded the U.S. market with cheap steel. According to Clinton administration estimates, U.S. steel imports surged 30 percent in the first 10 months of 1998. Japan, South Korea and Russia were responsible for most of the increase.

As a result the U.S. industry has lost 10,000 workers over the past year. Bethlehem Steel announced last week it would close some money-losing operations in Ohio and Pennsylvania.

The industry has been pressing Washington to act. On Thursday the White House proposed giving the industry more than $300 million in tax relief.

In a report to Congress, the White House also said Japan had agreed to reduce steel exports to the United States this year to near 1997 levels, before the Asian financial crisis hit, but offered no details on how that would be achieved.

It wasn't good enough for the United Steelworkers union. Its president, George Becker, called the plan "neither comprehensive nor terribly responsive." He said the union would seek emergency legislation imposing quotas on steel imports from Japan, Russia and other countries accused of dumping steel on the U.S. market at below-fair market prices. The Steel Manufacturers Association was also critical of Clinton's plan.

The steel industry's plight is an example of how economic misery spreads, and its reaction is entirely understandable. The problem is that one act of protectionism tends to produce another in retaliation. As the process continues, world trade shrinks and everybody loses.

The American economy has continued to roar along despite the crisis in Asia and weakness in Latin America. But the problems of the steel industry make the point that this country cannot insulate itself indefinitely from the conditions affecting the world economy.

Published by Liberty Newspapers Limited Partnership

Rupert E. Phillips, CEO

John M. Flanagan, Editor & Publisher

David Shapiro, Managing Editor

Diane Yukihiro Chang, Senior Editor & Editorial Page Editor

Frank Bridgewater & Michael Rovner, Assistant Managing Editors

A.A. Smyser, Contributing Editor

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