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January 10, 1989 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 1989-01-10

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Page 4

Tuesday, January 10, 1989

The Michigan Daily

Chemical warfare and U.S. foreign policy:


Edited and managed by students at The University of Michigan
420 Maynard St.
Vol IC, No.71 Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Unsigned editorials represent a majority of the Daily's Editorial Board. All other
cartoons, signed articles, and letters do not necessarily represent the opinion
of the Daily.

Theory vs.


By Arlin Wasserman
This is part one of a series on chemical

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SINCE THE JANUARY fourth down-
;ing of two Libyan aircraft, the United
States has belligerently rejected offers
of mediation and direct negotiation with
the Libyan government to settle what-
ever contention the Reagan administra-
tion has in the region. Instead, the
:United States has relied on the racist
stereotype that Arab peoples are irra-
tional and violent to discredit the
Libyan position of negotiations.
Immediately after the attack on the
alleged chemical weapons plant at Ra-
bat, Col. Moammar Qadaffi, head of
the Libyan government, proposed that
the United States enter into direct
negotiations and come to Libya and in-
spect the plant. The state department
brushed aside both this proposal, and
the offer from U.S. ally Saudi Arabia
to mediate the dispute, saying
"communication is not the problem, the
problem is the Libyan policy."
The administration and the main-
stream media have effectively created a
hysteria around Qadaffi which focuses
on how he looks, his strong statements
in support of Palestine, and other irrel-
evant details such as the Associated
Press' attention to his body guards at
the recent press conference, a detail
wholly ignored when examining West-
ern press conferences.
The media's wholesale acceptance of
the administration's line further re-
moves the Libyan position from the ra-
tional context. The major wire services
gave the official version - U.S. ac-
tions in self-defense - major play,
while the Libyan claims of unarmed,
routine reconnaissance planes being at-
tacked by 14 USAF aggressors was
largely ignored. The question of why
the U.S. feels compelled to unilaterally
assume the role of global police, at-
tacking sovereign nations without con-
sulting international organizations, is
never asked.
Speculative articles such as "U.S.
pilots were afraid" and assertions that
video tape evidence, which is in fact
blurred, corroborates the U.S. story of
armed and dangerous Libyan planes,
does not conclusively prove that the
Libyans were even involved in the in-

cident. Such coverage is used to insure
that the facts about Libya are ignored.
The frame of reference is, thus,
moved from the U.S. being the largest
producer of chemical and biological
weapons, planning a new production
facility and maintaining an arsenal of
nerve gas in Fort Detrick Maryland, to
a Libyan pharmaceutical plant which
even the state department admits could
be used for legitimate medical pur-
poses. No longer is the development
of chemical blistering agents in the
University of Michigan School of
Pharmacology or the supply of chemi-
cal weapons to NATO allies an issue.
When Qadaffi has *suggested
rational actions that would reduce
nuclear weapons, the star wars pro-
gram, or chemical weapons, he is at-
tacked by the U.S. for being
"authoritarian." Vernon Walters, U.S.
delegate to the UN summarized: "The
United States is not really disposed to
receive lessons on terrorism from a na-
tion like Sandinista Nicaragua. Nor is
it ready to be taught norms of interna-
tional behavior by nations governed by
various forms of military or civilian
one-party rule."
The U.S. asserts that all evidence
leads to the conclusion that the danger-
ous Libyans are increasing tension in
the region, therefore attacks are pre-
emptive and justified. With no evi-
dence connecting Libya to any of the
supposed terrorist acts such as the
West German discotheque bombing,
the U.S. should take a rhetorical lesson
and negotiate immediately.
While disclaiming any relevance to
the attack on Libyan aircraft, the United
States continues to assert that the dan-
gers of chemical weapons proliferation
in the Third World merit intervention.
Even before there was conclusive evi-
dence Reagan threatened to use force to
prevent what he calls the "chemical
plant" from going into production.
In light of the administration's con-
stant attacks and threats, negotiation
can not proceed in good faith unless the
U.S. aggressors withdraw from the
region. In short, U.S. policy, not
Libyan communication, is the major
problem in this dispute.

This past weekend marked the beginning
of yet another global conference on
chemical and biological weapons (CBWs).
Past conferences, notably the 1925 Geneva
conference, have resulted in a fragile world
consensus not to use CBWs in wartime.
However, the development and mass pro-
duction of these weapons is permitted. So
each country until now has faced the moral
dilemma of whether or not to use a partic-
ular existing, effective weapon against its
This week's conference in Paris has the
potential for dramatic moves toward
CBW disarmament initiated by Mikhail
Gorbachev's move to destroy the Soviet
stockpile of CBWs and reduce all Soviet
defense spending by 10 percent. But it is
more likely that these talks will be scut-
tled by the U.S. representative George
First of all, these talks may result in
verbal sparring between the United States
and Libya, whose reported CBW produc-
tion plant may serve as the rationale for a
U.S. attack. But beyond that, the U.S. has
a vast stockpile of 30,000 tons of CBWs
stored in the country and an additional
10,000 tons of CBWs deployed abroad.
With such a great investment in CBWs,
which originated with the mass production
of Agent Orange, the Reagan-Bush
administration may be highly resistant to
notions of CBW disarmament.
Moreover, under Reagan, funding for
CBW research and production has risen
from $29 million in 1980 to approxi-
Arlin Wasserman investigates military
research at the Universityfor the Michigan
Student Assembly

mately $245 million in 1988. (CBW costs
are minimal in relation to other weapons
systems since there is little equipment
needed for their production.) The United
States was also the last of 84 countries to
ratify the 1925 guidelines; it did so in
1975 at the end of the Vietnam war.
Until now, the Geneva guidelines of
1925 have provided little disincentive for
the use of CBWs and there are numerous
instances where CBWs have been used in
the 1980s. These include the much publi-
cized Iraqi use of gases during the Iran-Iraq
war in 1984 and 1988 and the Vietnamese
use of trichothecene mycotoxins against
Thailand in 1982. The U.S. government
reported that South Africa used chemical

CBWs are not a single weapon, how-
ever, and not all of their forms are as
abominable as the mustard and blister
gasses of World War I. They also include
many agricultural weapons such as defo-
liants like Agent Orange and fungi that
can wipe out specific crops, such as
Nicaraguan coffee that was decimated by a
previously unknown rust virus, or geneti-
cally modified diseases that can kill live-
stock. CBWs also include tear gas and
choking gas that the U.S. has used
domestically as well as abroad.
Current trends in CBW development in-
clude strengthening of older weapons like
mustard and nerve gases as well as the
modification of naturally occurring plant-


'The European press has carried stories of the United States it-
self using dengue fever against Nicaraguan civilians and bio-
logical weapons against cash crops in Nicaragua and Cuba.'

weapons including defoliants against An-
gola in 1978, 1982 and again in 1984.
Not so highly publicized in the United
States is the use of CBWs by U.S.-backed
regimes. The USSR reports that Afghani
rebels poisoned the water supplies of its
troops in 1986. Mexican newspapers re-
ported the Salvadoran government's use of
acidic sprays and burning white phospho-
rous against the opposition movement,
the FMLN/FDR. The European press has
carried stories of the United States itself
using dengue fever against Nicaraguan
civilians and biological weapons against
cash crops in Nicaragua and Cuba.
(Further documentation of these instances
is available in Gene Wars by Piller and

derived poisons and the controlled muta-
tion of existing diseases such as bubonic
plague, cholera and dengue fever; these
diseases are modified so that they cannot
be cured by readily available medicines.
However, aggressor countries are likely to
hold the antidote for ransom or surrender
or use it to immunize its own troops
which can then seize a debilitated and de-
moralized city or nation. (The paired cre-
ation of new forms of viruses and bacteria
coupled with new antidotes has compro-
mised numerous universities within the
United States and will be discussed in the
second part of this article.) But if other
countries follow the Soviet initiative, all
these chemical and biological weapons
may soon be obliterated from the planet.

Letters tio the editor

To the Daily:
Once again I am sickened by
the shoddy way in which your
paper (as a student I don't want
to have to take responsibility
for it) handles critical issues for
students on this campus.
Last night while working at
the 611 Church Street
Computing Center I was
approached by a Daily reporter
asking questions about the wait
at the center. She asked about
common student problems and
what students should know
about how to get along better
in the over-crowded campus
We attempted to give
answers which accurately
conveyed problems which
many of us have, as well as
ways to avoid them. We
proviied suggestions for
alternative sites to the most
well-known (611, Union, the
UGLI), and hoped for an article
that would increase student
awareness about the computing
centers and the problems
involved with using them.
Instead we get a poor attempt
at a humorous article about an
admittedly fictitious character.
The story's main concern was
to point out "humorous inci-
dents" (which the reporters kept
asking us about) and to lighten
what is, to most students, a
very serious issue.
I am not surprised at the
Daily's failure to seize an
opportunity to help the student
community it supposedly
represents, only sickened that
there is no opportunity to reach
students with relevant facts
about issues that are important
to them.
-Robb Lippitt
December 13
I r I

newspapers. It is with a great
sense of disappointment
therefore that we, the
undersignedpatrons of the
Fleetwood Diner, have learned
of the mean-spirited, vicious,
unwarranted, inaccurate.and
highly unprofessional attack
recently printed in the Daily
upon the staff and
management of the Fleetwood
- an establishment which
has outlived scores of
fashionable Ann Arbor com-
petitors since first opening its
doors in 1947.
It has come to our attention
that not only was the
interview that gave rise to this
piece conducted under false
pretenses, but that the author
of this "review," a Mr.
Michael Mosher, saw fit to
publish demeaning and false
interferences directed against
innocent employees, not the
least of which were cheap
remarks leveled at Mrs. Gloria
Vitaglioni, mother of three
and hostess.
We are offended that Mr.
Mosher, budding journalist
and would-be wit, was allowed
the use of this respected
platform to insult honest
working people. Mr. Mosher
should know that there is a
difference between criticizing
or lampooning institutional
leaders who are well-paid to
take the heat, and the
pointless defamation of
ordinary folks who have but
slender means to defend them-
In conclusion, the employees
of the Fleetwood Diner have a
message for Mr. Mosher:
"Sir, in the spirit of the sea-
son, we forgive you. If you
don't like the Fleetwood, you
don't have to eat here. If you
do eat here, next time leave a

tip and don't forget to pay for
the souvenirs - postcards are
35 cents each, four for a dol-
-Randy Pickut and
ninety-two cosignors
December 9
Even old

gan Union.
-Michele L. Thompson
Colleen Tighet
January 9




To the Daily:
As the project directors for
Advice magazine, we have re-
ceived several complaints from
professors about the data in
Advice magazine being inaccu-
rate. We would like to address
the fact that due to a variety of
problems, we were unable to
obtain the current data for the
Winter 1988 edition of Advice
magazine. Some of the data is
misleading because things like
the workload and median can
change from term to term.
However, because much of the
information is useful for stu-
dents, we decided to run the old
data. A student may use the
data to determine if one profes-
sor is better suited for him or
her than another based on the
rating given by other students.
Usually, if a professor is con-
sidered good by the student, he
or she will consistently receive
high marks and vice versa.
We sincerely apologize for
any problems this may have
caused. We are devoting time
to producing a helpful resource
for students so that they may
choose their classes more
Additional copies of Winter
1988 Advice magazine are
available at MSA 3909 Michi-

To the Daily:
In your opinion article
"Emphasize AIDS" (Daily,
12/6/88), you state "AIDS
has...preventative education."
Once again this is a clear
example of a complex issue
made simple by ignorant,
provincial, liberal thinking.
The author accuses that famous
institution called racism for the
AIDS virus' disproportionate
infiltration into the Black and
Hispanic communities. Before
one blames the governmental
institutions for poor care and/or
lack of education maybe one
should examine the real causes
of its spread, namely IV drug
abuse ad dangerous sexual
habits. These were not brought
on by a "white conspiracy" but
by an environment in which
the family unit has been
broken down and in which
basic moral values have van-
ished. Does one expect the
government to sit down with
each member at risk in these
communities with a cup of"
coffee and warn them of the:
dangers of the virus because
they cannot find out for'
themselves? Do not blame
racism for the plight of these
communities; blame those ele-
ments within these
communities which brought it
upon themselves.
-Robert Waxman
Mara Kasler
December 7'



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Daily Opinion Page letter policy
Due to the volume of mail, the Daily cannot print all the letters and
columns it receives, although an effort is made to print the majority of the


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