The Afghanistan Embassy does not oppose drug eradication

Certain statements made by my colleagues and I in the Feb. 15 Hill article “Afghanistan officials question drug-eradication, nomination” were misunderstood or perhaps misinterpreted. The context of the article suggested that the Embassy of Afghanistan views both the [Bush] administration’s overall counter-narcotics strategy, and the nomination of William Wood to be ambassador to Afghanistan, as flawed. The embassy is appreciative of the United States’s focus on drug eradication and fully supports the nomination of Wood. The embassy has not been “closely watching” the nomination of Wood, as we do not involve ourselves in the sovereign affairs of the U.S. State Department. Caution about what constitutes a long-term and comprehensive poppy eradication strategy was misunderstood to be criticism of the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and the nomination of Wood.

Ending the influence of poppy in Afghanistan will indeed take a considerable amount of time and the commitment of the governments of Afghanistan and the United States. In my conversation with the Hill, I stressed the need to examine successful eradication campaigns in other countries and the need for a more comprehensive approach to counter-narcotics. The article omitted an important distinction between ground spraying and aerial spraying. The Afghan government has supported ground spraying, but has expressed that aerial spraying may be ineffective as a tool of our overall counter-narcotics strategy. While we have recommended approaching the narcotics question cautiously and called for broader reconstruction efforts in Afghanistan in our conversations with administration officials, we are in no way critical of the war on drugs being fought by both Afghanistan and the United States.

Washington, D.C.

CHC insult shows women still suffer discrimination

From Martha Sterling-Golden, president, Women’s Campaign School at Yale

The continuing controversy at the heart of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus (article, “Five more in CHC may quit over ‘whore’ insult,” Feb. 16) demonstrates exactly why more women must be brought into leadership roles in both parties.

It is deeply disappointing to know that, at a time when the United States Congress is being led by a woman for the first time in history, we must still endure this kind of back-channel discrimination, which is alive and well, to varying degrees, in both parties.

That being said, in reviewing committee assignments as of last week, the Democratic assignments to women were greater than those ranking members of the Republican side. This inequity must be addressed, and we were glad to see a January article in The Hill announcing a new GOP initiative to recruit more women.

We are well past the time for seeking increased tolerance; women now expect full-scale acceptance from our colleagues — and have earned it.

We hope to see the issues raised in the CHC addressed immediately, and we salute those members who have brought the issue into the public realm for discussion.