Letters to the Editor

Posted: Monday, September 30, 2002

Bush policy on Iraq arrogant; U.S. should learn from past mistakes

"There are two Americas. One is the America of Lincoln and Adlai Stevenson; the other is the America of Teddy Roosevelt and the modern superpartriots. One is generous and humane, the other narrowly egotistical; one is self-critical, the other self-righteous; one is sensible, the other romantic; one is good humored, the other solemn; one is inquiring, the other pontificating; one is moderate, the other filled with passionate intensity; one is judicious and the other arrogant in the use of great power. ... Both are characterized by a kind of moralism, but one is the morality of decent instincts tempered by the knowledge of human imperfections and the other is the morality of absolute self-assurance fired by the crusading spirit. ... The United States must decide which of the two sides of its national character is to predominate -- the humanism of Lincoln or the arrogance of those who would make America the world's policeman."

The above was written by Sen. William Fulbright in a book titled "The Arrogance of Power." It was published in 1966.

As I reread sections of the book today, a sadness came over me -- President Bush has chosen first strike options and military supremacy as a cornerstone of his National Security Strategy. This is the America of arrogance that led to Vietnam during my youth. The tears of war still come to my eyes when I think about the terrible times in the United States and abroad during that period of history. I will always remember young college students dying at Kent State, the body bags and injured youth coming home, the parents crying on the streets of everyday places, the hate toward young soldiers who were victims of arrogance, and the feel of a rifle in my hands during military exercises.

I hope those of you with young sons and daughters never know the cost of arrogance.

Kenneth E. Tarbox, Soldotna

Oil spokesman unfairly criticized study's methods, says author

As the author of a study on the performance of Cook Inlet watershed pipeline companies described in a Clarion article on Sept. 19 ("Report critical of inlet oil firms"), I am writing to respond to Forest Oil's Gary Carlson's statement that the study is "misleading."

First, although Mr. Carlson thinks a volume-based rating of pipeline company performance should have been used, Keeper disagrees. The "Lurking Below" study clearly states "Keeper believes that using the number of spills rather than the volume released results in a better measure of operator of performance," since a large number of spills, even small spills, suggests poor operator oversight. Second, even though Forest Oil received a "poor" rating with 12 percent of the watershed's reported spills and only 1 percent of the watershed's oil pipeline mileage, the study and our press materials make it very clear that Forest Oil's spills are significantly smaller than Unocal's, which also had a disproportionate number of spills and received a "poor" rating. Third, while it's possible that Forest Oil does a better job of reporting its spills than other companies, Keeper has no way of including unreported spills in its performance ranking -- ensuring that all pipeline spills are reported is the job of government regulators, so perhaps Mr. Carlson should ask them to pursue nonreporters more vigorously than they have to date.

On the day of the study's release, I called Mr. Carlson to let him know about the report's availability and to encourage him to work with Cook Inlet Keeper to address the issues raised. Although Mr. Carlson heard directly from me Keeper's reason for issuing the study, i.e., to address the documented concerns, in speaking to the Clarion, he nevertheless "questioned Epstein's motives for writing a report so obviously critical of the oil companies" (leaving aside the fact that four Cook Inlet pipeline operators received "good" or "excellent" ratings, which are far from "critical").

Mr. Carlson's comments to the media criticizing the study's results without a full review of its contents and his unfair condemnation of my motives distract from the issues raised. The concerns discussed in the study deserve a thoughtful response, not hasty attacks on the message and the messenger.

Lois N. Epstein, P.E., Senior Engineer, Cook Inlet Keeper



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