Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Population Control or Imperialism?

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Population Control or Imperialism?

Article excerpt

Does Saudi Arabia know something the United States doesn't?

The Saudis have pulled out of the U.N. population conference scheduled to begin today in Cairo. No reason was given, but clearly the pressure from conservative Islamic clerics was a major factor.

A leading Arab columnist, Mohammed Salahideen, has written of the conference, "This is an attempt to tear the values and beliefs of Islam from their roots. It is a ferocious attack on Islam and Muslims and their most holy beliefs."

For decades, the United States was viewed by much of the Third World as a political imperialist, seeking to impose its power and way of life on others. Now, with the Cairo conference, which has a goal of limiting world population growth, it risks an even worse type of intervention: cultural imperialism.

If the United States thinks it has problems now with Muslims, wait until it arouses their wrath by trying to impose birth control, abortion and other forms of family planning. Will terrorist activity explode in this country when Muslim extremists hit back at the Great Satan for exporting what the Islamic world views as Western depravity?

At the heart of the Cairo conference is the belief that there are too many people on the planet and that reducing the number of mouths to feed is the only way to control famine and lessen the chances of tribal and other conflicts.

As early as 1850, the accelerated growth of population, brought on by developments in medicine, along with urban migration caused by the industrial revolution, led economists like Thomas Malthus to link such growth to poverty. By the 1950s, some countries that had accepted this theory were developing policies to hold down the rate of population growth and fostered the idea that it could impede the progress of the world as a whole.

This is a central tenet in "Earth in the Balance," the book written by the man who is heading the U.S. delegation to Cairo, Vice President Al Gore. But he, like others who think our resources are already limited and can't stand more consumers, is wrong. People are a resource, not a problem. Governments, particularly those that limit freedom and have economic systems that stifle growth, are the problem. …

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