Dear Senator Inhofe,
We have followed your support for the people of Western Sahara and we completely agree that the situation there and in Tindouf should have been rectified years (decades) ago. As working mathematicians and economists, we corresponded with James A. Baker III, the former United States Secretary of State, and later long-time Personal Envoy of the United Nations Secretary-General for Western Sahara. As you know there has been a succession of distinguished and determined appointees including Christopher Ross, Peter van Walsum, and now former German president Horst Koehler. We saw and see the problems as not so much what questions a referendum should ask and who should be asked, but rather can an economically stable state that does not require the presence of United Nations peacekeeping troops be produced.
As you know, the disputed territory is 266,000 square kilometers. In view of 1100 kilometers of coastline we would be inclined to describe it as slightly larger than Oregon. As your colleagues Senators Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden would acknowledge, Western Sahara has much more and much lower desert than Oregon. Western Sahara also has much less fresh water either in the form of rain or rivers. We explored the viability of political divisions. Admittedly, using the older Rio de Oro boundary would have been easier had there been any gold, much less any river. Phosphates, iron and poorly managed fishing just do not provide enough income, and the populace has to import food. We consider His Majesty King Mohammed VI among the abler rulers on Planet Earth, so it would be difficult to imagine that he does not [privately] consider that Morocco has much better uses for its efforts and money. We did seriously analyze extensive solar energy build-outs as well as the large scale planting of bio-diesel sources such as selected species of Jatropha (Euphorbiaceae; sometimes known as the spurge family) for bio-fuel.