- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 14, 2000

Election moves toward end

The agonizing pain on the faces of the Gore camp, having received the U.S. Supreme Court's opinion Tuesday night and realizing defeat, was surpassed only by the frenzied, desperate convulsions of news media talking heads.

Flipping through the TV channels, one could see network anchors, their experts and their reporters from the nation's capital to Tallahassee, Fla., to Austin, Texas, in a pitiful, frantic search through the just-released opinion for any modicum of verbiage that might be interpreted (or even interpolated) as favoring a win for Vice President Al Gore.

As the full meaning of the opinion slowly became evident, the abject despair that permeated the "on air" news sets was reminiscent of the eulogistic aura surrounding the coverage of a state funeral.

So sad.

ARMOND "SI" SIMMONS

Pell City, Ala.

Election moves toward end

He didn't win the national popular vote, and he didn't win the Florida vote journalists and academics will most likely confirm that when the ballots are finally counted under Florida's sunshine law. But he did win the vote that counted, the U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling.

Rutherford B. Hayes was propelled to the presidency in 1876 by a similar partisan vote. By an 8-7 margin, an electoral commission appointed by Congress awarded all disputed votes to him. Hayes won by one vote in the Electoral College. He was known as "Old 8 to 7 Hayes."

"Five-to-four Bush" is now the president elect.

JOHN GARTNER

Towson, Md.

Election moves toward end

At this time, it's worth noting that if circumstances surrounding Vice President Al Gore and President-elect George W. Bush were reversed, each side would have done what it deplored the other side for doing.

Open-minded people admit (if only to themselves) that that is "What our people would do if we were in that position."

The ideologically motivated members of the U.S. Supreme Court would have issued exactly opposite opinions if the situation had been reversed.

For now, let's all wish the most important man in the world good luck and hope he proves to be the compassionate uniter he has told us he will be. That would be a welcome surprise indeed.

ALAN L. LIGHT

Iowa City, Iowa

Conservatives in military protecting freedoms of all Americans

George Thomas, in his Dec. 12 letter to the editor ("Readers await pivotal Supreme Court decision"), expressed his opinion that there is no room in a democracy for conservatives. I would like to remind Mr. Thomas that America's men and women in uniform protect the rights he enjoys as an American citizen all of his rights, including the right to dissent.

The majority of America's military forces, thank God, are conservatives who understand the principles of civilian rule of government, and who are sworn to give their lives, if necessary, in defense of those principles. Yet, there are those who would deny the ballot to our military personnel.

Perhaps it is Mr. Thomas who is not fit for democracy if he can no longer discern the need for both conservative and liberal views in a balanced, democratic social order.

He may do well to live outside the United States for a year or so to regain his lost perspective of what makes this nation great.

JON R. FORY

Alexandria

Land mines do more good than damage

Using Rachel Stohl's logic ("Land mines don't protect personnel," Letters to the Editor, Dec. 9), any weapon that is dangerous to our soldiers should be banned.

She argues that land mines are dangerous to U.S. soldiers, citing evidence that they caused casualties in Vietnam and the Gulf war. She neglects to point out, however, that mines also protected our soldiers in those conflicts. Mines were used extensively to protect U.S. and Allied soldiers in both base camps and in field operations.

As both a Vietnam war veteran and the first U.S. Army officer in Cambodia with the U.N. Advance Mission in Cambodia, I can assure Ms. Stohl that I am familiar with working and living in mine-heavy areas. Rather than insisting on hamstringing U.S. forces by denying them useful defensive weapons, I insist on training my soldiers to operate in all operational environments.

Mines kept my soldiers secure in Vietnam, and none of my U.N. peacekeepers was injured in Cambodia.

The Ottawa Convention will not solve the land mine problem, but it will deprive U.S. soldiers of an important defensive weapon. A better solution is strict enforcement of existing international law and agreements governing land mine use.

GEORGE W. STEUBER

Fort Sill, Okla.

Columnist out of touch with the real Indonesia

Arnold Beichman's Dec. 12 Op-Ed column "Not worth saving: Would anyone miss Indonesia?" fails on several points.

Mr. Beichman ignores the fact that the Acehnese fought for Indonesian independence and the Indonesian national ideal 55 years ago. He appears to have missed the news that East Timor has split from Indonesia, and doesn't seem to realize the territory is just half of a larger island known as "Timor." He uses an archaic spelling for Sulawesi Celebes that harks back to the days when cartographers mistakenly believed the contorted island was a small archipelago of its own.

All this in his first two paragraphs.

Not having done a good job of establishing his credibility, he goes on to make some rather outrageous claims. He says Indonesians across a broad swath of the country would give a "probably unanimous" rejection of the Indonesian national ideal if asked.

While many Indonesians are disillusioned with the state, and in Aceh and Irian Jaya a majority do appear to prefer independence, a great many people in the "Outer Islands" proudly call themselves Indonesian and use Bahasa Indonesia, the common language Mr. Beichman says does not exist.

It is this national language, after all, that is lifting Irian Jaya's independence hopes. The rugged province is home to more than 50 languages, and Bahasa Indonesia is the only lingua franca its independence leaders have ever known.

Mr. Beichman's statement "it should be remembered that there never was a country called Indonesia" is simply nonsensical. There was never a country called the United States of America either until, one day, there was.

The Indonesian state is indeed imperiled and there's no guarantee it won't fail but Mr. Beichman's analysis and grasp of the basic facts are deeply flawed.

DAN MURPHY

Jakarta, Indonesia

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