- The Washington Times - Friday, September 28, 2001

U.S. going wobbly against Taliban

The United States is already beginning to project an image of disunity and lack of resolve, threatening to "go wobbly." First we had Secretary of State Colin Powell on television watering down the president's objectives. Now the Rev. Jesse Jackson is considering taking a "peace delegation" to Afghanistan to meet with the Taliban.
Mr. Powell has implied that the Taliban could be let off the hook, and possibly even benefit, if they hand over Osama bin Laden. And Mr. Jackson thinks it is important that "this situation (be) resolved in a way that preserves the dignity and integrity of all sides." This is what we have now a "situation" that needs to be "resolved"? And the "dignity and integrity" of the Taliban should be preserved?
Dame Thatcher, call your office. Better still, call the White House.

MARY T. MIGALA
Hummelstown, Pa.

Can cockpit commandos shoot and fly at the same time?

While I believe that arming pilots is a good idea, it has a few drawbacks ("Arm the pilots," Editorials, Sept. 27).
In a crisis, I would hope that the pilot of a flight I was on would be concentrating fully on flying the aircraft, and it is conceivable that shooting at a hijacker might distract the pilot from that task. The man or woman in the cockpit is usually the only one on board capable of bringing the aircraft safely to the ground. Certainly, give the flight crew arms, but also fortify the door to the flight deck.
There is another potential solution that has not been discussed. Each day, hundreds of law enforcement officers fly on commercial aircraft, either for business or pleasure. Except in rare circumstances, if they take their weapons along on the trip, they check them as baggage. There is a course required by the Federal Aviation Administration for those who must carry weapons on a flight, for instance, to escort a prisoner. Why not encourage more state and local officers to take the course and allow them to carry their weapons on board the aircraft? All FBI agents, Drug Enforcement Administration officials and other federal law enforcement officers carry their weapons at all times.
With new legislation, training and the development of administrative procedures, we could have many more armed officers on board our aircraft. Plus, they would be equipped with the experienced cop's "street sense" and judgment developed by years of dealing with violent offenders.
The cost would be minimal to nonexistent. This alternative would provide another layer of security for our commercial aviation fleet and allow intervention outside of the flight deck, so that the crew could concentrate on getting the aircraft to a lower altitude and landing as quickly as possible.

PAUL BISDORF
Broken Arrow, Okla. Your argument in favor of arming commercial pilots contains several flaws ("Arm the pilots," Sept. 27). You respond to opponents of this plan by claiming that we don't fret that law enforcement officers could be disarmed and have their weapons used against them. In reality, police officers are frequently shot with their own guns so much so that there is a police axiom that says you should always wear a vest that can stop your own bullets.
Furthermore, police are not routinely preoccupied by something other than their law enforcement duties; pilots are, particularly during take-off and landing. It is currently difficult for a terrorist to smuggle a gun aboard a commercial plane. By arming pilots, however, a trained terrorist will know that there is a firearm aboard an aircraft, will know exactly where that firearm is, and will know that the possessor of this firearm will be preoccupied at certain predictable times during the flight.
A more rational solution would be to have an armed plainclothes air marshal aboard the plane.

ROBERT J. PETERSON
Arlington

'Canadian umbrage' column lacks facts

Arnold Beichman's Sept. 26 Commentary column "Canadian umbrage" is simply not true. The first phone call the president received from a foreign leader offering condolences and assistance was from Prime Minister Jean Chretien. The morning of the attack, while the threat persisted, Canada began taking in 224 curtailed flights and providing security and shelter to more than 33,000 U.S.-destined passengers when the United States closed its air space.
President Bush was unequivocal: "There should be no doubt in anybody's mind about how honored we are to have the support of the Canadians and how strong the Canadian prime minister's been in not only his condolences but his offer of support for the American people. … I suggest those who try to play politics with my words and drive wedges between Canada and me understand that at this time, when nations are under attack, now is not the time for politics. Now is the time to develop a strategy to fight and win the war."
Mr. Chretien was equally categorical: "[The United States] has the support of Canadians. When you will need us, we will be there."
I suggest that Mr. Beichman check his facts.

TERRY R. COLLI
Director
Public Affairs Division
Canadian Embassy
Washington

Defending Solzhenitsyn

It is appalling to read the vituperative and baseless attack on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn by Semyon Reznik, which masquerades as a book review on the pages of The Washington Times ("Russian icon through Western lens," Books, Sept. 23). Mr. Reznik offers a few condescending words of praise for the book he claims to be analyzing ("Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Ascent From Ideology" by Daniel J. Mahoney), before proceeding to vent his formidable peeves against Russia.
Mr. Reznik's depiction of Russia's assassinated Prime Minister Pyotr Stolypin is beholden to the defamatory Soviet version that he must have memorized in his school days. He unscrupulously ignores the historical context that Stolypin single-handedly stabilized a country reeling from a systematic campaign of revolutionary terror that killed more than 20,000 innocents. In subscribing to the preposterous conspiracy theory that the czar's government killed Stolypin, Mr. Reznik implies that prerevolutionary Russia was ruled by men as dehumanized as the Bolsheviks. As for Mr. Solzhenitsyn's description of Stolypin's assassin in "August 1914," Mr. Reznik claims that "the most important aspect of [Dimitry] Bogrov's action is his Jewish origin." It may be the only aspect that Mr. Reznik cared to notice in his tendentious reading, but Mr. Solzhenitsyn clearly shows that the prime mover behind Bogrov's act was the ideological atmosphere that made him believe he was entitled, even compelled, to act.
Furthermore, Mr. Reznik declares that "most reviewers" find Mr. Solzhenitsyn's recent book on Jews in Russia anti-Semitic. This is flagrantly untrue. In reality, Mr. Solzhenitsyn's "Two Hundred Years Together" has contributed to an open and civil dialogue within Russia concerning the mistakes and grievances related to the country's "Jewish question." Mr. Solzhenitsyn writes in a spirit of constructive conversation, reflection and self-criticism. Yet Mr. Reznik treads the same old battleground, throwing inflammatory volleys, bent on reviving the specter of an entire "Russian anti-Semitic subculture."
Why does any of this matter? Yesterday, American conservatives stood up to communism. Today, it is critically important that they not misconstrue Russia's very roots (as Mr. Reznik does) to be anti-Semitic and outright evil. This dangerous bias can only poison the well of future Russian-American relations.

STEPHAN SOLZHENITSYN
Boston

Stephan Solzhenitsyn is the son of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

'Canadian umbrage' column lacks facts

Arnold Beichman's Sept. 26 Commentary column "Canadian umbrage" is simply not true. The first phone call the president received from a foreign leader offering condolences and assistance was from Prime Minister Jean Chretien. The morning of the attack, while the threat persisted, Canada began taking in 224 curtailed flights and providing security and shelter to more than 33,000 U.S.-destined passengers when the United States closed its air space.
President Bush was unequivocal: "There should be no doubt in anybody's mind about how honored we are to have the support of the Canadians and how strong the Canadian prime minister's been in not only his condolences but his offer of support for the American people. … I suggest those who try to play politics with my words and drive wedges between Canada and me understand that at this time, when nations are under attack, now is not the time for politics. Now is the time to develop a strategy to fight and win the war."
Mr. Chretien was equally categorical: "[The United States] has the support of Canadians. When you will need us, we will be there."
I suggest that Mr. Beichman check his facts.

TERRY R. COLLI
Director
Public Affairs Division
Canadian Embassy
Washington

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