- The Washington Times - Sunday, April 23, 2006

A defensive war on terror?

William S. Lind writes that the conservative movement is in error for going on the offensive against terrorism (“Strategic error?” Culture, et cetera, Thursday). He uses Prussian military theorist Carl von Clausewitz’s “On War” to support his position that a defensive war is the better option to preserve our country and its rights.

First, von Clausewitz was writing of classic war — that is, two armies meeting in battle on a field, not a small group of madmen bent on civilian death. Second, the defensive war was tried during the 1990s. It resulted in the bombing of the Khobar Towers, used to house foreign military personnel in Saudi Arabia, in 1998; the USS Cole in Yemen in 2000; the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 and the destruction of the Pentagon and World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Finally, an offensive posture is made imperative by the rapid expansion of the nuclear club to include the rogue state of Iran, which makes its foreign policy the export of terrorism. A defensive posture only emboldens the criminals on the world stage.

MICHAEL SIEWERTSEN

Huntingtown, Md.

Aero-mech no panacea for Army

The impassioned presentationofaero-mechanized ground forces by retired Maj. Gen. Robert H. Scales (“Military strategies,” Op-Ed, Thursday), is a compelling piece of science fiction, but fiction nonetheless. Several of the suppositions do not hold up to scrutiny, at least on the modern battlefield.

To begin with, the Army already has the Stryker Light Armored Vehicle, which will be the center of the Army’s Interim Brigade Combat Teams. The Stryker was designed to be air-transportable with either the C-130 or C-17, so it seems to fit the description of this envisioned aero-mechanized force. For a lighter alternative the Army also has the up-armored Humvee. Despite the added armor the Stryker or the Humvee affords the infantryman, a check of the casualty figures for Iraq will show that many of those soldiers and Marines were in vehicles at the time of attack. Further,eventhehighly vaunted M1A1 tank was breached in several incidents by infantry weapons, so armor is not the solution, keeping troops from being shot at is.

Beyond the idea of mechanized invulnerability was the idea of area control by vehicle mounted troops. The Army had sufficient numbers of Strykers in Iraq to have conducted the assault on Fallujah entirely from the inside of vehicles, but they did not, because searching and clearing buildings and penetrating narrow alleyways must be done on foot, once again at the risk of the infantryman.

How a temporary enclave could be established around a facility such as the Natanz nuclear enrichment site, so that nuclear components could be secured bloodlessly, is beyond me, since foot soldiers would have to enter the bunkers that would undoubtedly be protected by Revolutionary Guards forces.

All of this is further predicated on the aerial transports flying through a very sophisticated system of air-defense radars and missiles, designed to intercept high-priced frontline fighters, so lumbering transports would be easy pickings.

And, finally, I also do not see how the Iranian people would be greatly offended by a series of airstrikes aimed at nuclear weapons facilities, but would not be offended at the same level by the temporary surgical occupation of their country by U.S. forces that remove nuclear weapons components and destroy their means for making more.

Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld’s transformation plans, which are perhaps the greatest motivator behind the recent “revolt of the generals,” are designed to deliver smaller, lighter, faster-moving ground forces that can be easily deployed and redeployed, but they are no panacea.

Urban terrains will always remain hostile to ground forces, unless we are going to bomb them into vehicle-accessible parking lots. To the extent that intelligence and targeting allow, the solution is precision bombing that does not put ground troops in the line of fire in the first place.

PETER LOCKE

Ashburn, Va

Global education initiative needed

Thank you for taking a stand on global education and the need to eliminate school fees in poor countries (“Boosting education in Africa,” Editorial, April 17). Recently UNICEF and the World Bank held a meeting in Kenya so countries that have eliminated school fees could share best practices with countries who want to make this bold policy decision. The meeting was a critical step toward reaching the Millennium Development Goal of universal access to education by 2015, which will be nearly impossible without removing these fees.

Poor countries are ready to offer education to all children, and Britain has shown tremendous leadership and compassion with its new $15 billion commitment to help these countries scale up. More than 100 million children are out of school, and we have less than 10 years to meet the 2015 goal. More importantly, for the children who are kept out of the classroom — girls, orphans and other poor and vulnerable kids — every single day matters.

The U.S. needs to think big now. A new initiative with the end goal of getting more girls, orphans and vulnerable children in school is the way forward.

KOLLEEN BOUCHANE

Washington

Spending growth and enslavement

In the commentary by Walter Williams (“Is there a deficit?” Commentary, Saturday), he poses the question and then goes on to give us the useful information that excessive spending is the real culprit, and the growth of government spending makes part-time slaves of all of us. But he never really answers the question. The answer is yes, there is a deficit — our government spends more than it receives, and it is destroying our country.

Historically, the liberals discovered that excessive spending financed by debt is a sure way to win friends (and votes). Their opposition tried to counter this, not by reducing spending, but by reducing taxes, which also won friends (and votes). When, under President Reagan, the conservatives took charge, they zealously cut taxes, but still managed to increase spending, thus winning even more friends (and votes). Finally under President Clinton, the “ruling elite” got rid of the bothersometariffs.This opened up our consumer markets to foreign producers and destroyed our ability to manufacture the goods that we need. So we can’t (or won’t) pay enough taxes to finance the spending that we demand. This is what produces the deficit, and we “solve” our problem by borrowing from other countries.

The really interesting question is what do our foreign friends do with the money they get from our consumers. They cannot buy ordinary manufactured items from us, so they buy rocket technology, advanced computer technology, military equipment etc. They buy up American companies, American real estate and American politicians. This still leaves them with enough money to buy the bonds that are needed to finance our deficit.

We could balance the budget by a constitutional amendment that would prohibit spending, in a current year, more than was received in the previous year. We could eliminate the balance of payments deficit by self-adjusting tariffs equal to the deficit in the balance of payments. We could reduce foreign aid and stop involving ourselves in foreign wars. We could (but should not) pay off our bonds by printing money.

But in all probability, the problem will solve itself as foreign governments take full control of our government and dictate to us a “solution” that suits their best interests.

CARL E. OCKERT

Vienna, Va.

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