- The Washington Times - Friday, January 27, 2006

The Army is stronger than ever

With 21 years of service in the Army and still serving, I would have to say that our Army is stronger than it ever has been (“Rumsfeld says Army ‘not broken,’ “Nation, Thursday). Because of our great soldiers and leaders and the experience we have gained, we stand more capable and ready to defeat the enemies of our nation whenever and wherever called.

My firsthand opinion stands in sharp contrast to the recent reports about the state of our Army offered by Andrew F. Krepinevich Jr. and his Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. Mr. Krepinevich contends that our Army is a “Thin Green Line,” but if you go to his think tank’s Web site, you will find this assessment was written in 2004 and seems merely to be a hodgepodge of secondhand information with the only conclusion being the title.

My assessment is built upon the confidence I have in my leaders and interaction with soldiers deployed in harm’s way. I personally know a highly motivated 20-year-old who just graduated basic training. I saw a National Guard brigade redeploy from a year of combat duty in Iraq and immediately leave to conduct a hurricane-relief mission. I am proud to serve in the Army, and after being stuck in the Pentagon for two years, I am ready to deploy again. Sure we are carrying a heavy load for our nation, but that is what we get paid to do.

Lt. Col. JAY CARLSON

United States Army

Arlington

Canada’s sovereignty

The honeymoon already is over between the Bush and Harper administrations (“Canada’s new leaders,” Editorial, Wednesday). David Wilkins, the U.S. ambassador to Canada, stated that plans to assert Canadian jurisdiction of the Arctic are unacceptable. During the recent election, Mr. Wilkins expressed his dismay with statements made by outgoing Prime Minister Paul Martin. He refrained at that time from expressing his views on the Conservative Party’s plans to build three military-class icebreakers to enforce Canadian sovereignty in Arctic waters.

I did not vote for the Conservatives because I do not support the social-conservative policies many in that party openly support. Instead, I voted for the social-democratic New Democratic Party, which has social and economic policies closer to my own beliefs. On the other hand, the one part of the Conservative platform with which I do agree is increasing the military budget.

After years of cuts to military budgets under both Liberal and Conservative administrations, this is perhaps a government that will increase military spending. Most important is the rebuilding of the naval services. Canada must increase coastal defense for a multitude of reasons.

One important reason is to defend Canada — and, as a result, the United States — from terrorist attacks.

Another is to stop general criminal activity in illegal goods.

Most important is to establish Canada’s control of its national waters. Being from Newfoundland and Labrador, I know how the Canadian federal government has in the past failed to protect the economic resources of its waters. Canada has never had the will or the might to protect the lives and livelihoods of its coastal populations.

The time has come to protect the interests of Canada in the same way that Americans would expect their national government to act. It was refreshing to hear Prime Minister-designate Stephen Harper state today that, Mr. Wilkins’ comments aside, Canada’s sovereignty would be protected.

DENIS O’BRIEN

Whitehorse, Yukon

Kaine’s Virginia

The National Taxpayers Union supports Citizens Against Government Waste 100 percent in its efforts to shine light on pork-barrel spending in Virginia, but taxpayers now have an opportunity to stop wasteful spending before it happens (“The mark of Kaine,” Commentary, Wednesday). One local transportation project, the extension of Metrorail to Washington Dulles International Airport, is destined to be a costly boondoggle that does nothing to solve the area’s traffic woes.

According to backers of the Dulles connection, extending rail to Dulles — at an estimated cost of $5 billion — will be at least 20 times more expensive than comparable bus rapid transit systems.

The fact that federal, state and local taxpayers would be forced to pay a combined total of $5 billion for a project the federal government has categorized as “medium-low” in cost-effectiveness is both silly and symbolic of the misplaced priorities at all levels of government, especially when it comes to allocating transportation resources.

Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine has pledged to tackle congestion in Northern Virginia, but wasting billions on an overpriced new Dulles Metro extension and possibly adding another new tax dedicated to mass transit (as many local leaders have proposed) simply don’t make sense.

If Mr. Kaine stops this boondoggle before it starts rolling down the tracks and chooses instead to expand the role of private enterprise in providing basic infrastructure rather than raising taxes, he will be well on his way to keeping his promises.

PAUL J. GESSING

Director of government affairs

National Taxpayers Union

Alexandria

Cal Thomas is so dismissive of Virginia Gov. Tim Kaine you might think he was afraid of him. He should be.

Mr. Kaine represents everything that doesn’t make sense to a conservative like Mr. Thomas. The governor is smart but modest, compassionate but tough, religious but tolerant. In other words, he’s a man who defies liberal stereotypes and appeals to independents.

Mr. Kaine was elected in a traditionally conservative state because voters were tired of a Republican party that offered only arrogance, incompetence, corruption and debt. While his opponent ran on expanding the death penalty, Mr. Kaine ran on good management and fiscal responsibility.

It took Virginia four years to raise itself out of the billion-dollar debt incurred under the last Republican governor, Jim Gilmore, who risked the state’s credit rating by recklessly cutting taxes. Mr. Kaine understands that public institutions and infrastructure cost money, and that borrowing is not the answer.

So Cal Thomas and other Republicans are right to be fearful. Tim Kaine stands for a new wave of Democrats they can’t understand, can’t intimidate, can’t control and can’t defeat.

ROBERT J. INLOW

Charlottesville

Oregon’s suicide pact

Paul Greenberg accuses Justice Antonin Scalia of allowing “his ideology” to override “legal principles” in his dissent in the recent Oregon ruling (“Federalism vs. life,” Commentary, yesterday). However, it was then-Attorney General John Ashcroft’s assertion — not Justice Scalia’s — that lethal overdoses of controlled substances do not fit within the “legitimate medical purpose” or “public health and safety” provisions of the federal drug regulations.

This conclusion was supported by innumerable historical sources, modern-day opposition to assisted suicide by the American Medical Association and past enforcement of the regulations against physicians who negligently prescribed drugs that were used for suicide. Justice Scalia merely faulted the majority justices for disregarding the Supreme Court’s own rule that an agency’s interpretation of its own regulations ought to be controlling unless “plainly erroneous.”

In his enthusiasm to fly the flag of federalism, Mr. Greenberg overlooks another point. If there is no federalism argument against the Controlled Substances Act — and Mr. Greenberg makes none — then there is no federalism argument against allowing states to amend it unilaterally. In other words, Oregon may declare that assisted suicide is legitimate medicine within its borders, but it cannot declare itself exempt from federal restrictions on the use of barbiturates. Sadly, there are other ways Oregonians can help each other commit suicide if that is their aim. If the federal law against lethal overdoses was not clear enough for Justice Anthony Kennedy and company, Congress can clarify it without running afoul of federalism.

CATHY CLEAVER RUSE

Senior fellow for legal studies

Family Research Council

Washington

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