- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 29, 2006

Tougher border patrol

The article “Mexican border incursions redux: In 1916, Wilson sent in the Army” (Page 1, Friday) emphasizes how the U.S. government continues its habitual laxity regarding immigration law. The president and Congress obviously ignore the fact that there is an underlying link between controlling illegal immigration and enhancing national security.

A nation cannot have open borders and win the war on terror. Plato once stated that the four political virtues are wisdom, temperance, courage and justice. It’s unfortunate for American citizens that our president and Congress lack all four virtues. Rather than protecting the interests and national security of the American people, our elected officials continue to focus on “cheap” labor and competition between the two parties for campaign funds.

If our public servants had any concern for American citizens or the political virtues stated by Plato, then the U.S. military would have been sent to secure our border against the illegal invasion by the Mexican Army.

BOB ALLAN

Rochester Hills, Mich.

Addressing a flu pandemic

James Greenwood’s warning to “aggressively prepare for an influenza pandemic” (“Pandemic flu: Prepare now,” Commentary, Tuesday) seems to be an example of a former congressman pandering to his new industry.

While Mr. Greenwood is correct about the marketplace’s predictable failure to prepare us for pandemics and our nation’s urgent need for government financing to invest in such lifesaving measures as vaccines, he neglects to inform his readers about the most cost-effective measure of investing federal tax dollars beyond our shores.

If our intent is saving lives, saving money and protecting the national security of the United States, nothing is wiser than investing U.S. federal tax dollars in basic water, sanitation, nutrition, primary health care and education programs in the poorest nations of the world.

As the secretary of Health and Human Services once said, addressing pandemics is like fighting forest fires. Being present at the first spark requires only a single foot to stomp it out. Waiting even a day or two can ensure a global catastrophic event.

Even if the U.S. biotech industry were capable of adequate vaccine development, production and distribution in the United States prior to the fire hitting our shores, the destruction of human life globally would still devastate global commerce, which would immediately devastate our nation economically.

Worse yet, the political, social and economic instability that a pandemic would cause in the rest of the world would only fuel the lethal growth of the other global killers who thrive on chaos — terrorists.

Mr. Greenwood should be alerting policy-makers to the urgent need to invest most of President Bush’s pandemic control spending increase into infectious disease prevention efforts around the world. This might not benefit Mr. Greenwood’s industry, but it would be the wisest investment our nation could make in protecting the security, freedoms and prosperity of all Americans.

CHUCK WOOLERY

Editorial Board

World Hunger Education Service

Rockville

An unacceptable tactic

The account about Iraq reported in the article “U.S. Army held wives to coerce insurgents” (World, Saturday) is breathtaking.

As a Foreign Service officer at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, during the Soviet occupation, I gathered and shared with the international media reports of Soviet Army atrocities. I distinctly remember reporting incidents where Soviet troops took wives and even children of Mujahideen commanders hostage to get the husbands/fathers to surrender.

U.S. troops are, of course, not in the class of the Soviet military, but I am appalled to discover U.S. troops using this same tactic. I am also a Vietnam veteran and hold memories from that war I would rather forget. But I never recall U.S. troops in Vietnam taking innocent family members hostage to force the surrender of a husband or a father.

We are better than this, aren’t we?

EDMUND MCWILLIAMS

Falls Church

Denouement for Kerry

As far as Sen. John F. Kerry’s run again for the Oval Office, it won’t take the swift boaters to derail his effort in 2008 (“Indulging the romance of a lost cause,” Pruden on Politics, Friday).

Denouement for Mr. Kerry came quickly. After prompting by the New York Times and prodding by Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, Mr. Kerry’s fate was sealed by a few trans-Atlantic phone calls from Switzerland in a attempt to rally fellow senators to filibuster Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr.’s nomination.

Perhaps the best response in regards to Mr. Kerry’s overseas communications was uttered by Scott McClellan at his White House briefing Friday: “It takes some pretty serious yodeling to call for a filibuster from a five-star ski resort in the Swiss Alps.”

W. HUSTON SMITH

Rancho Mirage, Calif

Other problems in Detroit

I am an automotive engineer by education and see several questionable assumptions in John Hall’s “Detroit meets Gasoline Alley” (Commentary, Saturday). Few people read the annual “EPA Mileage Guide” for all cars on the market, but I do. There was a time, 10 or 20 years ago, when foreign-made cars led the mileage ratings, but not by much over the Ford Escort. I think there were half a dozen models that got 55 miles per gallon or more. One got 58 mpg and was on the market until the year before hybrids came on the market.

Think about it. That is better than the hybrids and it was not taken off the market because the hybrids beat it. For no apparent reason the high-mileage cars lost their high mileage, dropping 10 to 20 mpg. It would be hard to support the claim that Japanese and other foreign automakers cleaned Detroit’s clock in building fuel-efficient autos, as Mr. Hall claims, or in building better autos, as a recent poll cited by Fox News’ Neil Cavuto shows people believe.

In fact, it is not true. The reason Detroit is in trouble has less to do with labor unions — they were able to compete with that problem — than the problem of perception in the minds of the buyers. Who created this perception of lower quality and fuel efficiency? Mr. Hall is part of the problem, but I believe it started in 1992 with the presidential campaign. Remember, “It’s the economy, stupid”? For the Democratic party to win the election over an incumbent, the economy had to decline. It did, barely, and for a while, and part of the reason was the efforts to depress industry in Detroit. The automobile industry was once the most important in America. Therefore, depress it and depress the economy.

Most believe that it pays to advertise and, at the time, I saw free advertising given to the opposing manufacturers. It has continued and Detroit’s share of the market continues to decline despite leadership in several areas. If you were out to destroy the American economy, who would you be and how would you do it and how would you tell if it was working?

KENNETH TUTTLE

Chester, Md

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