- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 31, 2007

For the record

Along with many of my colleagues, military generals and other experts, I encouraged the White House to consider sending more troops to Iraq (“Advocates of troop surge about-face in Congress,” Page 1, yesterday). But that was in 2004 and 2005, during a much earlier phase of the war. And it involved a much larger magnitude of order.

As we now know — thanks to their own admission — the Bush administration botched the invasion of Iraq and shortchanged our troops on the front end. Today, in February of 2007, in the middle of a full-blown civil war, another 20,000 more troops is insufficient to turn the tide — and certainly is about two years too late. Your story would have been accurate if you noted how skeptics in Congress encouraged the president to send more troops many years ago — and he ignored everyone.

SEN. JOHN KERRY

Washington

The show of (non)force on the border

Those of us who have had experience in law enforcement have an understanding of the meaning of the term “posse comitatus.” We understand why our military is proscribed from taking action against citizens, but the Arizona National Guard leaving its post after spotting armed men approaching is a different situation; in this case, the guard would have been involved in an action against criminals who were not American citizens (“Border retreat called right move,” Nation, Tuesday).

No matter how you feel about that particular mission or how it is interpreted, this is evident: American military personnel were forced to retreat on our own soil. Maj. Gen. David P. Rataczak can call it what he may, but “relocating” troops in the face of an armed adversary is a retreat in anyone’s language. This is disgusting and embarrassing to our military, and I would bet people are laughing about those guardsmen in Mexico.

As for the guards not taking action, they reflect the true wishes of President Bush: He doesn’t want any action taken against criminal Mexican aliens; the National Guard is there strictly for show, nothing else.

MAJ. ROBERT L. DI STEFANO

Baltimore Police Department (retired)

Abingdon, Md.

Pakistan subverts Afghanistan

M. Akram Shaheedi, the press minister for the Embassy of Pakistan, claims that Pakistan is doing all it can to support the United States during the war on terror (“The ‘hidden’ enemy,” Letters, Tuesday). Having been to Afghanistan twice in the past 18 months, I know that Taliban and al Qaeda fighters slink back across the Pakistan border to regroup and re-arm after launching attacks on American and other coalition fighters inside Afghanistan. Pakistan is also used as the jumping-off point before most of these attacks take place.

I also know that Pakistan has not arrested one senior Taliban leader since September 11, although it is an open secret that thousands of Talibanis live openly in cities such as Peshawar and Quetta. The “truce” made between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and the tribal leaders in North Waziristan has also been a boon for terrorists. A recent estimate produced by the U.S. military states that insurgent attacks are up 300 percent in this area since the truce was signed.

Far from preventing cross-border attacks into Afghanistan, which the treaty signers pledged to do, it is clear that just the opposite is happening. Pakistan is straddling the fence at the moment, watching and waiting to see if America and NATO can eventually suppress this fierce Taliban and al Qaeda counterattack. But it is patently false that Pakistan desires a stable Afghanistan. This possibility, Pakistan knows, will only weaken its influence in the region.

Pakistan needs to do much more than talk, or sign defeatist treaties that only benefit Islamic terrorists, before it can truly consider itself a true and staunch ally in the war on terror.

JOHN KRUTHAUPT

Woodbridge, Va.

Another school debate

Thomas Shannon, executive director emeritus, National School Board Association, advocates the amalgamation of all venues that touch children’s lives — schools, libraries, municipal recreation, health departments, juvenile law enforcement — into centers that would be second homes for children (“It’s not just the schools,” Letters, Saturday).

He advances these overarching second-family ideas in opposition to Mayor Adrian M. Fenty’s approach to do something about the ongoing failure of D.C. schools to provide children with a satisfactory education. While Mr. Fenty sees the schools as a problem (and indeed they are), Mr. Shannon sees the schools, despite their atrocious failures, as part of the solution.

While the D.C. schools have severe problems, the primary problem is not in the schoolhouse, it is in the students’ houses where families are broken. Students in D.C. schools are predominantly black, and 69 percent of black children are born into single-parent families. Single-parent families are the source of every social problem, including poverty, crime and poor education. This is the problem that must be attacked first.

Right now schools are a major part of the single-family problem. They train students to have premarital sex long before they are equipped financially, socially and psychologically to have children. The schools should be encouraging students to save sex for marriage or at least be neutral. Perhaps Mr. Shannon will address the fundamental problem of schools contributing to the breakdown of families.

Two-parent families usually ensure their children get a good education.

They send their children to school ready to learn and make sure the school provides a decent education. Schools and other government services will never be substitutes for the love and guidance of mothers and fathers.

RICHARD A. RETTA

Rockville

“It’s not just the schools” by Thomas Shannon wasoneof the scariestproposals that I have seen in a long time. His”Community Centers” would “be virtual second homes,” andwould “providethe loving, nurturing, affectionate environment.” That is the purpose of theactual family and home.

For a long time now, the left has wanted to remove the parents from children’s lives so that they can be brought up as well-behaved citizens of the state. Howlong would it be before Mr. Shannon and his ilk mandates attendance at these centers, first for those children with less than optimal families, then for all children simply on a preventative basis?

If Mr. Shannon wants to help families by providing facilities for parents to use with their children, then fine. I greatly appreciate Fairfax County’s excellent Recreational Centers and Parks. But to in any way replace the parents with “professional… staff” is to drive us down a road towards the Hitler Youth, which I am sure is a direction that we do not want to go.

PAUL BLASE

Alexandria

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