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Letters to the Editor
Will Fenty really challenge the gun-ban ruling? I do not believe that Mayor Adrian Fenty truly intends to appeal the Parker v. the District of Columbia decision, which protested the District gun ban ("City to appeal overturning of handgun ban," Metropolitan, Tuesday).
It appears to me that Mr. Fenty is trying to wiggle out of the dilemma that he has gotten himself into.
He will not take a chance in the Supreme Court, and he risks the ire of Judge Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Court of Appeals if he does not appeal.
In issuing the stay that allows the District to continue to enforce its gun regulation, Judge Silberman observed: "I assume it is understood that the District intends to petition for review in the Supreme Court. If it did not so intend, in my view, it would be inappropriate for it to have sought the stay."
I have read the briefs that Mr. Fenty and his council have filed asking for an extension until September 5 to actually file the appeal. I think it is certain to be turned down and is a transparent ruse to allow him to shirk his responsibility to his constituents and leave the District in the lurch.
Restrictive rules of engagement
"Deadly hesitation" (Inside the Ring, Friday) illuminated and reinforced a frightening and costly failure of U.S. war-fighting policy.
Granted, the soldiers at the Army JAG's Legal Center and School in Charlottesville have a difficult job deciphering the legalities of warfare, but I'd like to know if the officer that instructed "we must hesitate and be careful when we pull the trigger" has ever heard a shot fired in anger or led an infantry platoon into combat. I doubt it. Hesitation in combat equals death. Further, if JAG officers were attached to combat units, I guarantee the developers of rules of engagement (ROE) would have a different perspective of the subject.
To most young soldiers and Marines, ROE is confusing and vague. It is not as cut and dry as some would think, and the type of apparent instruction performed in Charlottesville is detrimental and disconcerting to our warriors in the field. You cannot expect your war fighters in life or death situations to simultaneously eliminate the enemy and care about their "hearts and minds." In real life combat, you cannot have your cake and eat it too.
We must realize strict adherence to rigid ROE standards, while well intentioned, is near sighted. I believe ROE is useful in certain situations. I understand and commend the United States attempt to win "hearts and minds." It is a crucial and often understated necessity in war. However, although misfortunate, collateral damage will inevitably occur in war. It is only through extensive target acquisition training that unintended casualties can be reduced. The biggest blunder in developing ROE standards is expecting our young heroes to fight with their hands tied behind their back. Let them perform their duties with both hands.
Former US Marine
National Defense Council Foundation
Anathema to a free press
It is outrageous for the National Press Club to be involved in the throwing out of a reporter from The Washington Times from a symposium sponsored by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and held at the National Press Club headquarters ("White House blamed for 'Islamophobia'," Page 1, Wednesday).
It doesn't matter if the National Press Club's only involvement was renting space for CAIR's symposium. If the National Press Club allows the censorship of a free press in its own building, why should anyone else care about advocating for a free press?
Systemic problems at the Red Cross
The Red Cross needs look no further than its own dysfunctional system for the shortage in the region's blood supply ("Blood supply shortage at 'crisis level'," Metropolitan, Wednesday).
I gave my 155th pint of blood this afternoon at the Red Cross's Gaithersburg donor center. I was first in line when the Center opened its door at noon and it took an hour before the staff managed to start drawing blood from me. When I left at 1:45PM, only five or six individuals had either finished given blood or where in the process of doing so.
I estimate there were at least 20 others waiting, and many others had left who could not wait. The staff could not be more pleasant and courteous, but the whole system is broken.
FRANCOIS L. QUINSON
Suggestions for the White House
Steve Chapman seems to want us out of Iraq ("Unshakeable Optimism," Commentary, Wednesday), but he fails to say so. He glibly abuses a story from Ronald Reagan to label President Bush as subject to "the hobgoblin of little minds" and even tries to portray him as Hitler-in-the-bunker with the wording of his essay's title.
With undue respect to Mr. Chapman, war isn't easy — there has never been a war for our survival which could not have been as glibly criticized. Since he failed to recommend anything (other than "try harder to please me"), here are a couple of my suggestions for the White House:
n Frequently quote the "Mission Accomplished" speech that has been so dishonestly mischaracterized by the media and more overt enemies. A public re-reading on the anniversary would help reinforce how wrong the treasonous critics have been.
n Bring military recruitment into the 21st century by dramatically reforming the reach and scope of inviting the volunteer preservers of freedom. Grant those who serve a fuller share of the honor they merit, and prove to America's foes that we are serious about winning.
The commitment of ground forces is a moral obligation to victory. They should only be withdrawn under one of two conditions:
n The end of a half century of stable occupation, with no potential enemy (like China or Russia in the cases of Japan and Germany) to be countered in the neighborhood.
n The final signal that a plethora of mushroom clouds is about to render the enemy territory incompatible with our ground forces' well-being.
We don't get to just leave. Our retreat from Vietnam resulted in untold deaths, but only willful ignorance can deny that a cut-and-run from Iraq will make that travesty look like a mere oopsie.
DAVID Y. CHIU
By David Keene
Conference showed that the values Reagan cherished still endure
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