- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 11, 2001

Gilmore deserves gratitude of Virginia businesses

Bravo to Stephen Moore ("Virginia's defectors to the pro-tax lobby," Commentary, Feb. 7). It's about time someone told the real story about Virginia businesses' opposition to tax cuts.

It is not surprising to see the media incessantly beating the drum for more and higher taxes. Nor is it surprising that they are castigating Virginia Gov. James S. Gilmore IIIfor having the integrity to honor his promises to reduce taxes and the temerity actually to believe in such a policy. We would just expect Northern Virginia Democrats to equate higher spending on education with better results, notwithstanding the lack of evidence to support that position.

Those Democrats' strategy to goad Mr. Gilmore into reneging on the pledge that was responsible for his election is a smart one. (Meanwhile, Democratic gubernatorial nominee Mark Warner quietly agrees that the car tax phaseout should be completed.) But it speaks volumes for the stupidity and intellectual bankruptcy of Republican "leaders" when they buy into this nonsense. Even more disappointing are businessmen who criticize the wise fiscal policies that make Virginia such an attractive place to locate their companies. Will these people never learn? Why don't they move to Maryland, where the governor is in step with such government growth programs?

Actually, these Virginia businesses are well aware that there is plenty of fat to cut out of government, and that is exactly what they do with their businesses when they need to fund priority projects. But having others pay for their wish list is so much easier and more popular. The Chamber of Commerce and its statist cronies are fortunate that Mr. Gilmore is not caving in to them. Someday they may thank him for his courage, but let's not hold our breath.

RICHARD ADAMS

Great Falls

Chrysler-Daimler 'merger of equals' was exercise in hubris

The 26,000 layoffs proposed in Chrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche's "turnaround" plan will do more harm than good ("Chrysler to eliminate 26,000 jobs," Jan. 30). This bitter medicine would be helpful if Chrysler's problems were homegrown, but a majority of the blame must be borne by the Germans for a merger that never should have taken place.

Before the merger, Chrysler was the most successful of the Big Three automakers. Chrysler management was lauded perennially as the best in the industry, profit per vehicle was among the highest in the world, and a cash cushion of $9 billion sagely had been amassed to help Chrysler through the next inevitable downturn. The company was in no need of fixing.

The bogus "merger of equals" did not advance solid business goals so much as Daimler-Benz CEO Juergen Schrempp's empire building. Serving entirely different market segments, Mercedes and Chrysler cannot share parts or dealerships. Speaking different languages on different continents, the two companies cannot even share back-office operations.

Distractions and resentments from the deceitful takeover led to an exodus of Chrysler's best and brightest managers and a string of poor production and marketing decisions. To make matters worse, Mr. Schrempp frittered away Chrysler's cash cushion, adding money-losing Hyundai and Mitsubishi Motors to his domain.

The very people whose toil fueled Chrysler's dramatic resurgence in the 1990s are being made to bear the cost of Mr. Schrempp's hubris, which will just further weaken morale and thin the ranks of competent managers.

Only one layoff, in Stuttgart, Germany, is needed to reverse Chrysler's fortunes.

KARL VON SCHRILTZ

Washington

U.S. should take 'holistic' approach to defense

In his Feb. 5 letter to the editor, "Missile defense not a security cure-all," William Smith hits a number of excellent points but misses the essential one.

Though definitely not a cure-all, missile defense must be considered in terms of its contributions to an integrated strategy of homeland defense. Mr. Smith points out that a number of higher probability threats exist, such as the smuggling in of biological weapons, that missile defense alone can't address. (Perhaps even more likely is an information-based attack aimed at disrupting essential infrastructure, the enormous consequences of which we can glimpse in the current power shortage on the West Coast.) While this is true, we must avoid the trap of considering "infiltration" attacks and ICBM attacks to be mutually exclusive, because the consequences of both are unacceptable. A deliberate, but finite, analysis is needed that considers the full range of threats, from kinetic through information-based, and examines both the probability and the consequences of each. This prioritization can then serve as the foundation for an objective analysis of potential solutions, resulting in an approach incorporating optimal and synergistic combinations of systems that deals most effectively and affordably with the identified threats.

Technologies supporting a wide variety of missile defense systems exist, but that doesn't mean fielding any of them would be easy or inexpensive. Systems already exist to counter short-range missiles and artillery shells, but they're not implemented in the context of homeland defense. I believe the best missile defense system will be a layered integration of air, surface-subsurface and space capabilities that takes advantage of each medium's unique defensive qualities. Many of these capabilities exist separately, and the technologies to integrate them and fill the remaining gaps are largely within reach.

A "holistic" approach to homeland defense would involve not only the Department of Defense and the intelligence community, but most of the other executive department members as well, notably the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Such a perspective also could lead to a reassessment of the executive branch's departmental structure, relationships and alignment of functions, some of which remain from the Cold War and earlier.

Mr. Smith's point on the need for accurate intelligence is excellent. The intelligence architecture must be relevant to the full spectrum of threats we face now and those that are emerging. Only in the context of an integrated strategy for homeland defense one that considers all threats to our society can intelligence make the critical, strategic difference it has in the past. In the absence of options to respond, the very best intelligence only makes us well-informed targets.

With such a diversity of potential threats, career naysayers have maintained we are incapable of developing a system capable of dealing with them all. Their typical recommendation has been inaction. Rather than ignore all varieties of threats, we should deal with what is currently achievable and thus limit our potential adversaries' options. An integrated approach to homeland defense will provide the basis on which to make informed and sound decisions.

DAVID P. BULLOCK

Ashburn, Va.

NAACP put on

Thanks you for your Feb. 6 story "NAACP tax status questioned." I have looked at the web sites of over 20 U.S. newspapers, and yours is the only one following this story.

Please continue your investigations in this matter; America has the right to learn the facts. It is obvious to the most casual observer that contrary to its charter of advancing the rights of African Americans, the NAACP is an organization that is up to its eyebrows in efforts to unduly influence the political process.

Keep up the good work.

DALE R. SMITH

Eudora, Kan.

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