- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 15, 2001

Military progress sometimes means sacrifice

Robert Charles' March 13 Commentary column, "The Osprey and aviation history," provided the most eloquent argument yet for why the Marine Corps and the nation must remain committed to the technology represented by the MV-22.

Revolutionary technology challenges the human mind and spirit, and sometimes tragedy is unavoidable. But without men and women brave enough to accept those challenges, we never would progress.

PHILLIP THOMPSON

Senior fellow

The Lexington Institute

Arlington

McCain campaign-finance bill is assault on 'political marketplace'

Robert Charles' March 13 Commentary column, "The Osprey and aviation history," provided the most eloquent argument yet for why the Marine Corps and the nation must remain committed to the technology represented by the MV-22.

Revolutionary technology challenges the human mind and spirit, and sometimes tragedy is unavoidable. But without men and women brave enough to accept those challenges, we never would progress.

PHILLIP THOMPSON

Senior fellow

The Lexington Institute

Arlington

Long-term land plan takes no position on D.C. hospital, jail

Your March 1 article "Land plans omit hospital, jail in District" incorrectly implies that the National Capital Planning Commission's Extending the Legacy Plan proposes to eliminate D.C. General Hospital. The plan takes no position on the future of the hospital or the D.C. Jail. It is a broad vision plan that looks ahead 50 to 100 years; it is a flexible framework that can accommodate a variety of possibilities.

The Legacy Plan was adopted in 1997 following extensive involvement with the public in all affected areas of the city and in close coordination with the District government under then-Mayor Marion Barry. In fact, we are partners in Mayor Anthony A.Williams' major planning effort, the Anacostia Waterfront Initiative, which will bring people together to develop a vision for the future of the waterfront. It is in the context of this kind of planning where proposals about institutions such as the hospital belong.

The future the Legacy Plan envisions for this area of the city is oriented toward the river and seeks to promote enjoyment of this valuable natural resource. The plan depicts possible commercial, residential and institutional development, and its proposals are designed to accommodate a wide range of uses according to the needs of present and future generations.

WILLIAM R. LAWSON

Acting executive director

National Capital Planning Commission

Washington

NATO inclusion of Baltic states could be pound of cure for Europe

The Feb. 2 report "Officials from 9 nations on Hill to lobby for NATO entry" lists reasons why several Central and Eastern European countries are eager to join NATO. However, it leaves out the most important reason, namely that those countries feel a great deal of urgency to be included in NATO. A look at the map shows why: The Baltic states on Russia's western border are vulnerable to Russian aggression and manipulation. It is not surprising that Russia has reacted vehemently against the prospect of NATO expansion to include Baltic states.

Every time the Russian leadership declares that Russia has no offensive intentions against the Baltic states, it adds a caveat to the effect that should the Baltic states decide to join Russia voluntarily, such a scenario would not constitute Russian aggression.

What such a "voluntary decision" would look like was revealed last November, when former Russian ambassador to Estonia Aleksei Gluhhov stated that the Baltic states had voluntarily joined the Soviet Union in 1940. In other words, we should forget the secret protocols of the infamous German-Soviet Nonaggression Pact of 1939, which divided the whole of Eastern Europe into German and Soviet spheres of influence.

One can argue that Russia has changed since the disintegration of the Soviet Union and that it is no longer the monstrous empire it once was. Unfortunately, events in Chechnya reveal that intimidation and deceit still play a part in Russian politics.

There is one more valid reason why the Baltic states should be admitted into NATO at the next summit, in October 2002. If NATO's goal is to maintain a secure Europe, it should admit Baltic states as soon as possible and not wait until Russia threatens to pull them into its orbit.

CAMILLA KUUS

Washington

Bush surprises them all, despite lack of 'gravitas'

When Richard B. Cheney joined the Republican presidential ticket last summer, the press suggested that he, not George W. Bush, should be at the top of the ticket. As the campaign got serious after Labor Day, the pundits and the poll respondents doubted Mr. Bush's qualifications. Everyone from NBC's Tim Russert to Jeff Greenfield at CNN to Sam Donaldson and Cokie Roberts at ABC and Democratic politicians such as House Minority Leader Richard Gephardt and Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle questioned whether Mr. Bush had the intellectual strength to be president. Coincidentally, they all used the same word for what they thought he lacked: gravitas.

Now we find ourselves in the second month of the Bush presidency. In the first two months of President Clinton's first term, he was dealing with the revelation that his nominee for attorney general, Zoe Baird, had hired an illegal alien as a nanny; he imposed the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on the military; and he was trying to find a way to get his staff past the mandatory drug tests. In contrast, Mr. Bush has had one of the most successful starts of any president in the past 50 years. He begins and concludes meetings on time, he has met successfully with dozens of members of Congress, he is promoting the same agenda he promised during the campaign, and he just delivered what everyone agrees was an impressive speech to Congress promoting his economic plan. Last summer, the Democrats called his tax cut plan a "risky scheme." Today, even Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan believes a tax cut is wise. Nobody, but nobody, is questioning his intelligence.

Who needs "gravitas"? Respectability, honor, good sense and good judgment have returned to the White House.

JOHN J. THORNTON

Tampa


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