- The Washington Times - Friday, March 23, 2001

Battleship towing puts lives at risk

I was pleased to see Oliver North blast the towing of the reserve battleship USS Iowa from Rhode Island to California ("Military's self-inflicted scars," March 18).

The situation, however, is even worse than what my old friend Mr. North describes. The tow cost taxpayers millions of dollars and disregarded the law, placing an essential mobilization asset at risk. All this at the behest of Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, who for political reasons wants the ship to become a tourist attraction in San Francisco.

Unconscionably, Navy officials were all too ready to comply, justifying themselves with Mrs. Boxer's two nonbinding congressional actions. The ship is being berthed at a quasi-naval installation near San Francisco. Due to California's power problems, a reliable power source will not likely be available with which to operate systems to preserve the Iowa. Keeping the ship in a place where it cannot be maintained violates Public Law 104-106, which requires that the Navy keep reserve ships ready for active service.

Two reserve battleships, USS Iowa and USS Wisconsin, are for the foreseeable future the Navy's only source of effective, accurate, instant, all-weather, tactical, surface fire support, which is indispensable for supporting our troops in coastal conflicts. It is most disturbing that the Navy ignores this fact.

The Kosovo conflict demonstrated that bad weather can wipe out air support. That is why Arizona Rep. Bob Stump, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has called for reactivating these two ships "as soon as possible" to correct the "dangerous" lack of sufficient naval surface fire support.

Last March, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James L. Jones testified that Marines "have been at considerable risk" since the last battleships were retired. An absence of battleships could needlessly cost countless American lives.


Executive Director

U.S. Naval Fire Support Association


William L. Stearman was a member of the White House National Security Council staff from 1971-76 and 1981-93.

No Dodd defection from McCain-Feingold bill

I am writing to take strong exception to Joseph Perkins' March 20 Commentary column, "Reform hypocrisy."

In the piece, the writer erroneously says Sen. Chris Dodd has "defected" from the McCain-Feingold bill for campaign finance reform. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Mr. Dodd was one of the earliest supporters of campaign finance reform initiatives and, in fact, continues to be a strong supporter of Sens. John McCain and Russell Feingold's legislation.


Communications director

Office of Sen. Chris Dodd


Israel is all take, no give with United States

As I read your article on Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to Washington, I was struck by how one-sided the United States' relationship with Israel has become ("Sharon assured of U.S. support for Israel," March 20).

For instance, you describe the "ringing support for Israel from the Bush administration," but in the same line, you report that Mr. Sharon rejects Secretary of State Colin Powells' requests to ease Israeli pressure on Palestinians. It appears that Israel takes and takes but will give nothing in return. Indeed, your article mentions several requests that Mr. Sharon refuses.

Isn't it about time we ask for something in return for our "ringing support," perhaps an end to the building of illegal settlements in the West Bank and Gaza?



Reader sees similarities between NATO and Nazi dealings in Balkans

March 24 marks the second anniversary of the start of the first full-blown experiment in humanitarian intervention. This occasion calls for a solemn commemoration, given that NATO's aerial onslaught on Yugoslavia escalated what had been a nasty little insurrectionary war into one humanitarian disaster after another. The latest is unfolding in neighboring Macedonia ("NATO's dilemma," March 21).

Three days later, on March 27, Serbs will commemorate the 60th anniversary of the Serb-dominated military coup that deposed the pro-Nazi Regent Prince Paul for agreeing to join the Axis Tripartite Pact. The anti-fascist military's rejection of the Nazis received great acclaim from Belgraders, and Winston Churchill piped in with, "Early this morning, the Yugoslav nation found its soul." It was in reality the Serb soul, hence Adolf Hitler's prompt blitzing of Belgrade. For welcoming the Wehrmacht with open arms, Zagreb was made the capital of a puppet Croatian state, within whose borders genocide of the Serbs, Jews and Gypsies ensued.

German radio announced on April 17, 1941, that the Yugoslav state was "in dissolution" and that its reorganization in which the Serbs would have no say would be taken by the Axis. Has anything changed?


Twickenham, United Kingdom

Two sides to Virginia's Civil War heritage

Thank you for the reasonable and balanced story about Gov. James S. Gilmore replacing his Confederate History Month proclamation with one commemorating both sides in the Civil War. However, the headline "Gilmore surrenders Virginia's heritage" unfairly characterizes the governor's proclamation (March 21).

As a native of Virginia and a resident of Massachusetts, I welcome Mr. Gilmore's recognition of Sgt. William H. Carney of the 54th Massachusetts Volunteers. The unit's memorial adorns Beacon Hill, in front of the Massachusetts State House. For next year, may I suggest that Mr. Gilmore go a little further and extend his recognition to other distinguished Virginians who placed their duty to their country above all else for example, Union General in Chief Winfield Scott, the author of the Anaconda Plan blockade strategy, and Gen. George H. Thomas, the Rock of Chickamauga.

Together with Sgt. Carney, would these heroes not make splendid additions to Monument Avenue in Richmond? This would demonstrate that we honor the brave and mourn the dead of both sides of the war. Surely, even the combustible Brag Bowling, Virginia chapter leader of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, could not object to this sentiment. As for the rest of us, we can thank God that we remain one nation.


Wakefield, Mass.

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