- The Washington Times - Wednesday, January 2, 2002

Editorial cites wrong 'George' as VMI graduate

In your editorial about the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), you refer to Gen. George S. Patton Jr. as a VMI graduate ("ACLU in the foxholes," Dec. 30). Gen. Patton attended VMI for one year and then received a senatorial appointment to West Point. He is a distinguished graduate of West Point, Class of 1909.
The Patton family has many distinguished graduates from VMI. Perhaps, however, you mixed up your Georges. One of VMI's most illustrious graduates is Gen. George C. Marshall,an outstanding World War II general and author of the Marshall Plan, which rebuilt Europe after the war.
VMI's record of service to our nation is outstanding in its own right. VMI deserves our prayers as it battles the ACLU.

JIM WALLWOR
Richmond

Pakistan as bogeyman

While Mohana Kher fails to make a cogent argument identifying the root causes of terrorism in India, she artfully goes on using Pakistan as a bogeyman, asserting that the "'swamp' will not be drained until Pakistan gives up terrorism" ("'Swamp' not fully drained until Pakistan gives up terrorism," Letters, Dec. 31). Realistically, the "swamp" can never be drained until all residual political problems of self-determination and autonomy are settled peacefully around the world. Canada and Britain struggled with similar issues and found viable political solutions. India, however, has chosen to deal with Kashmiri anxieties in the most repressive and brazen way.
India's concern for terrorism is legitimate, and the recent assault on its parliament was reprehensible. Blaming Pakistan for the recent attack and equating the movement for autonomy in Kashmir with "terrorism," however, isn't going to help New Delhi address the issues of self-determination or terrorism. Political repression and institutional decay in Kashmir have only accelerated the struggle of disenchanted Kashmiris for autonomy, something which India still fails to realize. Without a meaningful resolution to the perennial dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, relations between Islamabad and New Delhi will stay tense, and peace on the subcontinent will remain a distance dream.

ASIM L. ALI
Lake Ridge, Va.

Defense Department responsible for military site cleanup

In his Dec. 28 Op-Ed column comparing the Spring Valley and Times Beach, Mo., environmental cleanup projects, "Spring Valley blues," Syd Gernstein bases his point on inaccurate information about the Spring Valley project. Given the concerns of the community and the complexity of this project, it is important to provide a more complete picture for your readers.
Spring Valley is a former military site. As such, its cleanup is the responsibility of the Department of Defense, not the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Defense Department uses the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to clean up former military sites. The EPA and the D.C. Department of Health are active partners with the Corps in the Spring Valley project, but the responsibility for that work and for the decisions made lie with the Corps' Baltimore District engineer, in whose district Spring Valley lies. This has been true since the Corps first became involved at the site in February 1993.
Furthermore, we have used chemical "moon suits," as Mr. Gernstein calls them, and we have ordered evacuations of Spring Valley households at certain times and certain places during the course of the project. We also have used protective metal structures over suspected burial locations and many other safety precautions appropriate to such a project. These decisions were not based on the affluence of the residents, but on ensuring their safety and the safety of our workers.
This type of long-after-the-fact criticism of decisions that were made with the best information available at the time is common with long-term projects. In the past 20 years, our knowledge of how to protect people from chemical hazards has increased greatly. In our commitment to protecting human health and the environment, we apply that knowledge as we address the hazards associated with past Defense Department activities in Spring Valley.

MAJ. MICHAEL D. PELOQUIN
Deputy district engineer for Spring Valley
Baltimore District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Baltimore

Pakistan as bogeyman

While Mohana Kher fails to make a cogent argument identifying the root causes of terrorism in India, she artfully goes on using Pakistan as a bogeyman, asserting that the "'swamp' will not be drained until Pakistan gives up terrorism" ("'Swamp' not fully drained until Pakistan gives up terrorism," Letters, Dec. 31). Realistically, the "swamp" can never be drained until all residual political problems of self-determination and autonomy are settled peacefully around the world. Canada and Britain struggled with similar issues and found viable political solutions. India, however, has chosen to deal with Kashmiri anxieties in the most repressive and brazen way.
India's concern for terrorism is legitimate, and the recent assault on its parliament was reprehensible. Blaming Pakistan for the recent attack and equating the movement for autonomy in Kashmir with "terrorism," however, isn't going to help New Delhi address the issues of self-determination or terrorism. Political repression and institutional decay in Kashmir have only accelerated the struggle of disenchanted Kashmiris for autonomy, something which India still fails to realize. Without a meaningful resolution to the perennial dispute between India and Pakistan over Kashmir, relations between Islamabad and New Delhi will stay tense, and peace on the subcontinent will remain a distance dream.

ASIM L. ALI
Lake Ridge, Va.

Environmentalists hurt rural communities the most

Your recent coverage of the lynx hair hoax has been much appreciated by the people of rural American forest communities. However, it is very irritating that the Dec. 30 article "Plan to clarify rules ties up forest chief" characterizes the conflict over forest policy as solely between the environmental industry and the timber industry.
The truth is that this also is a huge conflict between a wealthy, rather elitist environmental industry and impoverished Indian and non-Indian rural communities. The environmental industry, through the all-too-understated influence of its vast wealth, has imposed socioeconomically devastating policies upon these rural communities. To portray the conflict as merely between the environmental industry and the timber industry does rural America a great disservice, perpetuating the public's misunderstanding of the situation, as the environmental industry intends.
In the past decade, rural American forest communities have suffered such extensive economic and social damage that their children can no longer look forward to raising families in the communities in which they were raised. Why? Because there are no jobs. The environmental industry may purport to curtail the activities of international industrial corporations. In truth, however, it has lobbied and litigated so that regulations have become so restrictive, punitive and cost-prohibitive that small businesses in rural America have been destroyed incrementally.
The control over forest policy exerted by the environmental industry has not only affected small timber businesses but restricted rural families' ability to gather firewood to heat their homes, graze their livestock and gather wild foods to supplement their diets and incomes. It also has affected subsistence hunting by Indian and non-Indian rural families, limited access to sites associated with American Indian religion and affected the ability of the elderly and handicapped to enjoy these lands.
Contrary to the impression the environmental industry promotes to the urban majority, the sector of society most dependent upon our forests is not made up of corporate cattle and timber fat cats, but low- to barely medium-income rural families who have cared tremendously for the condition of these forests for many generations.
Economic schemes that have been promoted even in federal land-management documents in the past decade which claim that these families' livelihoods can be replaced readily by electronic commerce, tourism and the retirement industry are not based in the reality of rural economics and have failed miserably to provide the relief rural American forest communities desperately need.
Please do rural America the service of reporting on the incremental socioeconomic extirpation it is experiencing rather than portraying these forest issues as merely a conflict between the environmental industry and big timber corporations.

DIANA WHITE HORSE CAPP
Curlew, Wash.

Diana White Horse Capp is adjunct fellow for the Center for the Defense of Free Enterprise and editor of the Natural Resource Justice Alert.



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