- The Washington Times - Thursday, June 27, 2002

A tank on every corner will not safeguard Israel

Monday's Commentary column by A.M. Rosenthal, "Confronting terror to survive," correctly identifies the dilemma facing the Israeli leadership in its quest to combat Palestinian terrorism and secure peace within Israel. Mr. Rosenthal appropriately underscores the State Department's gross miscalculation regarding the recognition of a "provisional" Palestinian state while Israel remains under attack. Such a move would ensure a continuation of hostilities, for it would reward the resistance while proving to the Palestinians that when negotiation fails to solidify tangible results, war can succeed.

However, the author's vision of an end-state to the conflict is unrealistic. Mr. Rosenthal foresees a cessation of the growth and power of Palestinian terrorist organizations after the Israeli acquisition of total military victory. Though this concept may sound rational in the abstract, on the ground, it never will be realized.

Israeli victory over Palestinian terrorism cannot be achieved in totality by force of arms alone. The application of military strength may yield significant tactical gains in the short term. However, the conversion of these achievements into strategic victories remains elusive. Without addressing the socioeconomic, political and territorial dimensions of this war, the Israelis are condemning themselves to the status quo.

Tank incursions into Ramallah will not take the cause away from the Palestinian fighters. The Israeli leadership needs to recognize that although it can confront Palestinian terror with strength, it can only defeat Palestinian terror with a multidimensional solution.


KURT FISCHMAN

Research assistant

National Defense Council Foundation

Alexandria , Va.

Railing about Amtrak

As debate over Amtrak's murky future continues ("Routes face closure as Amtrak waits for government bailout," Nation, Monday), one thing to bear in mind is that Amtrak is like the interstate highway system: The roads themselves make no money, yet they facilitate travel and business, which do. The highways receive very generous funding every year without the expectation of profit. Furthermore, news reports show that Germany spends more than $5 billion per year on its rail services and Japan more than $4 billion. If those countries, with economies smaller than ours, can afford to spend so much on rail service, certainly our government can find at least that much to spend on Amtrak.

A chief complaint against Amtrak is that it cannot compete with the airlines. Then again, Amtrak cannot lobby and contribute to political campaigns, which are two tactics the airlines use to great effect. Transportation options must be maintained, especially given the glaring vulnerability and obstinacy of the airlines.


DAVID W. TURNER

Petersburg, Va.


Unless our leaders in Washington take the bold, decisive action of throwing billions of taxpayer dollars down a rathole, we are facing the imminent demise of the stagecoach industry.

A future without stagecoaches seems unthinkable, but the possibility is very real unless we act now. Just think of the thousands of Americans whose livelihood depends on stagecoaches: drivers, trainers and manufacturers of buggy whips and wagon wheels. All voters, by the way.

We all have treasured memories of stagecoach travel, but far more than nostalgia makes our stagecoach industry vital. Without stagecoaches, more people would travel in environmentally unfriendly ways, thus dooming us to a future of global warming.

What must the Europeans think of us? Their state-run stagecoach systems and $3 per gallon gasoline have forced them to seriously curtail their wasteful freedom to travel. We all want to be more like Europe, by importing their "high speed" stagecoach technology, don't we? This would enable commuters to traverse the busy Yuma-Virginia City corridor in less than four days.

Sure, some of the stagecoach routes could be privatized profitably, but that would require the government to give up a little power and spend less of our money. That's downright unpatriotic. Act now, or we will be doomed to a future of Americans traveling where they want, when they want, as economically as possible.


JOHN COOK

Kenbridge, Va.

No whistleblower protection, no incentive to report abuse

I read with horror "Security bill bars blowing whistle" (National, Saturday), which details how the bill seeking to create a Homeland Security Department would exempt its employees from whistle-blower protection. This would create a strong disincentive to report abuse. I say this based on personal experience.

I discovered $100 million in fraudulent contracts within the National Missile Defense program, which I reported to my boss. I was fired eight days later. It was only after reporting the wrongdoing that I learned I was not protected by the Whistleblower Protection Act. The limited scope of the act undoubtedly has kept other employees from talking about fraud in the National Missile Defense program, where the annual budget is $3.2 billion. If the proposed Homeland Security Department, with an estimated budget of about $37 billion, also is exempted from the whistle-blower act, there will be much more abuse that will go unpunished because it will be unreported.


BIFF BAKER

Colorado Springs, Colo.

FAA thanks its lucky STARS

Ken Adelman's June 16 Commentary column on the Federal Aviation Administration's Standard Terminal Automation Replacement System (STARS) is alarming to the flying public and factually wrong in many aspects ("FAA wishing on fallen STARS").

STARS is the system of new computers, software and workstations our nation's air-traffic controllers will use to guide airplanes safely and efficiently in the terminal airspace around airports. The technological advance this improvement represents is equivalent to going from Pong to the Xbox.

Mr. Adelman accuses the FAA of blindly installing an air-traffic system "that may indeed fail, thereby putting airline passengers at an unacceptable risk." As FAA Administrator Jane F. Garvey wrote to the inspector general of the Department of Transportation earlier this month: "Let me be as direct as possible the FAA has not and will not deploy a system that is unsafe."

The FAA rigorously and thoroughly tests STARS and any other air-traffic system at each location before we use it continuously. The FAA and the union that represents our electronics technicians disagreed over whether STARS is ready to begin operation at Syracuse, N.Y. We invoked our right under the union contract to proceed with initial operation there. That is significantly different from Mr. Adelman's implication that we're blindly overriding contractual obligations and proceeding recklessly with STARS at more than 170 sites nationwide.

He also cites an anonymous "official" who stated that air-traffic controllers in El Paso, Texas, "had no confidence" in STARS. That's not what we hear from controllers in El Paso and the national leaders of their union. Did he call the controllers union?

Mr. Adelman calls on the Transportation Department's inspector general "to step up his audits and report to Congress." He appears unaware of the IG's June 3 report on STARS and the administrator's response of June 5, in which she stated: "We fundamentally disagree with your conclusions."

STARS is a fundamentally sound system that will dramatically increase the safety and efficiency of our air traffic system. The flying public deserves nothing less.


SCOTT BRENNER

Assistant administrator for public affairs

Federal Aviation Administration

Washington

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