- The Washington Times - Friday, March 22, 2002

Letters to the Editor

Land mines have no place in modern militaries

Commentary contributor Ernest W. Lefever states that anti-personnel land mines are not the problem and "their impact depends on how they are used" ("Land mine myopia," March 15). He furthermore contends that the United States should not join the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty because the agreement cannot have "a significant impact on the states that sign" it.
Mr. Lefever is wrong. For the 15,000 to 20,000 people each year, mostly civilians, who are maimed or killed by land mines, the tragic flaw of the weapon is inherent in its design as much as in its use. Anti-personnel mines cannot tell the difference between a combatant and a child, let alone friend or foe. Because of their low cost and the relative ease with which they are deployed, these outmoded weapons remain in the ground of more than 80 countries for decades after cease-fires are signed.
Because 142 of the world's nations have joined the 1997 Mine Ban Treaty, use of the weapon has decreased significantly and the number of mine-producing nations has shrunk from 54 to 14. Trade of the weapon has virtually evaporated. Most promising, global rates of mine casualties have decreased significantly since the Mine Ban Treaty entered into force.
The humanitarian benefit of this treaty is undeniable. However, it also protects U.S. troops. I have seen firsthand what our own land mines do to our servicemen. For this reason, I was one of eight senior retired U.S. commanders who wrote last year to President Bush in support of the mine ban. Our troops already have alternative technologies, training and tactics that suitably replace this militarily failed device. In the final analysis, mine use has no place in modern militaries, especially our own.

DAVE PALMER
Belton, Texas

Retired Lt. Gen. Dave Palmer is former superintendent of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point and author of "Summons of the Trumpet."



When lawyers take what they would give

I want to applaud Rep. F. James Sensenbrenner Jr., Wisconsin Republican, for supporting the Class Action Fairness Act of 2002 ("Putting consumers ahead of windfalls," Commentary, March 13). Frivolous lawsuits and abusive class actions haunt millions of Americans and plague our state courts. The practice of some greedy personal-injury lawyers filing claims in locales notorious for shelling out millions of dollars in settlements must be stopped.
Lawsuit abuse threatens to unravel the core of the American economy. Small businesses simply cannot protect themselves from certain personal-injury lawyers hoping to hit the million-dollar jackpot. One multimillion-dollar lawsuit can bankrupt a company, forcing it to close its doors forever.
To defend the American dream, the Senate must act soon, following suit with the House of Representatives, so that certain greedy personal-injury lawyers no longer pillage our small businesses and financially damage our economy.

NANCY H. HILL
Executive director
Maryland Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse
Annapolis



Science that sounds more like faith

The March 18 letter to the editor by Nancy Karlen, "Evolution is based on science," typifies a number of the widely held misconceptions concerning both Darwinism and science in general.
First of all, it is a commonly held misconception that mere adaptation, such as the adaptation of bacteria to antibiotics, demonstrates evolution. This is not so. All living creatures are able to adapt to their environment, but in no such case do they change their genetic structure as evolution proposes.
It also is widely believed that the scientific method of experimentation to prove a hypothesis is the hallmark of every field of science. This is true for "hard" sciences such as chemistry and physics, but other fields of study, the so-called "soft" sciences, are not amenable to experimentation.
Among the soft sciences are geology, archaeology, paleontology, historical anthropology, etc., the sciences most often associated with investigations into evolution. Progress is made by means of uncovering, examining and interpreting the historical record, which by its very nature is not repeatable. The data in these sciences do not simply speak for themselves; they can be interpreted any number of ways. Thus, the interpretive stand that the scientist takes initially is crucial to the outcome.
A scientist who has been taught Darwinism throughout school and assumed it throughout his or her career will find it difficult to interpret the data with anything other than an evolutionary mind-set, the myth of scientific objectivity notwithstanding.
Contrary to Ms. Karlen's claim, the reason intelligent design has not gained much popularity is not lack of experimentation. By its very nature, the evidence of intelligent design precludes experimentation because it demonstrates that complex organs could not result from natural processes.
Evolutionists have largely ignored this evidence precisely because they have no answer to it. The best reply given so far is the expressed belief of one leading evolutionist that somehow evolution will find a way to explain it. This is science? Sounds more like faith to me.
The case for intelligent design has been made very ably by Michael Behe in his book "Darwin's Black Box." The evidence is considerable and can stand on its own. Presenting this evidence in the schools can only promote the cause of unbiased science and should be allowed to proceed.

THOMAS KRYST
Silver Spring



Byrd shuns amnesty folly

Though I do not always agree with Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, he is quite right to oppose the extension of Section 245(i), which supporters originally intended to sneak through the House on a voice vote ("Byrd delays Bush bid for amnesty," March 20). Only the efforts of Rep. Tom Tancredo, Colorado Republican and chairman of the Congressional Immigration Reform Caucus, forced a recorded vote.
Even with only a few days' notice, grass-roots immigration reform advocates from all over the country joined Numbers USA and other pro-reform groups in sending thousands of faxes, phone calls and e-mails to members' offices. The measure, lobbied heavily by the White House and intended as a gift to Mexican President Vicente Fox, passed by only one vote.
This is a lesson to both the White House and Congress not to ignore public opinion, which is heavily opposed to amnesty for the millions of illegal aliens in this country.

BYRON SLATER
San Diego


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