- The Washington Times - Monday, May 12, 2003

It is hypocritical of Sen. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat, to call President Bush’s landing on an aircraft carrier “flamboyant showmanship” (“Byrd criticizes Bush’s carrier visit,” Nation, Wednesday). After all, this is from the senator who insists that just about every tree planted, road paved or building erected in his home state — financed with federal funds — be named after him. Perhaps Mr. Byrd is only upset that Mr. Bush did not land on the USS Robert C. Byrd.

There are only two presidents who could have been justified to land on the deck of an aircraft carrier. Both of them are former fighter pilots, and both of them are named “Bush.” This was no Michael-Dukakis-riding-in-a-tank incident.

In fact, it was similarly apropos for a former astronaut to travel again into space after many long years on the ground. I don’t remember hearing any complaints from Democrats when Sen. John Glenn rode on the space shuttle in 1998. To many Americans, these attacks on Mr. Bush sound like pure partisan sour grapes.



Sen. Robert C. Byrd hasn’t raised one important point: Doesn’t anyone wonder why the first President Bush — a veteran Navy combat pilot with distinguished service in World War II — didn’t do a fly-in to congratulate troops after the first Gulf War? Perhaps it is because he didn’t have to concoct a military image.

On the other hand, the current President Bush avoided the big war of his youth. He was like many of the college students whom I knew during the Vietnam War who schemed to get into the National Guard as a means of avoiding the draft and potentially facing combat. Indeed, Mr. Bush succeeded in getting his name placed on the top of a highly vied-for list because he had the right connections — something most of his contemporaries did not. And reports show that during his hitch in the Texas Air National Guard, Mr. Bush did not show up for duty for an entire year (i.e., he was absent without leave).

I am tremendously proud of our troops and the wonderful job that they did, but the president could easily have helicoptered in to the ship wearing a plain suit, just like several of his predecessors. That’s what he would have done had his goal been to simply honor the troops instead of staging a PR stunt.



I find it interesting that White House spokesman Ari Fleischer admitted that President Bush could have flown onto the aircraft carrier by helicopter but landed in a fighter jet instead because it “would allow him to see an aircraft landing the same way that the pilots saw an aircraft landing. He wanted to see it as realistically as possible.”

Perhaps if he did not avoid serving his country in the regular military during the Vietnam War, he could have seen what it was like in combat conditions — like his father. Once again, this unnecessary landing shows that Mr. Bush is prone to macho role-playing, be it fighter pilot or cowboy.


Grand Rapids, Mich.

So some Democrats are complaining that it cost over $1 million for President Bush to travel to the USS Abraham Lincoln. A simple question for them is: How much would it have cost to visit an Army base, instead? What about the cost of all the cargo planes to carry all the vehicles for the president and his entourage? What about the disruption to an open post? Visiting the Lincoln cost less, and was less disruptive, than visiting any Army base.

It seems to me (and I might be wrong about this) that many congressional Democrats are complaining about the president’s trip because they really don’t have any other issues of their own — not to mention the jealousy that one of their own could not do the same thing.



Toward a united Cyprus

I wish to comment upon the letter of a Turkish Cypriot, Osman Ertug, about the situation in Cyprus (“Cyprus clarification,” Thursday). Unfortunately, his attitude is quite typical of representatives of the breakaway Turkish regime in occupied northern Cyprus.

The fact is that the 1974 military occupation of Cyprus by Turkey was an invasion of a small defenseless country, and the Turkish side cannot hide this fact, whatever pretext they think they had to intervene in Cyprus.

Yes, it is true that certain Greek nationalists in Cyprus were looking for enosis (“union”) with Greece, which was wrong, but that did not justify Turkey’s brutal military intervention and subsequent occupation, which continues to this day. The excuse that the Turks regularly spin out was that they were acting legally, exercising their rights under the 1960 Treaty of Guarantee to intervene. However, the purpose of that treaty was to maintain and protect the independence and sovereignty of Cyprus, something that the Turkish invasion and subsequent occupation destroyed.

Mr. Ertug is displaying typical paranoia by maintaining that the Greek Cypriot side still wishes to unite with Greece. For most Greek Cypriots, that notion is dead and buried. Yes, we have a close link with Greece, which is only to be expected, but we do not wish to unite with Greece. We are happy to be an independent nation (albeit only partially independent at the moment).

It is about time that people such as Mr. Ertug forget all the wrongdoings of the past and move onward so that Cyrpus can look forward to a better future. The majority of Cypriots want unification and to live in peace and coexistence. We should not be restricted by the continuing occupation of Cyprus by Turkey, which is condemned throughout the world. Turkey needs to start respecting international law.

The recent crossings between Turkish-controlled Cyprus and the rest of the island are very encouraging, and it has been clearly shown that Greek and Turkish Cypriots can get along well with one another. This attitude should be encouraged and nurtured. Old grievances, such as those voiced by Mr. Ertug, should not be allowed to prejudice events on the island as we look to finally reunite and heal the wounds in our country.


British subject of Greek Cypriot descent


U.S. history full of immigrant soldiers and seamen

The Chicken Littles who are decrying efforts to speed citizenship to immigrants who serve in the U.S. armed forces are building a mountain out of a molehill (“No to immigrant military,” Letters, Thursday).

Foreign-born individuals have been members of the U.S. armed forces since the founding of our republic. One need only read their history or review the roles of Medal of Honor recipients since the Civil War to realize this. But I don’t need to read a book to know this.

My own grandfather was born in Italy but earned his citizenship after service in the Navy during World War I. Every one of his sons and grandsons has also served.

Speeding citizenship to immigrants who serve in our armed forces will not create a military of mercenaries, nor will it provide a surreptitious bed for terrorists to hide out, as letter writer Dana Garcia of the People’s Republic of Berkeley suggests. What have we had, one subversive out of 1.3 million personnel? Anti-immigration forces would do better to attack immigrants who enter the country illegally or try to live on the public dole versus those who try to assimilate into our society and make a better life for themselves and their families.

What bears asking is why, in our smaller, all-volunteer force of today, is there room in the ranks for immigrants at all? Is it because the “patriotic” native-born Americans forecasting the falling of the sky have opted not to serve themselves? Perhaps veteran status should be a litmus test for entering this debate.


Navy (retired)


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