- The Washington Times - Thursday, November 13, 2003

Clark’s conclusions weak

Gary Anderson, in his review of Democratic presidential wannabe Wesley Clark’s book “Winning Modern Wars,” summarizes the erstwhile Army general’s view of national security strategy (“A campaign primer,” Op-Ed, Tuesday). Mr. Clark makes three key points, all of which are so obvious as to be almost embarrassing.

The first, that we need to be more inclusive in our approach to international affairs, is valid, but raises troubling questions: Is he suggesting that we make ourselves hostage to a Europe too enervated even to field a capable fighting force? Should we give the French a veto over American flexibility? Should our actions in defense of our homeland be subject to U.N. prior restraint? His second point, that we need to make better use of international institutions such as the United Nations, provokes the same set of questions, only more so. The United Nations, where tyrants and dictators get to cavort on a world stage, is a farce and a misnomer. The third point, that we need to modernize the armed forces, is simply too simple for comment.

If this is the best Mr. Clark has to offer, Republicans have little to fear.



Clean waters in the Chesapeake?

Chesapeake Bay Foundation President William C. Baker will never admit that the health of the Chesapeake Bay is improving, especially because the millions of tax dollars that are spent annually to clean it also help keep the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and other environmental groups in existence (” ‘State of Bay’ slid, study finds,” Metropolitan, Wednesday).

Moreover, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation producing the “State of the Bay” report is like the fox guarding the henhouse. Instead of spending so much time watchdogging the Bay, perhaps the foundation should watchdog itself to ascertain why farmers continually fear and mistrust environmental organizations that want to run their farms out of business from the neighborhood Starbucks.



‘Let’s honor our living dead’

In an excellent Veterans Day Commentary column (“The essential veteran’s vision,” Tuesday), Gary M. Galles correctly concludes that America’s commemorations of the valor our men and women have shown while risking their lives in military service are truly unique because of the “vision” for which Americans have fought: “to create and defend … what Abraham Lincoln called ‘a new nation conceived in liberty.’ ”

Unfortunately, many of our prisoners of war and those who aremissinginaction (POW/MIAs) are still not at liberty to enjoy this “nation conceived in liberty” that George Washington and other American patriots fought so hard to obtain. To “honor America’s vision along with those who served to protect it,” we must pay tribute and remember not only those veterans who survived and came home, but the “living dead” — POW/MIAs from so many wars. Let’s also not forget our POW families — brave survivors of so many battles they were forced to fight in Senate committee hearings simply to keep the memory of their loved ones alive and to continue the search-and-rescue missions in the fields of Vietnam, Laos and Russia.

Unbelievably, sometime during the centuries since Washington uttered his famous words, this vision of “liberty worth fighting for” seems to have faded into obscurity. Instead, we Americans have allowed ourselves to forget those who fought for us and are still held against their will by foreign rulers in distant lands.

Our illustrious senators, in particular those who presided over and sat on the Senate Select Committee on POW/MIA Affairs hearings from 1991 through 1993, completely ignored sworn testimony by witness after witness recounting numerous sightings of Caucasian prisoners being transported from farm to farm among Asian captives, as well as voluminous documentation, brushing aside heart-rending pleas by aggrieved POW families seeking answers about loved ones missing in action from World War II and the Vietnam and Korean wars. Despite horrendous accounts of torture told by POWs who, having miraculously survived the camps, had returned home, our sage solons had the gall to mock the poignant cries for help our POW families laid at their feet, preferring — for political expediency — to hide behind the myth that “there are no live prisoners left from the wars.”

Incredibly, this myth lives on, while the vision of “liberty worth fighting for” fades.

We can only hope that the resurgence of interest in the plight of our prisoners of war during this Gulf war finally will break the chain of obstructionist inaction created by design in the aftermath of the Vietnam War. It is long past time to recapture the vision of “liberty for all.”

Let’s honor our living dead and bring home the unsung heroes we left behind in foreign lands — the brave missing men who fought so we may have freedom in a “new nation conceived in liberty.”


Palm Beach, Fla.

Say no to sanctions

The Senate is backing sanctions against Syria (“Senate votes for sanctions against Syria,” Nation, Wednesday). Sanctions are never an appropriate response and should not be used to impose American values on foreign peoples or governments or to take the place of genuine negotiations or diplomacy.

Sanctions are, in fact, a form of violence. They hurt the citizens, rather than the government, of any targeted nation.

Our sanctions in Iraq were responsible for the deaths of a multitude of children. In Cuba, sanctionsonlyreinforce American hostility and serve the Castro government’s purposes. They don’t have the intended consequences and they cause real damage and harm to the people.

Actions that target the leadership or organizations could be an appropriate response, but never should any nation, including ours, impose sanctions that are designed to make life more difficult for those whose lives are difficult enough already.


Buena Vista, Pa.

Cable and competition

I must strongly disagree with James H. Quello’s conclusion (“Regulating cable services,” Op-Ed, Wednesday) that cable TV rates have not become excessive.

If one subscribes to “basic cable” services, as I do, he does not benefit from any of the gains in signal-transmission technology that make cable operators grow. He is receiving the same service and quality that was delivered seven years ago — at double the price.

If one accepts the claim of the cable operators that the cost of financing their capital-intensive equipment networks is a dominant constituent of their cost structures, the rate increases become even more outrageous. The capital markets of the past several years have allowed every highly leveraged business in the country to reduce costs dramatically through refinancing of long-term debt.

One must assume that cable operators’ managers have enjoyed the same refinancing opportunities as those in other capital-intensive businesses. In this context, the annual increases in all of our cable bills seem not just high, but confiscatory. Thank goodness for the competitive influence of the satellite TV service providers.


Santa Maria, Calif.

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