- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 5, 2003

More than might

Tony Blankley’s French impresses, but his reasoning on war against terror is flawed. In his column “A bloody march to peace” (Op-Ed, Oct. 29), he praises President Bush’s approach in the war against terror and makes an argument for acting with force to defeat terrorism and not to feel weak in the eyes of coldblooded killers.

As he joins some Washington politicians and journalists in arguing that critics of Mr. Bush’s approach to fighting the war on terror are idealists, he himself falls into the trap of wishful thinking. The belief that the military path is the surest way to defeat terrorism is, indeed, wishful thinking for two reasons.

First, terrorism is fundamentally not about states, but about individuals and ideology. Though states can sponsor terrorist activities, only individuals can perpetrate them. This is why it is not enough to defeat state sponsors of terrorism, such as Iraq. In the long run, our goal must be to defeat terrorism by preventing the rise of a new generation of terrorists. Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld himself alluded to this in the memo to his advisers that was leaked to the press last month: “Does the U.S. need to fashion a broad, integrated plan to stop the next generation of terrorists? The U.S. is putting relatively little effort into a long-range plan, but we are putting a great deal of effort into trying to stop terrorists. The cost-benefit ratio is against us.”

The struggle against terror is more about winning minds than battles. Military power, however advanced, cannot do that. When he appeared on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday, Mr. Rumsfeld acknowledged that winning the war on terrorism is as much about the power of ideas as it is about military power.

This brings us to the second point: ideology. Modern radicalism-cum-terrorism is rooted in an ideology. Mr. Blankley, whose knowledge of history is to be commended, must remember how the United States won the ideological battle against the communist Soviet Union. While there was an enormous military effort to contain the communist threat, the “red scare” was defeated ideologically more than in any other way. The ideals of democratic accountability and capitalism, however imperfect, have unquestionably vanquished the hollow communist slogan of “dictatorship of the proletariat.”

This holds an important caveat for the fight against terror: An adversary whose strength lies in a perverted ideology has to be defeated ideologically. That way, the defeat will stick. Otherwise, no matter how many terrorists we kill pre-emptively and no matter how many weapons we intercept, unless our ideas are robust enough to conquer the ideology of radicalism, modern terrorism will flourish.


Research intern

Center for Nonproliferation Studies

Monterey Institute of International Studies


Supporting stay-at-home parents

While I agree with the premise of Alvin Williams’ Commentary column “Mom and dad foremost” (Saturday), I believe two important ways of supporting parents have been left out.

Of course, our society should strive to increase the amount of time parents spend with their children in order to counteract all the negative influences in the media and in our culture, which Mr. Williams cites. However, helping just parents who work outside the home is not the only way to approach this problem.

Yes, we should try to help single parents receive all the child support they are due. Of course, we also want to help dual-income parents who both have to work to make ends meet, not simply to enjoy a higher standard of living.

I agree with the means listed in the article to reduce the time burden on couples in which both parents work, including flex-time, telecommuting and on-the-job day care. (I question, though, how much extra time the latter would provide for the parent to spend with the child.)

What I do not agree with is the frequent lack of encouragement and support given to parents who can and choose to raise their own children full time. Quite often, single-wage-earner families incur financial sacrifices in order for one parent to stay home and raise the children. The answer to society’s problems is not merely to support better-quality day care and other incentives to help and encourage parents who work full time.

One solution, just as valid, is to support the traditional family structure through church- and community-based marriage-counseling programs as well as family-oriented programs in schools.

Another equally valid solution is to support family arrangements in which only one parent, either the mother or father, is in the work force, through tax breaks and other incentives.

While it may be more politically correct to stress ways to help working parents, it is at least as productive for our society to provide a “prudent helping hand” for full-time parents who put being a full-time mom or dad foremost in their lives and in the lives of their children.



You’re on candid camera

Your editorial “Traffic scameras” in Sunday’s edition is 100 percent correct. Traffic cameras are simply intended to collect money, an additional tax burden on the public.

In my experience as a driver, not only has Montgomery County shortened the length of yellow lights at major intersections to increase the number of motorists caught in the trap, but it has also re-timed the lights between intersections so that when a motorist accelerates from one signal-controlled intersection and maintains the posted speed limit to the next signal-controlled intersection, the traffic signal at the next intersection changes to a shortened yellow light.

This means the motorist must either exceed the posted speed limit between traffic-signal intersections or slam on his brakes to avoid running a red light at the next intersection, risking a rear-end collision. That’s not fair.



In “Traffic scameras,” you state that “new evidence increasingly proves that traffic cameras do not prevent accidents, and that in some cases they increase rear-end collisions because more people jam on their brakes to try to avoid camera-enforcement tickets.” In doing so, you attempt to eliminate personal responsibility for actions. It sounds as if someone attempted to run a red light and ran into the conscientious, law-abiding driver in front.

This sounds like the argument used by the person who, when injuring himself by falling through a skylight in the home he was attempting to burglarize, blamed and sued the homeowner.

The real solution to keep traffic-light cameras from being profitable is to obey the law.


Antelope, Calif.

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