- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 20, 2004

Graying patriots

Tod Lindberg’s opinion piece “Kerry’s shadowboxing” (Op-Ed, Tuesday) was spot on when he chided, “The last thing on earth the U.S. military needs is large numbers of the sort of people now getting themselves worked up about the possibility of being drafted.”

Arguably, we may need greater numbers. So here’s a solution that both solves the military’s deployment conundrum and appeases the two sides of the argument: extending the upper age limit for enlistment.

Millions of baby boomers are stable, fit, educated and seasoned. I’m not saying we’re SEALs or Rangers, but certainly, graying temples and forehead wrinkles can handle those noncombat or combat-support roles for which John Kerry thinks we’ll need a draft.

Fine. Keep the same health and fitness standards for military service. But America might be surprised to see how many fit 40- and 50-something sport utility vehicle owners show up to serve if the age limit is raised.



PAUL MCKELLIPS

Alexandria

Maintaining school discipline

I want to comment on Walter E. Williams’ column about violence in our schools (“Tolerating school violence,” Commentary, Saturday).

Mr. Williams has hit the nail square on the head. Even in the more affluent schools, there is an incredible amount of violence. I can only imagine what it must be like in the poorer communities. It is a real shame when a struggling parent tries to do the right thing by his or her child, only to be hampered by the government schools.

When schools quit punishing students and started to tolerate bad behavior, it began a quick spiral downhill.

LARRY WIANDT

Wake Forest, N.C.

Maintaining school discipline

I want to comment on Walter E. Williams’ column about violence in our schools (“Tolerating school violence,” Commentary, Saturday).

Mr. Williams has hit the nail square on the head. Even in the more affluent schools, there is an incredible amount of violence. I can only imagine what it must be like in the poorer communities. It is a real shame when a struggling parent tries to do the right thing by his or her child, only to be hampered by the government schools.

When schools quit punishing students and started to tolerate bad behavior, it began a quick spiral downhill.

LARRY WIANDT

Wake Forest, N.C.

Long-term study needed

Sunday’s Forum article on mental-healthscreening (“Bush’s Brave New World,” Commentary) misstates the findings of the president’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, which I chaired. The commission did not call for mandatory universal mental-health screening for all children. I am at a loss to explain why this misrepresentation persists, since it is at odds with the plain language of our report to the president.

Recognizing the need to balance suicide-prevention and access to medical care with the rights and responsibilities of parents, and being aware of the devastating impact of youth suicide, the commission proposed broad screening only in settings where many children are known to have untreated behavioral problems. Beyond this, the commission promoted programs that provide voluntary screening only with parental consent.

I also want to be clear that the commission did not recommend mandatory medication treatment for children and teens. To the contrary, we cited the complexities of treatment and the need for greater knowledge about the long-term effects of psychotropic medications (especially for children). We recommended that the federal government study the long-term effects of psychotropic medications more carefully (again, especially for children) and also that the Food and Drug Administration provide better information on medications. These recommendations, I am proud to add, preceded similar recommendations from the FDA by more than one year.

MICHAEL F. HOGAN

Director

Ohio Department of Mental Health

Columbus

Taiwan should tread carefully

I agree with Harlan Ullman’s argument in his article “China and Taiwan’s future” (Op-Ed., Oct. 13) that the United States must restate its China and Taiwan policy so that its intentions are not misconstrued by anybody, especially leaders on both sides of the Taiwan Strait.

For over three decades the United States has maintained “strategic ambiguity” regarding what it would do if the People’s Republic of China (PRC) captures Taiwan by force.

Unfortunately, both the PRC and Taiwan have mistakenly interpreted the policy in their own favor. In recent years it has become more apparent that the Taiwanese leadership believes the United States will come to Taiwan’s aid no matter how it is challenging the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. This Taiwanese conviction is buttressed by America’s robust arms sales to Taiwan.

It is still in the best interests of the United States, China and Taiwan to maintain the status quo across the Taiwan Strait. While having not altered the status quo officially, Taiwan is attempting to disassociate itself from China and has on many occasions verbally changed the status quo.

For example, many Taiwanese officials claim that Taiwan is already a sovereign and separate country, or there is one country on each side of the Taiwan Strait.

Even President Chen Shui-bian in his recent Double Ten Day speech openly declared that “the Republic of China is Taiwan, and Taiwan is the Republic of China,” orally changing the constitution of the Republic of China.

Misled by irresponsible shortsighted politicians, many ordinary Taiwanese also believe that Taiwan should become a “normal country” soon and that the United States is going to help in the end.

On the other side of the Taiwan Strait, the PRC government is busy dealing with the many domestic problems and is in no hurry to reunify with Taiwan. Without provocation from Taiwan, the PRC is unlikely to seek a forceful reunification in the near future.

It is fair to say that it is the Taiwanese challenge to the status quo that is most destabilizing in the region. It can be argued that America’s ambiguity at least partially contributed to reckless rhetoric and policies by pro-independence Taiwan leaders.

While Taiwan’s democracy and way of life should be protected, the United States must state unambiguously that the Taiwanese leadership is responsible for its own move toward formal independence.

ZHIQUN ZHU

Assistant professor of international

political economy and diplomacy

International College

University of Bridgeport

Bridgeport, Conn.

Clarification and note on policy

It is the policy of The Washington Times to identify top officeholders in democratically elected countries by their designated titles. Thus, in a letter from Sun Weide, press counselor and spokesman for the Chinese Embassy (“China and the arms embargo,” Saturday), we added the title “president” in front of the name of Chen Shui-bian, the democratically elected president of the Republic of China (Taiwan).

Let it be noted for the record that Mr. Weide objects to the use of “president” to describe Mr. Chen, in accordance with the long-standing policy of the People’s Republic of China.

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