- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 8, 2005

Women in combat

After reading Elaine Donnelly’s tirades against female soldiers in combat (“Stealth plan for women in combat,” Commentary, yesterday), I must say one would think she would have something more to offer than an inexperienced opinion.

Being a war veteran twice over, I never cease to be amazed when armchair critics get more editorial space than people who know what they’re talking about. Throughout my 29 years of combined service, I have endured the same hardships, dangers and demands as my male counterparts. I have lived and worked in austere conditions, lifted and carried heavy equipment and never hesitated to assist in the effort to help the enemy die for their country.

SCUD launches, mortar attacks, bunker sweeps, minefields and bullets were shared by everyone, regardless of gender.

Mrs. Donnelly’s one-woman mission against female soldiers is puerile and baseless. Women have been in war since time immemorial, and anyone who requires proof need only do a little research to find copious historical facts about female warriors, both individual and organized.

Contrary to Mrs. Donnelly’s comments, all soldiers are prepared for land combat through training, from boot camp through permanent duty assignments. That’s what the Army does.

Dismissing our service with inane pejorative terms such as “politically correct” and “feminist dreams” doesn’t give much credit to the women who have given the ultimate sacrifice in this and every war fought by the United States.

Mrs. Donnelly’s commentaries are rife with contradictions. On the one hand, she says, “Improved training on how to evade or survive ambushes makes sense.” Then she does a 180-degree turn in the same breath and opines about “interchangeable men and women in or near land combat.”

In her convoluted logic, a bullet fired in defense is not the same as a bullet fired offensively. What nonsense.

Whether you’re ambushed, mortared at your base camp or on patrol, that, ladies and gentlemen, is combat.

Mrs. Donnelly’s philosophy reflects ignorance of history, no cognizance of the bravery of women in the war on terrorism, and a conspicuous lack of respect for those of us who do what Ms. Donnelly has never done — walk a few miles in combat boots.



U.S. Army


The ‘don’t know much about history

Victor Davis Hanson’s Saturday Commentary column, “What happened to history?” about the increasing inability of people to appreciate or identify with their own pasts, whether national or individual, and the value inherent in its study, reminds me of an infuriating retort one often hears when raising the subject with certain people: “Well, he’s dead.”

Whether coming from teenagers or adults, university speakers or the media, the idea remains the same. Call it the “don’t know much about history” approach.

This is illogical and insultingly thoughtless. Second, it implies that the dead — especially the ones with the clever ideas when alive — never actually existed, which is a classically totalitarian concept if ever there was one. Both the communists and the Nazis paid as much attention to erasing their victims from cultural memory — deleting their physical presence from society. The Islamists, too, have been busily rewriting history to exclude any Jewish and Christian presence in their version of Islam.

You mostly hear “don’t know much about history” from youngsters, notoriously self-centered and impatient, but I have heard it from adults as well — witness the intellectual bog of postmodern deconstruction in academia, where all that is dead (and/or white and male) is given short shrift.

My response is to point out that simply because Socrates, Abraham Lincoln — and Elvis, for that matter — are dead, that doesn’t make Socrates’ ideas on the nature of the soul, Lincoln’s contribution to the abolition of slavery or the music Elvis created any less worthwhile to ponder. If it does, why bother to remember even one’s own deceased ancestors — parents, grandparents, friends, pop-cultural idols — whose ideas, suggestions and concrete assistance (or lack thereof) undeniably helped make us what and who we are? Aren’t they dead, too? Millions of Elvis fans will never agree.


Kew Gardens, N.Y.

Israel spying?

Your article “Analyst accused of leaking defense data” (Page 1, Thursday), by Jerry Seper, describes how Pentagon analyst Larry Franklin is charged with passing classified information to officials of the American Israel Political Action Committee (AIPAC), who then passed the information to the Israeli Embassy. The article fails to mention that Mr. Franklin worked for Douglas Feith, No. 3 man at the Pentagon, who himself had been investigated for providing secrets to the Israeli Embassy early in his career.

While neither AIPAC nor Israel is directly charged, they obviously not only were involved with Mr. Franklin, but also are closely linked to Mr. Feith and his fellow neoconservatives in the Bush administration. It is especially insulting to the United States that while we give Israel billions of dollars every year along with our blind, uncritical political support, it repays us by not only spying on us, but also by ignoring all requests that we make regarding a peace settlement with the Palestinians.



Frist’s empty filibuster offer

Regarding your editorial (“Frist vs. the obstructionists,” Wednesday), you correctly observe that the federal judicial selection process has been characterized by accusations and recriminations, paybacks and partisan infighting, while Democrats and Republicans both share much blame for the present deteriorated condition of the process. However, you incorrectly characterize Sen. Bill Frist’s April 28 letter to Sen. Harry Reid as a “fair-minded, long-term proposal to end the politicization of high-level judicial nominations … .”

Mr. Frist’s proposal offers Democrats virtually nothing. Therefore, the suggestion will not end politicization and could exacerbate it. Several readily available options would be considerably more effective than Mr. Frist’s empty proposal.

First, President Bush might consult informally with Democrats before formally submitting nominees, especially those who are controversial. Second, Democrats and Republicans should attempt to reach some consensus on existing and future nominees, particularly those who are controversial.

For example, in April, the Senate Judiciary Committee approved by 14-4 Thomas Griffith, President Bush’s nominee for the D.C. Circuit Court. Four Democrats, including Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Charles Schumer agreed with 10 Republicans to vote Mr. Griffith’s nomination out of committee, action that guarantees his confirmation.

The Democrats favored Mr. Griffith, despite concerns regarding him. For instance, Mr. Griffith permitted his bar license to lapse while continuing to practice. The D.C. Circuit Court is also the country’s second most important court. Mr. Griffith’s appointment will leave the D.C. Circuit with six members appointed by Republicans and four by Democrats.

Republicans must also be more flexible about some controversial nominees. For example, one of four 6th Circuit nominees might be nominated to a district court opening and be replaced by one of President Bill Clinton’s 6th Circuit nominees whom the GOP Senate majority never seriously considered. Another example would be nominating lawyers, whom Democrats find more acceptable to current or future vacancies, such as four present openings on the 9th Circuit.

Relying on these measures, rather than floating essentially meaningless proposals, will be more constructive and might even restore a measure of civility to federal judicial selection.


Williams professor

University of Richmond School of Law


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