- The Washington Times - Saturday, June 10, 2006

Trouble in Somalia

Somalia will become the new terrorist training camp for exporting global terror (“Somalia and the war on terror,” Editorial, Friday). The conditions of poverty, corruption, total devaluation of human life and rampant despotism are fertile breeding grounds for terrorism. From that new area of operations will be spawned new new operational commanders to replace recently killed Abu Musab Zarqawi.

How long have the Islamists been progressing in Somalia? Since their ousting from Afghanistan? Asymmetrical terrorist warfare requires an emergent strategy, follow the positive feedback until it results in a false plateau, then search for another path. Africa will be the terrorists’ new area of operations and the backdoor into Israel.

To turn away from that country now will be as great a tactical mistake as the one President Clinton made in ignoring the steps that led to September 11.

LARRY STONE

Peyton, Colo.

First, aid responders

I wholeheartedly endorse Tom Ridge’s assessment of the need for one solution to address failures in the U.S. national communications system (“Helping first responders,” Op-Ed. Monday).

Technology today is playing an increasingly critical role in effective, timely emergency management, in terms of internal and external communications.Securing available broadcast bandwidth in emergency response situations would clearly assist with implementing effective internal communications.

Perhaps no agency better demonstrated this dynamic than the U.S. Coast Guard during last year’s devastating hurricane season. The Web-based virtual communication management technology which Coast Guard personnel successfully employed enabled them to maintain continual internal and public information distribution, despite the fact that District 8’s headquarters in downtown New Orleans (including all of its infrastructure) had been destroyed.

The very marked difference between the Coast Guard’s actions — which centered on placing such a high priority on effective communication — and those of many other agencies during last year’s hurricane season was clearly (and unfortunately) evident.

The good news is that this difference regarding prioritizing effective communication is something from which we can all draw lessons today.

The end objective, after all, for both internal and external communication is public wellbeing. An uninformed public will not know how to respond in a way that will best ensure their well-being.

As in the successful case of the Coast Guard’s experience last year, actively integrating cutting-edge communication management throughout the agencies included in the Department of Homeland Security will help eliminate some of the problems demonstrated in the responses to Katrina. It will also help us all better prepare for the man-made disasters.

GERALD BARON

Bellingham, Wash.

Burning questions

I have a few questions for Greg Walden and Martha Blackburn (“How to say yes to energy,” Op-Ed, Wednesday): Since we only have 3 percent of world oil reserves but burn about one-quarter of the oil produced in the world, how will burning what little oil we have lead to energy independence?

Given that many oil experts believe we are at or very near the peak of global oil production, wouldn’t it make more sense to build an inter-city passenger rail system rather than more refineries?

We can only burn our oil once. Does it make sense to burn it now to run a fleet of sport utility vehicles and to support one more round of sprawl development?

Or, would we be smarter to keep the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge oil as an extension of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve — only to be used in case of emergency?

CARL HENN

Rockville


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