- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 5, 2006

Keep Iran in check

Friday’s Page One article “Gingrich opposed to U.S. strike on Iran” suggests that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich would oppose a possible military action against Iran to prevent the regime from becoming a nuclear power. This is not true.

To be clear, Mr. Gingrich believes that the Iranian regime cannot be allowed to develop or acquire nuclear weapons. However, though a military strike on Iran’s well-hidden and well-protected nuclear facilities (many of which are spread out and deep underground) would degrade that country’s nuclear program, it would not guarantee that Iran would not ultimately acquire a nuclear weapon.

Therefore, regime change in Iran should be America’s strategy.

Mr. Gingrich believes that a successful policy of regime change in Iran should start with what President Reagan did in Eastern Europe to defeat communism. By employing a comprehensive strategy that relied on America’s economic, political, diplomatic and intelligence capabilities, Mr. Reagan defeated the Soviet Union without firing a shot. This should be our goal in Iran as well.

Mr. Gingrich has said that “a nonviolent solution” that allows terrorists to get stronger and Iran to threaten us with nuclear weapons would be “a defeat,” but this is not inconsistent with his belief that there are nonviolent solutions that can weaken terrorists and could prevent Iran from getting nuclear weapons. However, the goal remains the same, and that is to keep Iran from getting nuclear weapons — without military action if possible but with force if necessary.


Communications director

and spokesman

Gingrich Communications


Noble, indeed

Tom Knott’s scorn for Etan Thomas was right on target (“Injustice? Look at your contract, Etan,” Sports, Monday). The big guy can be impressive playing ball on the NBA level, but his disdain for the real winners who are preserving our freedom is loutish. He gets to misuse his freedom of speech because better men and women than him are out there dealing with real enemies for a small percentage of what he is paid.

Likewise, it was wrong for The Washington Times to make a sports team (even the Columbus, Ga., Little Leaguers who won the Little League World Series Championship) the Nobles of the Week (Editorial, Saturday) when real hero Adam Galvez was laid to rest just days ago. As President Bush said last week:

“About a month ago, Adam was wounded by a suicide bomb in Iraq’s Anbar province. When he regained consciousness, he found he was buried alive, so he dug himself out of the rubble. And then ran through gunfire to get a shovel to dig out his fellow Marines. As soon as he recovered from his injuries, Adam volunteered to go back to the front lines, and 11 days ago, he was killed when a roadside bomb hit his convoy.”

The only useful function of professional athletes at this time of great crisis for our civilization, when those with real physical courage are in military uniform, is as entertainment for those real warriors.



Fostering democracy

In his Saturday Commentary column, “Beyond the clutter,” Victor Davis Hanson asserts that “fostering democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq was not our first, but last choice. It was not a good option.” However, in another column that he wrote less than two weeks ago in the National Review, “Mr. Bush’s Communication Problem,” he argued that “the current strategy of having removed the two most odious dictatorships — the Taliban and Saddam Hussein’s — and fostering democracies in their places remains the only sensible course.”

How does he resolve this contradiction? The Bush administration’s strategy of democracy promotion has accorded primacy to the deployment of force without paying commensurate attention to the complexities of reconstruction. The results manifest its myopia: In Afghanistan, warlords increasingly are reasserting their control, and opium production has attained record levels; in Iraq, as a recent Pentagon report acknowledges, internecine sectarian strife has largely enfeebled the central government. To discuss these worrisome outcomes is not to succumb to cynicism, as Mr. Hanson seems to suggest; it is to concede reality.


Fredericksburg, Va.

Better military amid uncertainties

The recent article impugning air power’s ability to contribute decisively in conflicts ranging from Lebanon to Iraq misses the mark on what nations should expect from their air forces as part of joint military capability (“Enemies adapt to military air power,” Business, Aug. 18).

Since the evolution of air, land and naval components in joint warfare, no strategically successful military leader has expected one service to be “decisive” on its own. To say that Israeli air power failed because it did not unilaterally defeat an entrenched Hezbollah guerrilla force is just as wrong as to blame ground forces for failing to seize and hold ground alone without help from air, sea and space. Our airmen are trained to fully exploit technologies of the high ground — rooting out insurgent enemies such as Ayman Zawahiri; locating and destroying roadside explosive devices; providing critical intelligence, mobility and rescue support for ground forces. Thousands of airmen are working alongside soldiers, sailors and Marines in distant lands.

It is time to stop referring selectively to assertions made by early air-power doctrine writers 65 or more years ago and get to the latest chapters on air and space thinking to understand the real wars of today. As one of the people who would have been in charge of “overpromising” in recent conflicts involving the United States, I can assure readers that air power promises in recent years have resulted in the development of unmanned platforms, unprecedented integration with ground forces, improved networking of space capabilities and more airmen on the ground, among other key combat capabilities.

Is there more to do? You bet — and as we have seen in every generation, our men and women in all services are finding new ways to solve the latest challenges. Fighter and bomber aircraft that are only good for destroying bridges and buildings respond daily to requests from ground forces, and they respond in minutes to any point of action with accuracy, lethality and survivability. Their weapons come in all sizes to deal with what our soldiers and Marines need to get their jobs done.

Responsible commentators also would point out that the weapons we buy today must be capable of dealing with whatever confronts us for the next 40 years, just as the aircraft we are flying today were built at the start of the Cold War and have been updated to meet diverse threats across the conflict spectrum. While we deal with asymmetrical warfare in the form of insurgency, nations around the world are investing in modern air and naval weapons that can challenge even the most advanced U.S. technology — the heart of our core competencies.

We need to devote our energies to developing superior weapons systems we can afford, practicing joint operational concepts that reduce redundancies while delivering war-fighting dominance, and integrating joint technologies at all levels of operations. Our forces in the field and the hardworking staff officers who support their efforts also would benefit from fewer of the divisive interservice put-downs that are far more prevalent today in the pens of pundits than in the minds American war fighters. These things, more than any technology, will help our men and women in uniform adapt together to an uncertain future.


Air Force (retired)

17th chief of staff


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