- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 1, 2007

New drug, new costs

I am disappointed that the Virginia General Assembly has approved legislation to mandated the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine for all middle school girls (“CDC doctor opposes law for vaccine,” Page 1, Tuesday). As an OB-GYN physician myself, I applaud the development of this vaccine. But as a father, I don’t want to see important health care choices taken away from doctors, parents and patients — and handed over to state bureaucrats.

Unlike measles and other communicable diseases, student can’t get HPV from sharing a juice box at lunch or playing on the jungle gym during recess. As HPV falls well outside the appropriate criteria for mandatory vaccination, I have introduced legislation in Congress to prohibit federal dollars from funding mandatory state HPV vaccination programs, like the program passed by the Virginia General Assembly. While states should certainly help families afford this new drug, parents should be free to choose if vaccination is right for their daughters. We can’t cede this important health care choice to overzealous state legislatures.

REP. PHIL GINGREY

Washington

Mike Miller is at it again

The people of Maryland have spoken — well, at least the 53 percent who bothered to vote have spoken. The Democrats had a clean sweep, and Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. has declared that there isn’t enough cash for all of those unfunded mandates created during the Democrats’ last reign, let alone enough to further build the desired socialist paradise (“Miller wants to raise gas tax, add slots,” Metropolitan, yesterday). We are to get those tax increases, and Mr. Miller is saying we must “suck it up and move forward for the good of the state.” That certainly isn’t something he could have said to those brave men who earned the name “Old Line” for the state of Maryland.

Gen. George Washington bestowed that name on the Maryland troops for holding the battle lines again and again during the Revolutionary War. They were facing British Regulars, then the best infantry in the world. When others ran, those farmers, tradesmen and clerks fought on against terrible odds and won the freedoms we are squandering.

They indeed sucked it up and moved on for the good of the state, and a lot of them died doing it. Would many of those same men simply suck it up to further Mr. Miller’s pretensions?

JOHN LEWIS

Baltimore

Save democracy

The article “Al Qaeda’s weapon of mass influence” by Rep. Jim Saxton, New Jersey Republican, takes a critical bipartisan view of the impacts of the war that we must win in Iraq (Commentary, Monday). He is right on target when he points out, “Al Qaeda has taken care that each event in Iraq — be it political, economic, social and/or military — is deliberately created for the purpose of generating ‘bad news.’ ” The effect of this bad news is creating undue influences in the world arena of politics and on our society.

Mr. Saxton asks, “Will our political leaders allow al Qaeda’s plan to succeed?” The answer needs to be “absolutely not.” We cannot give way to terrorism and al Qaeda’s deliberate plan to embroil us in negative public opinion. If we do, we send the message that we no longer have the political will to free Iraq from the idealistic, religious hate groups that rule through fear and intimidation. The consequences could throw the region into political turmoil and disrupt world economies for decades to come.

This has become a war of public opinion, thanks to the insurgents’ clever use of modern technologies to wage information warfare. We need to turn public opinion in favor of an achievable, winning outcome. We need to do it not only in Congress, but also through outreach initiatives that educate the American public about al Qaeda’s history, goals, objectives, plan and timetable. Al Qaeda’s true ambition is to eradicate the world of Christian faiths (and other so-called infidels) and replace it with its own brand of Muslim religion. Even now, al Qaeda is feeding the unrest between Muslim religious factions in Iraq to achieve its aims.

One only needs to see documents the coalition has uncovered in Iraq and inside insurgent training camps in other Middle Eastern countries to know how dedicated al Qaeda is to achieving its plans even if it takes 500 years. To accomplish these plans, it needs a steady source of funding. The oil in Iraq can be that source if we allow al Qaeda to have its way.

The American people need all the available facts about this war. Only then can we pursue a logical debate about the consequences for our society and what they will mean to our children’s future and to the future of their children’s children for decades to come if we fail to contain the threat at this moment in time.

I want Mr. Saxton to know I support all his efforts to help us win this war, not only in Congress, not only on the battlefield, but also in the arena of public opinion. We keep telling the American people we have to win this war, that the sacrifices are worth it, but we haven’t fully explained why. We’re not in Iraq only to offer these people the chance to have a free and democratic society; we’re there to save our own.

FRED D. ARONSON

Poquoson, Va.

The Iran question

In his Commentary column “Lions, bears and birds” (Sunday), Oliver North reasonably fears Russian and Iranian cooperation in proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their exchange of smaller high-tech weapons likely being used in Iraq to kill American soldiers. But what is his solution? Armageddon?

Without saying so, Mr. North seems to be suggesting that his solution to stopping the Russian-Iranian arms exchange would be to threaten or actually use direct military force, presumably against Iran. Using an analogy suggested by an Iranian refugee, Mr. North would have the “eagle” attempt to defeat the alliance of a bear and a lion. This does not seem like a plausible project, but we are, of course, not dealing with animals here: We are dealing with highly capable nations that have access to powerful technologies, educated engineers and committed warriors.

In this era of ubiquitous and affordable weapons of mass destruction, any nation (and increasingly any radical group) is capable of acquiring or developing genocidal WMD for which there is no defense. Is Mr. North really asking us to lead the world down the path of testing these capabilities?

Wouldn’t a far sounder option be to endow the United Nations’ toothless “nuclear watchdog” with the teeth that it is so badly lacking? Had the United States been willing to do so for the U.N.’s International Criminal Court years ago, Saddam Hussein would have been indicted for war crimes and genocide for his mass-murder gassing of the Kurds in the late 1980s. He would have been tried and hanged before his invasion of Kuwait in 1990, and U.S. forces wouldn’t have been mobilized in Saudi Arabia (on Islamic holy land) that strongly motivated Osama bin Laden to plan for September 11. Also, had we gone down the ICC path, the path of international law instead of war, we wouldn’t have brave U.S. soldiers dying in Iraq by the thousands or be involved in an occupation that has only increased the ranks of Islamic terrorists, increased the risk to our homeland and reduced our scarce resources for dealing with our own domestic problems.

It is getting late, but there still is time for our nation to join the ICC and, indeed, to lead the world in the development of just and enforceable world law and the institutions required to make it work at last. We would do well to recall President Kennedy’s advice, quoting Lao-Tzu and Confucius, that “even a thousand-mile journey begins with a single step.”

Yes, of course I am concerned about Iran’s access to WMD, but I am even more concerned about U.S. leaders who don’t have a clue about what motivates others to acquire and possibly use such unstoppable weapons.

FELIX ROSENTHAL

Annandale


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