- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 15, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

A space odyssey

Eric Sterner’s Friday Op-Ed column, “More than the Moon,” describing the future of the United States’ manned space program, portrayed some disturbing perspectives to all Americans who take pride in this nation’s space accomplishments. Space exploration and lunar colonization are the kind of spectacular undertakings expected of superpower nations.

The first to arrive on the moon will dominate a military high ground never before exploited by those preceding them. How will the world respond to a second nation’s reoccupation of the moon?

Surely Americans realize and appreciate the difference between planting Old Glory on the moon as a commemorating gesture of a successful scientific expedition and claiming the entire heavenly body for an Earth-based superpower. What will a live broadcast of another nation’s flag-raising ceremony mean to the peoples of the world?

Apollo 15 left the Hadley-Apennine region of the moon on Aug. 2, 1971. For nearly four days, its astronauts ventured on the rolling hills surrounding the landing site, using a lunar roving vehicle (LRV).

Parking the LRV for the last time, astronaut James Irwin produced a Bible. He deftly placed it atop the dashboard of the vehicle. There’s no reason not to believe that Bible still rests in that very same spot.

Would China, now making an issue of athletes bringing Bibles into the 2008 Olympic park there, ever take action to disturb the one left on the dashboard of a lunar rover on the Moon?

Could the act of disturbing this Bible be considered a hostile act? If China’s leaders promised it would be left undisturbed, would U.S. officials believe them? Should they believe them?

What’s at stake is more than just national prestige. U.S. national interests dealing with everything from security to fending off hegemonic pressure imposed by other space-faring nations are on the chopping block.

“We came in peace for all mankind.” Thirty-nine years after a commemorative plaque bearing these words was planted at Tranquility Base, we are challenged with the question: Will those who follow bear and share similar objectives?

PARIS MICHAELS

Aerospace specialist

Cape Canaveral, Fla.

What’s the problem?

I find it an interesting juxtaposition that conservatives rail against cameras in public but not against warrantless wiretaps (“D.C. police state,” Editorial, Thursday). Which is more dangerous: cameras in public or the word “warrantless”? Perhaps conservatives should read all the arguments for warrantless wiretaps as if they were for the cameras. After all (as the argument goes) if you’re not doing anything wrong, what are you worried about?

MICHAEL RIORDAN

Washington

A right to school vouchers

The simple and just solution to Catholic school closings is the voucher system (“From Catholic to charter schools,” Editorial, yesterday). All U.S. children have a right to a free education through taxpayer-funded vouchers. That only students in government schools are given subsidized education is intolerable.

Religious schools teach morality and proper behavior. They are discriminated against because their students get moral training, which is a big plus over what is offered in the public schools. Let’s stop this unconstitutional discrimination now. Is anyone listening? What is wrong with our elected representatives?

ANTHONY LUTZ

Vienna

Splinters

The report on the judicial ruling in favor of breakaway churches in the Episcopal Church’s Diocese of Virginia borders on the bizarre (“Church: Ruling violates our rights,” Nation, April 5) . While I realize it is written from the point of view of the diocese, one might ask: What about the rights of those who want to argue for theological propriety?

If I were a member of one of the “breakaway” churches (and I know many of them) I would wonder what had happened to my rights if the ruling were the opposite. This article plainly takes the view of the diocese, but that is just like taking the point of view of the bureaucracy over the individual.

We have enough of that as it is. The decision of these churches to leave the denomination has clear theological and historical justification. The decision of the denomination to fight it is clearly financial and will be a major financial drain on them in the process. It seems to me that the denomination has abandoned its role of preaching the Gospel and is interested only in maintaining its bureaucracy.

RICHARD LAMBERT

Rockville

Worthy of the front page

The major story on Wednesday covered the previous day’s critical testimony before the Senate by both Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker and Gen. David H. Petraeus (“Petraeus warns of Iraq backslide,” Page 1). Regardless of one’s view of the conflict in Iraq, no one could argue with the story’s prominent placement. However, another item in the same issue was worthy of front-page coverage but did not receive it.

Featured on Page 4 was a photograph of the posthumous award by President Bush of the Medal of Honor to the parents of Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor (“Moment of silence for fallen hero”). Also see “More U.S. troop pullout likely as soldiers’ tours shorten,” Nation, Thursday.

The fine print of the wartime narrative so ably presented by Mr. Crocker and Gen. Petraeus has been written in the blood of American heroes like Sgt. Monsoor and is far more deserving of front-page notice than a piece on the growing irrelevance of hard-copy college yearbooks (“Yearbooks not wired for the next generation,” Page 1, Wednesday).

MIKE DUFFEY

Alexandria

Emissaries of ‘peace’

Though Sen. Barack Obama may be adept at dazzling gullible Democrats — and a fawning media — with the political moonshine he is selling, it is a stretch to believe he can sit down and broker peace with the despots and dictators of the world when he refuses to sit for tough questioning from Fox News (“Something more than audacity,” Pruden on Politics, Friday).

On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama intimates that all the saber rattling coming from Iran can be squelched simply by talking with the country’s messianic president. Meanwhile, former President Jimmy Carter is hoping (over tea) to deflate the terrorist threat coming from Hamas.

As good liberals, Mr. Obama and Mr. Carter believe they are imbued with qualities of compassion and understanding that are absent from the average Republican.

Hence, they tread where Republican presidents, schooled in the art of realpolitik, have sense enough not to go. One only needs recall Mr. Carter’s deer-in-the-headlights look when Soviet tanks rolled into Afghanistan. How naive.

That is not to say that our two emissaries of “peace” will leave empty-handed after breaking bread with enemies who plot our destruction. However, whatever deal they manage to broker, you can bet it will leave the United States, or one of our allies, less secure and less safe.

THOMAS M. BEATTIE

Mount Vernon

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