- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 24, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Pentagon needs to pick up the pace

I commend Sen. Elizabeth Dole for her March 31 Op-Ed column, “Planning for America’s Security,” on the state of our nation’s defense preparedness. I was particularly interested in her views about our aging jet fuel-tanker fleet, built during the Eisenhower administration. The delays in upgrading the fleet have been compounded by the way the bid for replacing it has been handled by the Pentagon.

Ultimately, the Air Force chose France’s Airbus over America’s Boeing, a decision that could prove to be disastrous. Boeing has a proven jet tanker, but Airbus has never built one used by any of the world’s air commands. Boeing would have provided work for 44,000 American people and 300 domestic suppliers across 25 states. Airbus promised a not-yet-built U.S. manufacturing plant and perhaps 25,000 U.S. jobs. Furthermore, compared to the Airbus tanker, Boeing’s offer was 24 percent more fuel-efficient and had a 22 percent lower operating cost. It would have saved more than $15 billion in fuel costs alone over the life cycle of the first 179 new tankers. Finally, in a combat situation, Boeing’s tanker was assessed by the Air Force to be more likely of surviving destruction.

So, the Pentagon is not only moving at a glacial pace, but also outsourcing our national security and manufacturing base to France, of all places.

REP. DAVID R. LEWIS

North Carolina

House of Representatives

Dunn, N.C.

A terrorist does not a criminal make

Muslim groups, led by the Islamic Society of North America, want Sen. John McCain to refer to those who fly planes into buildings and detonate bombs at mosques, markets, weddings and funerals to be called “criminals” instead of Islamic terrorists (“Muslims press McCain on ‘Islamic’ terror label” Page 1, Monday).

Criminals commit burglaries, rob banks and mug people. Their goal is not to terrorize entire nations and groups, but rather to satisfy individual greed. There is a huge difference between a terrorist and the common criminal.

It’s ironic that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) has vehemently disavowed any connection to or sympathy for Warren Jeffs’ cult in Texas, but the news media frequently refer to that cult as the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). However, the same media, for the most part, refrain from ever using the description “Islamic terrorists.” That’s called selective political correctness. The news media doesn’t fear LDS terrorism.

JOSEPH R. FARRELL

Alexandria

Masking unjustified aggression?

To understand why ad-hominem arguments fail, we need only read Michael O’Hanlon’s Commentary column “Hawkish talks with Iran?” (Monday). In his effort to reject Sen. Barack Obama’s belief that the United States would find a solution for Iraq only when talking with Iran, Mr. O’Hanlon says: “Iran is a regime with the blood of hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis on its hands.”

Is that not a factual description of what the current administration has wrought in its decision to invade Iraq? In fact, the choice of “hundreds of Americans and thousands of Iraqis” is dwarfed when compared to the actual numbers: more than 4,000 American deaths and hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

The time for a diplomatic solution has arrived. To renounce talks with Iran because it has blood on its hands is bizarre. It is merely another effort to manipulate public opinion to support aggressive action against Iran. The American people want out of Iraq, not an escalation with an entry into Iran.

JOAN SALEMI

West Springfield

Supply+demand=drilling

Steve Chapman did us all a favor by pointing out the serious flaws in the energy proposals of all three presidential candidates (“Bad energy ideas,” Commentary, Sunday).

Then he ruined it by presenting his own proposal for a carbon tax, which, if anything, is even worse than the candidates’ proposals. The problem is that Mr. Chapman and the candidates are all trying to deal with the problem of high fuel prices by messing with taxes, but as any freshman economics student knows, the best way to deal with high prices is to increase supply. This is not rocket science.

The laws of supply and demand still apply. And how do we increase supply? Easily: Just lift the stupid restrictions on drilling for oil in Alaska and off the coasts of California and Florida and on other government lands.

Would this solve the problem immediately? Of course not; it takes several years to develop an oil field, but in time it will go a long way toward bringing down fuel prices. I guarantee it.

But wouldn’t this make the environmentalists angry? Of course it would, but isn’t it about time we took away the veto power of environmentalists over the nation’s economy?

I don’t know anyone who is opposed to dealing with real and serious environmental problems, but we are being controlled by imaginary or inconsequential environmental concerns.

For example, I doubt anyone — even environmentalists — really believes that drilling for oil on a tiny percentage of the vast wasteland of northern Alaska will do serious or permanent damage to the environment of that region.

HENRY BORGER

Laurel

Fallon’s fallacy

Adm. William J. Fallon’s “poor judgment” was not, as Harlan Ullman suggests, that he trusted Tom Barnett for the Esquire magazine article but that he unabashedly let flow freely views that should not have been shared with anyone other than his boss (“Ode to a Fox,” Op-Ed, Monday).

His “boss,” by the way, is not the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, whose role is to advise the president outside the operational chain of command, but the president himself, as commander in chief. Adm. Fallon’s only advisory role as an operational chief was to advise the president on operational matters, not to advise the public on political-strategic matters, at least while on active duty. Perhaps that is why Adm. Fallon retired, so he could change roles from operational command to armchair pundit — something he is entitled to do after retirement, though not before.

Mr. Ullman’s comparison of Adm. Fallon’s public disagreement with the president over the course of the war to that of “then-Secretary of State George Marshall, a general,” in criticizing President Truman’s recognition of Israel is so flawed as to be nearly beyond words. I certainly hope Mr. Ullman did not mean to compare the two presidential policies as equally wrong. Rather, he appears to suggest that this administration, unlike that of Mr. Truman, does not brook public disagreement from general officers. How can it be that Mr. Ullman does not comprehend that the difference between the two situations is that George Marshall was secretary of state when he made his criticisms, not a general officer in command of armed forces?

Adm. Fallon does, I am sure, have a true “strategic appreciation” for the global consequences of American military endeavors. However, Mr. Ullman’s suggestion that that includes a view that “diplomatic initiatives” in the Middle East might be as successful as those in the Far East, “reversing North Korean nuclear programs,” is both ludicrous and a disservice to Adm. Fallon. (No one has yet to slow, much less “reverse,” the North Korean nuclear program through diplomacy, despite decades-long attempts.) If this were Adm. Fallon’s view, it would hardly be any part of an “ode” to disclose it.

Thank goodness that, as Mr. Ullman laments, “civilian leadership is often fickle when it comes to military advice.” Military advice has no greater claim to being the best advice than does any other kind of advice, but we know from experience that military advice has the distinction that when it is wrong, it can be spectacularly wrong.

DAN SULLIVAN

Arlington

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