As a former crew member on B-1B bombers, I am disappointed by the opinion-page column "Past Failures Should Sound Alarms on 'Stealth' Funding," Sept. 6, which warns against funding the B-2 because of past problems with the B-1B. Unfortunately, the author dismisses the primary reason the B-1B did not participate in Desert Storm. Instead, he cites a problem with the fuse of a particular bomb and attempts to label this a B-1B problem. This would have been a problem for any aircraft carrying this particular weapon. The B-1B was still capable of carrying other types of munitions. The author also suggests a fan blade problem encountered in late December is the culprit. This still does not explain why the B-1B was not deployed with other aircraft prior to December. The reason is quite simple: As was clearly stated, the B-1B was neither requested nor required by the theater commander. A decision was made to retain the B-1B for its primary role of strategic nuclear deterrence. I am not aware of any rule that requires the participation of every piece of military hardware we own. Follo wing this logic, the author should also address the nonparticipation of ICBMs, amphibious landing craft, and a host of other military capabilities. After thousands of flight hours in both B-52 and B-1B bombers, I am still impressed with the speed, maneuverability, and bombing precision of the B-1B. Even with the alleged problems, many of which have been addressed, the B-1B is still the world's most capable long-range bomber. Frederick R. Strain, Washington Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
What Muscovites are reading Thank you for the marvelous front-page photo titled "New World for Moscow Readers," Sept. 5. It pictures a family sitting on a bench in Moscow, the father momentarily distracted from reading the new Pravda; the mother also momentarily distracted perhaps by her own worrisome thoughts. But the youngster between them, not for a moment distracted, is totally absorbed in reading - a McDonald's menu! Does this say something about the "new world" for Muscovites? Mavise Crocker, Falmouth, Mass.
Home, home on the ranch Regarding the Home Forum essay "Family Cohesion on the Ranch," Aug. 29: It is refreshing to read the story of a family that is pursuing the "good life" and succeeding. One hears so much today about the need for both parents to work full time to make ends meet; yet in many cases this is necessary only to maintain the lifestyle promoted by television and shopping malls. The author's family is fortunate to have the range of skills and interests to maintain this atypical lifestyle. But our economy does not furnish many opportunities of this kind. If we placed more value on land stewardship, as well as on cultural and economic self-reliance, we could repopulate and revive depressed rural areas, while relieving some of the pressure of overdevelopment elsewhere. To accomplish this we need government policies favorable to family farms, small businesses, and community stabilit y. Jennifer Quinn, Riverdale, N.Y.